Posts Tagged ‘African Americans’

Why Highlight Someone’s Diversity? Aren’t we all Humans?

Michael Sam was co-SEC conference defensive player of the year in 2013 at the University of Missouri and was the first active NCAA college football player to come out as gay.  (Photo from nbcnews.com)

Michael Sam was co-SEC conference defensive player of the year in 2013 at the University of Missouri and was the first active NCAA college football player to come out as gay. (Photo from nbcnews.com)

NOTE: This blog does contain several links to other interesting pertinent blog entries – please do explore them!

When I publish blogs like my recent “Seven Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating,” I always sit back and shudder, waiting for the comments like “Why do you have to point out that they are gay? It’s completely irrelevant.” I received several comments in that vein when I wrote a blog (link)about the coming out of college football star Michael Sam. One person wrote on my Facebook page about the post, “Who cares if this dude is gay?” And another more outrageous comment: “This people making more of a deal out of gay sports stars than being a Christian is getting old ! We are a nation built on god guns and freedom, not giving a broke **** if you’re gay or straight.”

So I am going to ask a few questions:
• Is it important to highlight women who become CEOs of major global corporations?

Ginni Rometty as CEO of the highly respected huge global company of IBM serves as an excellent role model for women aspiring to senior leadership roles in the corporate world.

Ginni Rometty as CEO of the highly respected huge global company of IBM serves as an excellent role model for women aspiring to senior leadership roles in the corporate world.


• How about African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans or Asian-Americans who achieve great accomplishments in business or government?
• How about a person who overcomes a major physical disability to excel in a sport or in the business world? I am a big fan of a local group here in North Carolina called “Bridge II Sports” which I highlighted in a past blog “My 2014 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Blog – Bridge II Sports.”
• How about people with learning disabilities who become fully productive members of our society?
"Bridge II Sports" is an excellent organization demonstrating that people with physical disabilities can participate in rigorous activities.

“Bridge II Sports” is an excellent organization demonstrating that people with physical disabilities can participate in rigorous activities.


I feel there are two very important reasons to highlight a person’s diversity in this way:

1) It is great to have a wide range of diverse role models so that children growing up will get the strong message that nothing should hold you back from achieving your dreams. With all the negative messages out there around various diverse groups, we all need these positive role models and examples.

2) And it highlights the strengths and advantages of diversity. Companies, teams, countries are stronger when they can embrace the wide diversity that each unique person can contribute to the group.

And we should also remember when highlighting diversity, that straight white men are also a critical part of our rich diversity mix! (see my blog “Diversity and Straight White Men – 4 Key Thoughts”)

Facing the Truth: Racism Still Persists in the USA

African Americans in the USA are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites

African Americans in the USA are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites


In my work as a diversity consultant, I often run into people who assert that racism no longer exists in the United States; that this is an issue we have completely addressed and that we are indeed living in a “color-blind” society where people are no longer judged based on their race. And these same people say that everyone in today’s USA has truly the same opportunity to succeed, and some even further claim that with equal opportunity laws, Blacks may even have an advantage of over the White majority.

But as a white man and a diversity consultant, I strongly disagree. Yes, there has been tremendous progress in racial civil rights over the past 50 years, but truly there is so much more hard diligent work needed to continue to address and eliminate racism.

What is racism? One simple definition I like is that racism is “the belief, often accompanied with behavior, that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” And racism can be categorized in two ways: personal racism and institutional racism.

Personal racism is when an individual acts maliciously against another individual or groups of individuals primarily based upon their race. Two examples of personal racism:
• The very well publicized recent story (link) of fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma exuberantly singing a racist song which included the N-word and references to lynching.
• A professional black colleague of mine recently shared that earlier in the year, when stopped at a traffic light, a car of three young white men pulled up beside the car, rolled down their window and yelled “Nigger, Nigger, Nigger.” I supposed they were obsessed that a Black professional could work hard, succeed, and drive a nicer can then they.

Institutional racism occurs specifically in institutions such as governmental bodies, corporations and universities where systemic policies and practices within the institution have the effect of disadvantaging certain racial or ethic groups. Evidence of institutional racism across the USA includes the facts that:

The poverty rate among Black Americans is nearly double the general population, and particularly impacts women and children

The poverty rate among Black Americans is nearly double the general population, and particularly impacts women and children


• The 2010 US Census showed that 15.1% of Americans live in poverty, but the rate is almost double for Blacks (28%). Over the past two decades, there are been virtual no improvement in income disparity between Blacks and Whites.
• African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rates of whites, and even though Blacks and Hispanics only comprise 25% of the American population, 58% of all prisoners are Black or Hispanic. Causes of this include a racially bias justice system and the lack of economic opportunities for Blacks. (link to details from the NAACP).

Not all racist acts are as blatant or intentional as the example provided above. Many racists acts come as a result of unconscious bias or the naïve offender who may not even be aware of what they are doing. Unconscious bias and naïve offenders who are open to learning and personal growth provide opportunities for great teaching moments and constructive dialogue that enables understanding in these sensitive areas.

This short blog only briefly touches on this issue so I encourage my readers to admit that racism certainly is still present in the USA and that we all need to continue to advocate and diligently strive to build a more just and fair society that truly treats and values all equally.

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Additional Links:

Blog on “The Growing Culture of Poverty in the USA.”

A blog on how businesses can align with the community to address poverty issues.

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