Diversity and Inclusion

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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Sustainable Diversity & Inclusion Is Possible If...

It’s not enough for institutions to look different. They have to think differently as well. Sustainable diversity and inclusion only occurs when there’s actual behavioral change.

Intentionality needs to happen at all levels: Upper management, middle management & entry level. A commitment to understand how and why people of different backgrounds behave the way they do is imperative for success to occur. It's how awareness, humanization and empathy starts. A top down approach is just as important as a bottom up approach when it comes to diversity and inclusion. They are a pair of strategies that shine brightest when working in tandem.

This is how you can determine if you are living out your values as individuals and institutions. We get in trouble when we stray away from our values. When our values aren't being practiced, problems arise. Do you have benchmarks to measure your values as well as your company's?

This is also how you become aware of the in groups and out groups that exist in your environment. A lot of diversity and inclusion work is about addressing the invisible. It's about prioritizing nuance over binaries.

Without this flexibility, intersectionality gets ignored.

Sustainable diversity & inclusion requires regular reflection, a willingness to be open minded, releasing of egos, stepping out of comfort zones, a commitment to acknowledge wrong doings and do something about it and breaking down oppressive systems.

Are you willing to do that?

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Connect the Visible to the Invisible

As humans, we are tribal by nature so we want to gravitate towards what we understand and what is familiar. 

We fear what we don’t understand because a lack of understanding represents a lack of control.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with similarities though but I want to encourage you all to reflect on how you react to differences. 

Do you avoid them or make an effort to understand them? 

I think if you make an effort to understand them, you’ll find that we have a lot more in common than we initially think. 

Diversity to me is much more than the color of our skin, our age, gender or affiliations. It’s also about the inside. 

Essentially, true diversity is being able to connect the visible to the invisible. 

How will you connect the visible to the invisible today?

When you don’t see something or experience something, it’s hard for you to acknowledge there’s a problem so awareness is key. 

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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