The first step in Diversity… is realizing that you barely know S*(% about Diversity.
The second step… admitting, openly, that you barely know S*(% about Diversity!
Diversity is more than race. It is more than Inclusion efforts. It goes deeper than a statistic. It doesn’t stop when you have a Chief Diversity Officer. You have not reached success when you have met the right mix of workforce variety. Reached the correct percentage of suppliers for your construction project or vendor partners.
Diversity is about building an understanding of who we are as people.
It is about respecting the fact that our common sense is common to none of us.
It is about looking past the stereotypes and our own perceptions to admit that:
“Look, I know nothing about you but I realize that I may need to. For the good of me, for the good of you, for the good of my work and those children of ours that will come after us… I know that I need to sit down and realize…
that just because we are different doesn’t mean we are not the same.”
The only way you can step past the stereotype is if you are willing to step into the conversation!
Tell me… are you willing to talk – about the S*(% you don’t know?
Recently I left a very short comment on a popular industry blog (not HR). The overall post included the topic of bling and writing. It also had a number of images that were typical of what anyone would find in a bing search for images on the term BLING (i.e. Hip Hop, Black people, etc.). While I completely understood the point of the post and did not at all feel the intent of it was racial or negative, I did however feel a need to just leave a two sentence comment in short saying:
“While I do understand the point of this post, I just want to point out how the typical images you used could be considered culturally insensitive? Do you know the names of the artists you used?”
I left it at that. My attempt was just to ask a question and not imply that the individual wriitng the post was neither negative, mean, racist, or culturally insensitive. However, apparently I set a fire.
KINDLING TO THE FIRE
A day or two later this individual emailed me personally and noted that they had removed my comment. The email was a somewhat lengthy message stating they did not appreciate what I left and that “you don’t know me at all and I don’t appreciate these serious allegations.” ??? I was puzzled. I don’t feel at all that my two sentence comment was at all a “serious” nor an “allegation.” Am I reporting this person to the police?? I didn’t think so. This individual closed the overall message with something to the effect of ”I’ve had thousands of comments on my blog and have only deleted a few. Congrats. You’re in an elite club.”
So what did I do? He he he he he. I poured a little grease on the flame!
I emailed them back with another very short reply basically stating that it was not my intent to say they were insensitive but more that the images they used could be seen as culturally insensitive. I continued with “…your extreme action” of taking my comment down shows more than you may realize. “I wear my elite club status proudly!”
Well needless to say they did not like my reply. I received more back but that is not the point of this post. The real point in my eyes is that many bloggers don’t realize how much their removal of comments, or not allowing comments, speaks to their own lack of openness to dialogue. In this particular instance it was the lack of conversation around the issue of cultural sensitivity and really the use of Hip Hop artist images to identify with “Bling.”
Often times our own perception of what should be said is often clouded by how those words could be interpreted. It also speaks to how uncomfortable any question toward someones motives, especially around race, can still be misinterpreted.
I came across the following video which I think really speaks to my own intention of the original comment on that unnamed bloggers post. Jay Smooth, is host to the longest running hip-hop radio show in New York, Underground Railroad on WBAI 99.5 FM. Enjoy!
DO YOU THINK I WAS WRONG? I PROMISE I WON’T DELETE YOUR COMMENT )
While the internet, social networking, RSS feeds, Android, Apple and other social technologies allow us as individuals and companies to gain access to information that we lacked access to previously; that same technology has locked us into our own interest, essentially taking away our awareness to different streams, feeds and… Different Ideas!
A while back I wrote about the Importance of Different Ideas! The understanding that while we enjoy connecting and getting information from others this same silo of specialized information keeps us from exploring things outside of our own frequently traveled feeds and interest. It is this act of “personalization” that keeps us from the pursuit of other interest.
The danger in over-personalization
I recently attended ASTD International Conference in Orlando, FL. While I was there I had the opportunity to interview Marcus Buckingham, Author of the book Strengths Finder and the upcoming title Stand Out. Be on the look out for a post regarding this interview. During this interview it reminded me of the faults in over personalization of information and internet streams.
A recent TED talk from Eli Pariser, author of “The Filter Bubble,” speaks of the dangers of only staying within the boundaries of our interest, the pain that these filters create, and the importance of not becoming a “Web of 1″