As I continue on my journey of life, I find the one thing I consistently seek is peace. I enjoy peace in my relationships, peace of mind, peace in matters of the heart, and just general equilibrium as much as possible with most things in my life. Please do not discount the effort it takes for me to create my little oasis of life. I do so amidst a country in civil and moral upheaval. I keep the faith alongside increasing numbers of reports where white people are beating up, shooting at or intimidating women, elders, men, and children who are otherwise seen as colored, unwelcome, and useless portals of life they have to live among.
I have never been one to argue with someone who doesn’t like me. If you don’t care for how I present or who I am, I see this as a matter of personal choice. I have absolutely no reason or right to convince you to feel otherwise. That I operate from a place of allowing others the latitude to exercise their free-will as it pertains to my existence brings up a conflict of interest for me regarding my work and interest in all things diversity, inclusion, and equity. How have I become a part of the D, I, & E movement which stands in stark opposition to allowing people to act as they choose?
Let’s examine. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity say I, as a woman of color, should be accepted as a whole person regardless of my physical and unalienable attributes. It tells white people that I should be included in everything from employment to society equally when they can manage it. It also says that when white people think it is reasonable, they should do their “best” to see that I am treated equitably by ensuring I receive not only what I earn, but what would be offered to anyone similarly-situated. Even if I could convince white people that I am worthy of such treatment I have to also prove that I positively impact their bottom-line. If my presence and contribution don’t make dollars and cents this whole diversity and inclusion thing is nothing more than charity and we all know you’d much rather make a charitable donation than contribute to real and sustainable change.
Can we be honest with one another? The issues as it pertains to people of color and white people aren’t human issues, they are hate issues. It was fear and hate that had white people enslave, kill, torture countless groups of humans throughout our history and it is still fear and hate that causes them to want to thwart even our best efforts to elevate ourselves now. It sounds nice to say we are better together and that the problems we have would be better solved diplomatically in unison. The reality is separatism is what many white people want. They want access to us, our ideas, our culture, and labor, but it ends there. Sadly, I think it is people of color who are pining for white people to love and include us, not the other way around. From a conditioning standpoint, it is hard to break free from a group of people who pride themselves on the fact that they somehow liberated the heathens of us from the animus of the wild and primitive living to the so-called free, societally-acceptable, unequal, and semi-liberated lifestyles so many of us cling to today. We people of color need to get right about why we so love the very same people who wouldn’t think twice to kill us in cold blood or to harm us. It’s kind of masochistic this relationship we have with one another.
Honestly, I could take some time away from having to fit my aesthetic into an overall narrative that was never meant to include me. I would be immensely happy to live among my own in peace never having to explain to another white person why they are racist or how they can stop their own lab-made disease. Nothing would make me happier to live among my own, thriving with lucrative businesses, education for our children that was designed for them to succeed rather than to fail, and a return to our spirituality that is rooted in existential truths rather than man-made rules created to scare and control people. We could celebrate each other and create an agenda for our people to thrive. Future generations would have a blueprint for success. Our skin color would be praised and looked upon in the streets with love and adoration instead of contempt or met with questions masked as insults.
I can think of no better existence than to live among my own in peace if it means I never have to explain why my existence matters to another white person for as long as I live. White people are humans. They bleed, defecate, pee, die, and dare I say sin like anyone else. I will take being separate from them happily if it means we as black people and other people of color never degrade ourselves again by proving our worthiness or take instruction on how to be a human from a group of imperfect mortals.
Let’s separate for peace sake. You go your way and we will go ours. I’d rather you live freely as you wish than to convince you of the universal truth that all humans are one and better together. You can hire whomever you want. You would never have to worry about our social welfare or us infringing on your ability to amass all the riches. Separate works for us, just know we get to take all the inventions, art, music, medical advances, entertainment, agriculture, and more we have contributed willingly throughout the ages. This is a fair dissolution of toxicity don’t you think? Our ancestors deserve to see us bring another Black Wall Street to fruition. Truthfully, it’s not you, it’s us. We’re just kind of tired being in this toxic relationship with you. Our issues are beyond therapy and reconciliation, it might just be best; for peace sake.
As I peruse my social media accounts and watch the range of issues and concerns plaguing the minds of the masses, one thing stands out. It is this new reality of people being bothered by everything and nothing all. Let me explain. People love kitten photos and will wage an all-out war on someone who harms an animal – yet will remain silent if later faced with an update on another black child being killed in Chicago. They rant about a lack of manners and etiquette at the gas pump or in the supermarket, but fail to see how their political or racial rants may be just as lacking in the aforementioned.
While it’s not my job to tell people what they should or should not concern themselves with, it appears to me that we give much more credence to the mundane annoyances we all experience and actively choose to be “unbothered” (as the younger generations say) with facts, integrity, human life and any other virtuous elements that define and illustrate our humanity or lack thereof.
