My family went to Walt Disney World in April. Then I joined my husband at a conference at a Disney resort later that month. Both times there was something eerie to me about the crowds we met. Thousands of people on one small patch of Florida at an attraction that presumably draws people from around the world, if not at least throughout North America.

What was eerie to me was that almost all the faces of the tourists were the same. Where were all the colorful faces? Where was the Asian population? Where was the ever-growing Hispanic community? Where were the African-Americans for that matter? And where were the tourists from the Carribean, Mexico, and parts beyond?

There were many International staff from all over the world, with the ability to speak countless languages. It was thrilling to read their name badges sporting the names of their home countries. Presumably, the intent of this hiring strategy was to host the global tourists, which must have been there somewhere.

Those of you who have visited Disney will be familiar with the “It’s a Small World” exhibit. You ride on a little boat through a cheerful display of mechanical children representing nations around the world in traditional costume and stereotypical form. The most Diversity represented on our trips to Disney was in this “North American white person’s perspective on multiculturalism”.

It struck me as another element of all that is surreal about this “magic” land.

Granted the expense of a trip to Disney precludes most families from attending. And of course, wealth in North America is disproportinately distributed to white families. But this fact alone could not explain the homogeneity of the crowds.

What was perhaps even more disconcerting to me was that I had an assumption that the crowd would look similar to a crowd at a Toronto park. I was confronted with recognition that the whole Disney experience that I had grown up believing was Universal…is not necessarily so. My perspective was shaped by the unspoken belief that it is a rite of passage that all middle class North American families must at some point make this pilgrimage with their children…replicating the trip that they took with their own parents decades before.

My husband, Dave, was born in Trinidad and lived there until grade 4. He didn’t buy into the “must do” rationale for booking this trip. He didn’t understand the phenomenon that is Disney beyond appreciating that Disney had built an incredible business empire. He didn’t grown up knowing these characters. He didn’t grow up with “the magic”…or I should say with “this magic”. There is, of course, plenty of magic that he was exposed to growing up that simply wasn’t a part of my culture and personal history.

He appeased me. We went.

The Disney experience was another in a series of moments of recognition…that our truth is based on what we know. That certainly we cannot always know what we do not know. That I can never take forgranted that my own experience is the human experience. That, gloriously, there is more to learn everyday about how my husband and I are unique.

I am “white”, second-generation Canadian, with roots in Britain. Dave has grown up identifying as “West Indian” and “brown”. His grandparents are Indian from East India. Our children have a blend of our genes. Their skin is slightly olive-white in the winter and a beautiful light golden brown when they’ve been kissed by the summer’s sun.

My daughter sees herself as “brown”. Among the Disney princesses, she’s always been drawn to Jasmine over the blonde and milky-skinned Belle and Cinderella. While at Disney, no matter what gift shop we went into, it was difficult for her to spend her precious allowance on any Jasmine item– unless she was bundled in a pack with the other blonde princesses. Microinequities come in many shapes and sizes!

It’s a small world even in the gift shop.