Most of us desire order and comfort in our lives. So, we do things that help us meet those desires and tend to shy away from things that make us uncomfortable or seem out of order. I have noticed, at least here in the Mid-West, is that most people tend to gravitate towards people who look like them. Our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors tend to look like us, and usually share similar values. This is how we maintain the status quo.
However, our country and the world have changed and now we are putting people who are not alike together. This is happening in schools, restaurants, workplaces and houses of worship and just about every other place imaginable. This assimilation is troubling to some folks. I would guess many of them voted for President Trump. They would just like things to go back to a time when old white men truly ruled the world and people who looked differently or came from different cultures had little or nothing to say.
I am happy to see that so many younger folks (30 and under) who no longer subscribe to this idea of “keeping things as they were.” They are embracing diversity as a good thing and this gives me hope.
As we celebrate Black History Month I challenge you to look around in your life. Does everyone look like you? If they don’t all look like you, you get it. If they do, you need to think about that.
If everyone in your life is just like you then I think you need to consider something that I did many years ago. In the early 1990’s I was hiring people for various jobs. I was challenged by a couple of young black men regarding my hiring practices and who was being selected for employment. After some discussion, I was able to convince them, that I in no way tried to exclude minorities, AND they were able to convince me that I made no effort included minorities. Neither was wrong, BUT this was the crux of the discussion.
I listened to them and their point of view, and they listened to me. I saw that my hiring practices were not intended to discriminate or offend, yet I had offended some employees. They were able to see that I was open to criticism and I made the necessary adjustments after that because I had been shown a different perspective. I could have easily dismissed them and continued to do things my way, however I was sympathetic to their concerns and wanted to show them that their concerns were valid.
If your everything in your world looks like you, perhaps you should add some people who look and think differently than you.
Recently I was watching television and saw a commercial for Xeljanz which is produced by Pfizer in the ad there is a Caucasian father/husband, an African American wife/mother and a bi-racial child. Underneath the commercial is a song from 1976, “Dance with me”. I also noticed a commercial for Humana where there is another interracial couple with a bi-racial child. These commercials reminded me of the movie “Loving” is a love-story about the very first interracial couple who fought to legitimize their love in the eyes of society.
Even blockbuster’s like the latest Spider-man movie, Spiderman Homecoming, where Peter Parker’s crush is a bi-racial young lady with an African American mother and Caucasian father, rather than Mary Jane with the red pigtails. There are so many more examples all around us today which represents a huge shift in corporate advertising, story telling, diversity, and inclusion. What these commercials and shows say to me is that these images represents middle America and this is the way we live today.
Thanks to the hard work of civil rights icons like Dr. King, Malcom X, JFK, Carter Woodson, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, John Lewis, and many many more, we now live in a society where it is acceptable and normal to love whom ever you want and be whatever you want to be.
Enjoy Black History Month.