Today, I found a card on top of our mailbox, it read “Love your race”, and the back read”Stop affirmative action” with a link to a website that spewed hatred, with messages as: “We must have new societies throughout the White world which are based on Aryan values and are compatible with the Aryan nature. We do not need to homogenize the White world. What we must have, however, is a thorough rooting out of Semitic and other non-Aryan values and customs everywhere.”
I stopped for a second in disbelief, not because of the intolerance, and hate messages but because it was so blatant, and destructive.
When cultural differences present themselves in any community it can go either way depending on the surrounding factors. They can become an advantage; conflicts can arise or even worst the symptoms of “Isms” start showing when people don’t coexist peacefully.
Racism is perhaps the most problematic of these “Isms”. Simply put, racism is hatred without bounds. It affects all types of organizations and societies.
Racism is when people dislike others simply because of their race, color, religion, gender or even sexual orientation. Those infected by this hatred cannot work well in a diverse environment as they are overcome by their “ISM.”
Many of the “Isms” are the result of a lack of understanding of the various cultures in society. Many individuals confuse culture with race, and lack of communication or knowledge regarding that particular culture creates additional turmoil due to this lack of understanding.
Culture is not only about race or ethnicity but is about common characters such as age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, education, marital and parental status that allow people within a group to have a common identity.
For example, some Native Americans are raised in a tribal group that does not permit compliments in front of peers in public. Therefore, a Native American individual may exhibit displeasure at a public compliment, not because they are unappreciative, but because it is against their beliefs. However, if the person complimenting him does not understand that, they may take offense to it.
When English is a second language or poorly spoken, language can create misunderstandings leading to issues of loyalty. This lack of understanding often leads to xenophobia, a fear of anything that is foreign or unknown.
In a multicultural diverse society, zero tolerance for racism and prejudice should be adopted, celebrate the uniqueness of each culture, learn from it and use it as strength for our community or organization to build a stronger culturally diverse nation. Diversity and multiculturalism are NOT affirmative action created to right a wrong, and was not created to adversely impact anyone.
Granted, there have been cases where some organizations mistakenly applied Affirmative action alienating deserving employees to be employed or promoted because they were not minorities. Does it justify intolerance? Does it justify racism and prejudice?
Diversity and multiculturalism should neither be a demand for special rights for minorities, a threat to protecting one’s own cultural identity and safety, nor a majority ruling.
First, we all need to confront our own bias and prejudice first. Who gets to decide what is normal? Who gets to decide who is right and who is wrong and most of all who are we to judge? We are all human beings sharing more or less the same values and desires, it is not a Kumbaya song, but is reality. We all have in common the love of our families, yearn for freedom, want to love and be loved, want to be safe, want to trust and be trusted, be equal in our rights and responsibilities, and most of all we all look for happiness.
Diversity is about dignity, respect and most of all being human. We spend too much time looking for our differences when we have so much in common to celebrate. We keep looking at the five percent differences while ignoring our ninety five percent commonalities. Join me in looking for our similarities rather than our differences to embrace our different cultures in harmony.
Diversity starts at home.
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC. - Home of the D.I.A.L.O.G.™ Programs
Diversity& Inclusion in Active Leadership Organizational Growth™
(Exchanging Ideas through Conversation)™