I have heard of friends who were unfriended from posting too many times about the deaths of black kids or the #blacklivesmatter movement, yet they were perfectly acceptable to remain in everyone’s timelines when they posted exploitative twerking videos of people behaving poorly or providing outlandish comic relief.
Double standard much?
I get it! We can’t be all world news, politics, and serious causes 100% of the time. I completely get the need for mindless activities. On this fact alone we may agree. However, there is some serious stuff going on in the world at the moment. I wonder if we would be better off if we all took a few moments from our day to acknowledge the relevance of the human interests of our time. What if we spent fewer moments concerned about the minuscule annoyances we experience day-to-day like no Wi-Fi or an inconvenient flight? Would we then have the time, empathy and energy to digest the societal concerns that require our attention?
By the way, this doesn’t just extend to the digital realm either. I encounter far too many people who are complaining about a plethora of situations and injustices. Again, we all complain. The bigger question is: what is the value of complaining and how does it impact or change what is bothering us? It doesn’t change anything. In my humble opinion, we need to be so bothered by the atrocities of the moment that we actually do something about it. It’s called activism and right now we have a lot of people passionate about being right and uneducated in the facts that inform our reality. The result of this is: an alternate realm of reality where everything that truly matters becomes a nuisance and the things that have little societal or moral value wins the hearts and minds of the masses.
Indecision is a decision. Inaction is an action. Sometimes silence feels like the safest bet when you are trying to decide whether you should risk your reputation to assume an unpopular position. The problem is you are gambling away your values and morals too. It is quite the dilemma, but worth evaluating.
I recently chatted about Feminism in 2016 on my Periscope show “Ask Czarina Live™”. I shared the perils of being a “me” generation and the limits of “social media activism”.
Watch the episode below and share your thoughts about my concept of “being bothered by everything and nothing at all”. I want to hear from you.
On Wednesday 9/9/15, Steve Levy and I kicked off the first of three webcasts hosted by College Recruiter called: Honest Diversity Conversations. The aim of these webcasts is to step outside of the realm of the typical diversity conversations. We wanted to open the eyes of business owners and HR practitioners alike to the issues and missed opportunities that exist when we don’t consider the impact of what’s going on in society, their homes and most importantly the impact of our policies and procedures.
Last week we concluded our Honest Diversity Conversations webinars. Our final discussion was about: Bias Leadership. There are so many ways that bias leadership can manifest itself in organizations. What was clear by the end of our discussion, was that race relations, bias in the workplace among other nuisance variables improve when you take care to put the right people into leadership positions. When you do your due diligence to choose the right leaders, they ultimately do what is right. This brings me to another important point- have we loss our moral compass in the workplace? In many cases, I believe we have. There is so much emphasis on impacting the bottom-line that we forget the impact we have on our employees. This omission of thought is very often unintentional. However, employees don’t want to hear what you didn’t intend. All they know is there are instances and situations where their progress and well-being are not being examined or treated consistently and equitably.
Did you know?
2014 was a record year for retaliation claims filed with the EEOC. According to a February 2015 article by SHRM, 2 in 5 (42.8%) of the charges the EEOC received in 2014 alleged retaliation against an employee pursuing discrimination claims. If your leadership is tuned into the workforce for both good and bad cues – how does something like retaliation reach the numbers the EEOC is reporting? It essentially means that HR departments and leaders are not practicing what they preach, In HR, it is quite customary to have a non-retaliation policy. The piece that many employers don’t get is you can draft and implement any policy you want. The issues arise when you are inconsistent in how you apply said rules and more importantly when the “rule book” mysteriously changes depending on your race, creed, gender etc.
These discussions were not your typical diversity discussions. It was created to discuss and enlighten the masses to what really goes on in practice, with intention, and many times in ignorance. We sincerely hope that you will feel empowered to continue these conversations in your own organizations.
For links to the first two recaps and extra teasers see below:
One of the things that has troubled me throughout my career is the inability for many people to be truthful in business situations. I’m not naive to the art and power of a carefully crafted message versus being blatantly honest; but I still think we could use more truth and integrity than not in business. HR in particular, has always been an area where I never understood the place for deceit. Fundamentally, people want and expect an increased level of both integrity and truth in HR because of the nature of what we do in an organization. Yet, in so many instances we disappoint when we don’t have the courage to be honest with the C-Suite about apparent organizational opportunities or concerns and equally so – when we aren’t honest with our employees. According to a 2014 American Psychological Association: Work and Well-Being Survey, 1 in 4 workers stated that they don’t trust their employers. The question is why do they feel this way and what can we change to turn this around.
When truth is a business imperative, trust is earned.
