Friday, February 26, 2016

Message from BDPA Atlanta Chapter President

BDPA Atlanta – The President’s Roundup – A Dialogue on Race

Derrick Brown
Race continues to be a point of conversation, confusion, condescension, convolution and equivocation. As our society and culture evolves so too does the conversation and concept of race. On Wednesday February 17, 2016 BDPA Atlanta continued its conversation on race with expert facilitator Tia Buckham-White of Notre International.

Why do I describe the issue of race in the fashion I just did? Because quite simply that is how race has changed over time. It has always been difficult, however as colors change, people change, ethnicity and cultures rise and combine we have begun to regard race with both simplicity and complexity in equal measure. Was he being racist? Was he not being racist? Did she really man to do that? Can you be a racist and Black? Was she subject to unconscious bias? And now we have Asians, Indians, Arabs, Africans, East Europeans, Gays, Trans, Muslims … you name it, we got it. The Diversity Wheel Turns and Rises!

Race and racism are no longer just about Black and white.

Now, just to be clear as I have done before and I will reiterate again, my perspective on race (and it is mine) is quite simple. There is only race with regard to sentience on this planet, and that is the human race. We come in all shades, shapes, and sizes. The more real differentiator is the ethnicity of our origin and the cultures that arise out of our societal structures.

That’s done.

Tia led us through a discussion of what we as African Americans have experienced in the corporate environment. She shared many of her personal experiences leading Circle Dialogues with executives at fortune 500 companies. A Circle Dialogue is a powerful tool used to generate deep personal conversation between people on difficult topics, often leveraging personal experiences and backgrounds.

One of the most powerfully illuminating stories she relayed to our membership was how in one dialogue a white female executive who many Black people thought might be racist for whatever reason revealed that she was practically raised by a Black family. Another vice president revealed how hurt he was because he could not allow his kids to visit his parents. His wife was white, his kids were white, but his parents were staunch racists and he absolutely refused to expose his children to such hate. Pause, and simply late that settle in for a moment.

Our conversation on Wednesday continued along these lines. We discussed tools that we might use in order to better manage the overt as well as subtle challenges we might encounter in the work environment. Often enough these challenges are exercises in perspective, and the clarity that can come from good dialogue that embraces positive conflict and a sincere effort to lean into discomfort can readily drive us towards a good outcome, dispelling racism and driving towards tolerance and acceptance.

BDPA Atlanta will continue these exercises with Tia Buckham-White and over the course of 2016 we will offer workshops that dig deeper into how we manage the angst, conflict and lack of opportunity that can arise from racism. This is the commitment BDPA is providing to you. A value proposition we are certain you can believe in. If you are not a member become a member today!

The Aspiring Critical Thinker,
D.S. Brown, President
BDPA Atlanta

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