Diversity! Inclusion can be tricky, not-always-genuine business, but under the pressure of globalization it basically is a must-have policy for any organization who wants to be competitive. That’s good news for a lot of qualified, traditionally underrepresented people who have been waiting patiently on the sidelines to prove their worth, take their shot and score one for the home team. In my opinion, tokenism is a necessary evil because regardless of what motivated the people in power to open the secret door – even if it is proving that diversity is poor policy – the door is open. Remember that expansion of growth, access and opportunity piece I mentioned?
It all starts with someone being brave enough and capable enough to make a few personal concessions and gain a different perspective, even if it means backlash and outrage from the people that they love so dearly (The Obamas, I see you!).
Most people live in a world of constant balancing acts, regardless of which genre of otherness weighs on their psyches. We all are just trying to figure out how to eliminate the hyphens in our identities enough to feel emotionally and spiritually whole. This struggle, this plight of “double-consciousness” is eloquently described by W.E.B. DuBois in his 1903 book, The Souls of Black Folk:
The Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
Deep stuff, huh?
All the tokens are just out here trying to find our balance somewhere between Bojangles and Nat Turner. So, the next time you see a brother sweating in a suit, offer him an ice cold sweet tea. The sister with the Madam C.J. Walker fresh press needs a firm hug. Being alone in the wilderness isn’t easy, but I for one do it with quiet valor and pride. I do it because I’ve learned a lot of useful things that I can bring back home, and from my vantage point I see a lot that others don’t.
All I’m asking is that you see me, too.
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