Standards And Norms

I want to discuss what we have come to define as standards and norms in our lives today. Off the top of my head, I think about how we see beauty, professionalism, status, gender roles and education. On some level, we have attached certain expectations to these things and decided what should be the standard or what should be considered normal.

We have built institutions and industries based on these so called "standards" and "norms." But how did these things even become standards and norms?

To understand this, one has to really dissect what these two words mean. Standard is defined as a level of quality or attainment and a norm is defined as something that is usual, typical, or standard.

As you can see, these words are synonyms and they suggest that there is something to attain in order to either be normal or elite. In every generation, a group of people over a period of time agree that some things should be considered quality and then culture is formed as a result of these shared values.

These shared values are often not inclusive in nature because they are typically a reflection of the biases of whoever has power at the time. But what happens when these standards and norms we live by are outdated? What happens when they are harmful? Who decides to refresh our conditioning and biases to let us know that we need to update our thinking? Do enough of us care enough to change the status quo?

What happens when these standards and norms become overtly and systematically beneficial to one group over another? Will people be brave enough to acknowledge this and shift things in order to balance the equilibrium? Will people be willing to admit that they have been part of the problem?

What happens is that we hurt our world. We see things through limited perspectives. We stifle originality. We erase cultures. We promote self-hatred by advocating for conformity at the expense of self.

So, Instead of blindly following standards and norms that we have been taught, perhaps we should question, challenge and expand those standards and norms to include more people being themselves. I have a feeling that we will see ourselves more if we commit to making this a habit.

Being considered conventionally beautiful shouldn't be a thing because what is convention when it comes to beauty in a world of 7.5 billion people?

Being professional shouldn't mean that you have to hurt the natural texture of your hair to fit a standard.

Being educated shouldn't have to involve only going to schools.

So I ask you this world: what standards and norms are you willing to update today? Our very existence depends on your answer to this question.

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector

Not Funny

I want to talk about racist, sexist and bigoted jokes. A lot of times when people condemn these jokes, they are referred to as being too sensitive or being members of the “fun police”.

They’d say, “what?! It’s just a joke! You know I’m not racist, c’mon!”

Sometimes, when they see that the subjects of the jokes aren’t playing, they’d get angry and say something to the effect of “wait, you don’t actually think I’m racist do you?!”

I call that the IIPV move otherwise known as:

Insult

Insist your insult is a joke and then

Play Victim.

No acknowledgement of the impact of their actions. Just indignation.

So... here’s why those jokes aren’t actually funny:

It’s triggering: It’s a reminder of the oppression that exists in our societies today and the many times the oppressed have had to hide parts of themselves to fit in at the risk of a loss of status, position and/or influence.

It perpetuates a dangerous cycle of ignorance and dehumanization: You make it okay to use language that marginalizes people which becomes culture (work culture, school culture, locker room culture, etc.) When it becomes culture that’s accepted, you silence people that are affected because they sometimes feel that speaking up will further separate them from the group. Additionally, when it becomes culture, the subjects of your jokes become objects as in less than human. As in easy to overlook, dismiss, demean, ridicule and belittle.

Just because you don’t intend to be racist, sexist or bigoted with your comments doesn’t mean you are not. It also doesn’t mean you get off scot-free.

Here’s the good thing though.

You can change.

You can stop.

When you decide to stop making racial, sexist and bigoted jokes the norm, it doesn’t mean you’re being politically correct.

It means you’re not being hurtful.

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Both/And vs. Either/Or

I believe in both and NOT either or

 I refuse to believe humanity is this intellectually poor.

How did we get here?

Where your fear 

is translated as me not having a care 

and leads to despair.

Impulse is to react, react, react.

It’s like we've signed a contract that we can’t retract to overact. 

Meanwhile, we've lost sight of the many voices around us. 

Voices that can’t compete because they aren’t loud enough. 

Now THEY think they aren’t enough. 

But even YOU must admit that being this invisible is pretty rough. 

These days, it seems like we only have two options 

My way or your way. 

It doesn’t matter what I say, anyway.

We have created binary systems to govern the nuance.

Where is the balance? 

I’m just as guilty. I’m no innocent. 

But as I sit with my thoughts and inspect, 

I can start to see the cause of the confusion

and the blurry vision.

The whole picture just isn’t being seen and no one is clean.

We need to examine our lenses and take down our fences.

If we address our blind spots, 

we can connect the dots. 

Next time you want to tell a story from your perspective, 

be more inventive and think of the collective. 

Next time you ask a question, let it be open ended instead of close minded. 

Step back to look at the whole picture.

You'll see that we are a beautiful and complex mixture. 

Examine the canvas frame by frame 

It will be hard, but do it all the same.

Move past homogeneity and create spaces for more forms of identity. 

We all need to apply this sensitivity.

Please don’t ignore this because that’s how we got here in the first place

where what’s limited now is grace.  

Seek to affirm not and not to confirm.

Remember, people want to be heard. 

They don’t want to be a part of your herd.

Life should be liberating and enriching 

not selective and elusive. 

Your presence should invite other forms of existence. 

I believe in both and NOT either or. 

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector

Walls vs. Bridges

I reached out to connect. 

But I was met with no interest. 

My bridge came crashing into your wall. 

I wondered what caused this stall. 

Will it ever fall?

So I sat and observed

as you continued to layer your walls 

with bricks of sameness, fear, hate and a false sense of security. 

This is how you found your happy. 

To you, I’ve never been an option 

I seem to be as dark and unknown as what’s hidden in the depths of the ocean. 

Instead of getting to know me, 

you’ve weaponized your friends and family to be afraid of me. 

These stories you tell of me 

They are exaggerated and limited. 

These walls you built to protect yourself from me. 

 They are enclosed spaces with the same ole faces. 

Here’s what you’ve missed while living in your bubble.

your barriers have become outliers. 

your limited scope has inspired hope.

I will not just be tolerated. I will be appreciated

As your walls continue to crack, and you continue to attack,

my revolution will be televised and I will no longer be generalized.

I reached out to connect. 

But I was met with no interest.

My bridge came crashing into your wall and caused it to fall.

I looked behind me and I saw I wasn't alone.

Together, we built a bridge and knocked down the walls.

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector