Over the years, some of my trainers would come back and complain about how unruly and confrontational some of the participants were in their workshops. I looked at them and simply said: “I know…they just don’t make participants like they used to.” They were shocked and confused, because they weren’t sure if I was mocking them or showing sympathy. The truth be told, what I was trying to convey was that this diversity work we do isn’t easy. We wouldn’t be doing these workshops and trainings if discrimination wasn’t an issue in every institution and facet in this country. Being confronted and invalidated is a part of why this work is so needed and why it is also emotionally and physically trying and stressful, but also rewarding and satisfying.
You see, having a new president, doesn’t mean we’re going to be post racial or post anything. Long before Trump was elected we were knee deep in sustained denial as hundreds of police shootings of young black men and women went unnoticed in the media and in our communities. American Indian women were missing in the hundreds, people were homeless, hungry and without jobs and the climate getting worse each year, long before Trump. And it will continue to be so unless we remain committed to bringing these injustices out into the light by not only talking about them, but also finally doing something about them. As I have pointed out in all my trainings: transformation happens when people feel heard, understood, believed and when there is a willingness to change.
I know that these white supremacist groups, Proud Boys, and Neo-Nazi groups are growing and festering all over this country and even the world. I also know that hopelessness is everywhere and that we are at a precipice as a people and as a country. As BIPOC folks we experience discrimination at our jobs and in our communities daily. We may also be wondering what it would be like at a different job or another country. All of those options are available to us, but I would like to put forth another possibility: that we are where we need to be. That sometimes change takes place where we are most needed.
I remember a line from the film, ‘Contact’ where Jody Foster loses out on a space mission because an influential guy unfairly takes her place. When she bumps into him the next day, he says to her in short: Don’t take it too hard. That’s the way things are. Of which she replies: Hmmm, I always thought the world was what we made it.
Someone once said that there are two important moments in our lives: the day we were born and the day we find out why. When I look back on my life, I would never have imagined I would be where I am today. But, what I do know is this: Every day we each have the power and the opportunity to make this a better world. At least that has always been my hope and my prayer for each of us, for this country and the next generation.