If we look at the racial events and rhetoric of the day, it is safe to say very few companies – let alone HR departments feel truthfully comfortable addressing what’s going on in society. Somehow, employers have decided it is a conversation for the water cooler, but not necessarily something for them to address. Just take a look at what happened when Starbucks kicked off their #RaceTogether initiative. Good, bad or indifferent, I still believe that Starbucks was well-intended and extremely brave for trying to tackle this very sensitive topic at an organizational level. The unfortunate thing is Starbucks is just one company. Most companies are generally conflicted as to whether or not they should allow dialogue around racism.
For sustainable change to happen on and off the job, we need many more companies and HR departments to stop and think about how you can constructively discuss race, discrimination and other social injustices in the workplace without being scared straight about the legal ramifications.
Every attempt to tackle racism, prejudice or bias in the workplace is generally seen as a liability. As such, we HR practitioners carefully craft trainings and communications to address things like diversity and inclusion, because it is safe, it’s avant-garde for HR and it fills a compliance need. Meanwhile, the burning questions among your employees about your position on social injustices are looming and your neutrality or lack of a straight answer is perceived as concurrence in the negative.
I am not the neutral kind when it comes to racial injustice. The past few years of senseless killings and racial rhetoric in the U.S. have pushed my colleague/friend Steve Levy and I to write about how HR should be handling Race Relations in a rather blunt exposéof current events. Now, we are happy to share that we will be presenting three consecutive webcasts in September sponsored by our friends at College Recruiter to address the need for “truth in HR”. In fact, the hashtag for our series is: #truthinhr. The series is called: Honest Diversity Conversations. We will let you decide if you think we are “honest” enough. The three part series will address: Race Relations & HR, Discrimination and The Hiring Process, and Bias Leadership.
Please consider joining us. I am listing the webcast topics and dates below. We are aspiring to shift the way HR, jobseekers, and leaders approach these incendiary topics.
In addition, I am finally breaking my silence about some of the more recent events regarding race relations. I am providing an honest synopsis of how I feel. You can watch my latest “Ask Czarina” episode here to see what I have to say.
I hope to see you all next month. Let’s keep talking and thinking about how we can do this better. This is about social responsibility. When you’re in business, it should be a consistent consideration.
Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.
Day 16 of 31- Life Data
There’s a lot of talk about pay equality, race equality, women’s rights etc. Equally, I feel that the rhetoric against equality on all of these fronts is increasingly divisive and disrespectful. Additionally, there is something to be said for what goes unsaid, because that too is an answer. Those that read my posts regularly know I don’t shy away from the tough subjects. I have tackled everything from Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” campaign to “Race Relations in the Workplace”. Each time, I learn a little more about the moral paradigm the U.S operates under.
When I called the NYPD out for not dealing with their race issues, I got responses like: “black people are always complaining” or “black people commit most crimes and if they didn’t situations like Ferguson wouldn’t happen.” When I talked about how I thought Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” and “Lean-In” campaigns were short-sighted, I had a man tell me that “there is no such thing as pay inequity.” In all of these instances, I shared my experiences. The comments and moderate backlash is not something I take personally, but I do have a problem when people confuse “experience” and “opinion”.
If I say I have never experienced being discriminated against, but offer up some thoughts based on what I think being discriminated against is like- that is an opinion. If I have worked in Corporate America as a black woman and been passed up for promotions and paid less than my white counterparts- that my friends is a bonafide experience. It is something I would like to call “life data”. No, it hasn’t been incubated and studied with a proper sampling, controls and variables aligned. However, it is something I have experienced and have unofficially corroborated with other black females across the country in similarly situated positions and everything in between. That said, I have every right to speak about these issues.
We have become so excitable about data and proof, that we forget that even one instance of any event serves as some proof that something has occurred. When we are faced with employee complaints or claims in an organization, they are often singular instances of issues that are dealt with on a case-by case basis. It is those individual complaints that often times lead to larger narratives that have to be investigated. If we were to discount the experience of individuals until we had a collection of people coming forward with the same issue- we would:
1) Be dealing with bigger issues because the employee would probably sue or file an outside claim.
2) We would be catching a problem far too late to the detriment of both the workforce and company.
We have gotten very good at discounting the experiences of others in this country. The sentiment is if it’s not happening to me or anyone I know- it isn’t a problem. While I will agree that some of us humans have a completely skewed and screwed up way of viewing the world, even that phenomenon is life data. Everyday we open our eyes and interact in the world, provides experiences that become data we use to inform our decisions in life.
I tell you all of this to say, I am sick and tired of people telling me and others that what we see and experience isn’t real or is at a minimum “a humble opinion”. Until you have walked a day in another person’s shoes, you have no frame of reference. It is not reasonable to swap their experiences out for your sloppy opinion.
The individuals who risked making the comments above forgot to arm themselves with data. I am happy to note that I didn’t go commando, but instead reminded them of the facts using data; I haven’t heard from them since. Poof be gone!
Czarina’s Lesson: Your lack of experience and understanding, isn’t a reason for me to be both silent and blind.