You choose: vocal participant or sideline spectator?

February 18, 2021

Diversity – “the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.”” the state of being diverse; variety.”

Equity – “the quality of being fair and impartial.” “Justice according to natural law or right, specifically: freedom from bias or favoritism”

Equality – “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.”

Bias – “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.” “Causing to feel or show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something.”

These are words commonly used when discussing the state of my country these days and in most countries around the world.

The voices of those who have historically been mistreated because of their different characteristics are being heard through action.

Whether it is gender, race, age, sexual preference, religious or spiritual beliefs, political beliefs or whatever makes another person unique to themselves, these traits are causing a great lack of harmony in our human existence.

The great debate is how do you fix it? The even bigger question is should it be fixed?

If one wants true diversity, then you must accept those “rotten apples” in our society too, as weird as that may seem for me to say.  The only way to fix it is to bridge that gap of understanding between those who do not want to change and those who seek it. The lack of communication between opposing forces is prevalent and another barrier to overcome.

The question is how?  The answer lies in the perceived threat itself, which I have heard a lot about these past 5 years, the Caucasian, heterosexual, homogenous, male.

I know this is a crazy idea but hear me out.

First let me go to an example that recently occurred during two different sessions at my new school.

This school is trying to break that “culture” that exists within the tech industry that is mostly Caucasian, and male dominated.  Historically, it has never been that diverse or welcoming to someone that did not fit that “invisible” mold whether perceived or true. 

If you were to look up statistics in most STEM related fields, it is dominated by Caucasian males. There has been a surge in recent years to draw in more females and ethnicities into this field of work.

Now here is what happened during these two different group sessions or at least how I perceived it.

The same person was in both sessions and just from brief interactions with him in other group learning, I already had my perception of him in my head just by his demeanor alone.  As a minority female you grow up learning who you can trust and who you need to be leery of until you know for sure. It is that self-preservation, safety, security, and being aware.

This person may be true in his stated desire to understand but his wording and actions tell a different story, to me at least.

His said “I don’t understand why people are so focused on the melanin of a person’s skin?” as well as the statement of “I want to understand and become an ally” may be truly how he feels. Yet, he threw in his own personal narrative into the conversation and tried to make it seem less like a human rights issue but rather just a misunderstanding that we are going through.  He has been blinded and made deaf to the issues.

He kept stating his own belief system that he grew up with that was if you work hard enough you can achieve anything you want.  This is not true when the society you live in has a different standard for a non-Caucasian person. He has that advantage of fitting that mold even with his own religious beliefs. He has always been the “right” person for the job even if he was not. It was always based on a preconceived notion of him because of his skin color.

Asking people who are living through this change to the social construct and being targeted by those who do not want the change, to explain it to him what the real issues are, shows that he really does not want to be an ally and he fears this change as well. 

He must become informed through his own research. All you must do is look at social media, the news, films, books, and articles throughout history to see what is going on. It is all around you. You must be willing to truly open your eyes to see it. It is in every community, business, and organization out there whether openly or hidden.

If he is true and wants to be an ally to these causes demanding equality and equity, then he needs to let his voice be heard in support of them. He needs to stand up when something is not right and defend those who are being mistreated. He needs to stop standing on the sidelines and being a spectator. He cannot pick and choose who he wants to support; it is about equity and equality for everyone.

There is nothing out there that says we must wholly agree with another person’s belief system or who they are as a person. The basic right we all share is to live our life free from bias, tyranny, and persecution.  We have the right to live free from harm to our overall happiness and well-being.  That is what humanity should be about, everything else is just extra to make us more diverse from one another so we are not all the same. 

Society could not function if we were all the same nor would we want to live that way.  The only caveat to that is that there must be some sort of social order that society feels is the moral imperative, which is another basic human trait, the ability to know right from wrong.

To me he is the “same” person that I have dealt with in every organization that I have worked for and attended.  That person, who does not want to make waves, is supposedly vocal about their concern but only privately and never publicly.  They talk the talk but never take a step forward. They fear losing what they have and do not want others to “dislike” them, especially if they are unsure if they are on the right side of the conversation. They become agreeable to anything.  They will appear to be harmless but are causing more harm than good because of their lack of action.

In the military we had a saying “Shut up, put up, or get out of the way”, I think that applies to these situations.

I personally do not know this person and have not walked in his shoes or lived his life.  This is all just my opinion based on observations.

I do believe though that the only way to make significant changes is to support those who are putting their lives on the line.  To keep sharing the information and educating others while keeping the momentum going.  To be willing to stand up for those that need your help when there are only spectators around who are not willing to step up.

If enough people stop being spectators to life, then those who oppose changes will not have that “silent” support anymore to fuel them and their agenda.  Those that want to keep the status quo and current state the same because it benefits them.

That portion of society only benefits because others lose out on their full potential.  The equity in wealth and way of life is unbalanced.  In the age we live in some social issues should not still be prevalent such as lack of clean water, food, healthcare, education, better wages, and affordable housing.  These are choices that should be made freely to those that want to change their situations, pursue their dreams, or change their outcome.

I have gone off on a tangent and veered from what my observations were, but all these things fall under basic human rights and what needs to happen to ensure that everyone has the choice to decide how their life goes.  Whether we agree or not, a person still has a choice.

As I move forward in this program, it will be interesting to see how this person’s demeanor and presence is accepted within the culture that is being built.  I don’t fault him for his beliefs because I also grew up with that same idea that hard work will pay off in the end.

The difference is that I was also told to not expect to be treated fairly and that I will have to work harder because my skin color was not the right one.  All the rhetoric will never make us equal, only action will.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Have a great week ahead!

Peace, love, happiness, and good vibes, always.

Suzanne

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