I'd like to talk about diversity in the workplace. This has been a hot topic for at least the past 15 years and I am committed to the notion of equality and fairness for all, including white males. After all, isn’t that what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the words, “All men are created equal”? Do you think they only meant white-skinned, Protestant, eastern European males? Let’s hope not. What I believe is that most of the isms (racism, sexism, ageism, etc.) come from two camps---ignorance from a lack of direct experience and fear.
Those who fall into the first category are people who are basing their belief system on very limited and possibly negative experiences with members of the target group or no direct experience at all. Our allegiance to our biases may come from loyalty or connection to others who have expressed strong prejudices against the target group. When we are raised in a household or a segment of society where stereotypes are freely expressed about a particular group, then it becomes uncomfortable to stand against those belief systems, particularly when it leaves us standing against loved ones and those we have known our whole lives.
Also, it’s possible to have had a single or a few negative experiences with members of a particular group. It’s human nature to distance ourselves from wrongdoing so when we are involved in a negative experience, we attempt to categorize how our offender is different from us. If we can latch onto race, ethnicity, gender or age, then it’s somehow a relief to be separated from the perpetrator. The problem with this, however, is that we are developing broad, generalized prejudicial beliefs about a group of people that is based on just one or a few of its members.
How would you like to be judged by what a few members of your identified group do? Have you ever been judged by something someone else did? Have you had to overcome stereotypes and biases you picked up from others that you later learned were untrue? What are your experiences.
Tomorrow, we'll talk about those who are afraid.