As Black History Month comes to a close, I want to remind you that, no matter who you are or what your background is, love yourself and don’t be afraid of others. Fear leads to hate and hate leads to evil. You can love yourself and your heritage without hating others. When I say “black power,” there is no history of hate behind that. The problem black and brown people have with those shouting “white power” is the history behind that saying. But what if we could all, regardless of race, could love our own culture and truly not look down at others? Wouldn’t that be amazing?
I challenge you, on this, the twenty-eighth day of the second month of 2017, to ask yourself “Why do I cross the road when I see a person who looks like this?” Or “What made me feel unsettled when so-and-so walked into the room? Was it his size? His race? His age? His dress? A combination of the three?” You see, all these things are about our levels of comfort and, though you crossing the street doesn’t directly impact anyone, it spills over into the people you hire and choose to promote. There is statistical evidence that managers are more likely to hire people they would be comfortable hanging out with outside of work. If you cross the street when you see a black man or you snicker when you hear a Latina in the grocery store speaking in her native tongue or you happen to feel a pang of terror when you get on a plane with a Middle Eastern man who says “As-salamu alaykum” as he hangs up the phone with his wife, it is safe to say you wouldn’t be comfortable hiring them, ultimately preventing them from being the best human being (or American if that’s more important to you) that they can be. So start questioning yourself. And, after you ask those questions, seek out opportunities to make the changes that need to be made. Because, after reading this, you can clearly see that your cultural incompetency can have a negative impact on the lives of those who just want to make this world a better place.
Make cultural competency a priority.