White Man Ironic Again

“A white man is part of a diverse world, people should never forget that.”  Richard Cutts

This wise retort to “White Man Ironic” caused me to take a a second look at what I said and what I implied.  

I implied that a white male should not be leading a seminar about diversity. I made this leap without explanation. Therefore my second implication was that this was so obvious that all would agree. I was wrong. Not only did Mr. Cutts point out the obvious but my very success friend PeachFlambe added depth and breath to Richard’s straightforward message. If you don’t read comments you should check out what she said here said before continuing.

So lets continue this dialogue.

First of all I am as a rule against superficial evaluations/discussions of a topic. To me that is how bad things happen, like finding your military stuck in Iraq. Yet I did this with White Man Ironic. Thankfully I was called out on it. There was a thought process:

  • white males dominate the leadership of Corporate America. Beyond the stats, I know it to be so because professionally this is the world I work in every day.
  • to clarify, I am talking about straight, Christian (or Judeao-Christian) white males(WM) since gay, Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist, white males I would consider outside the mainstream
  • as a white male I assumed that everyone who fell outside of my narrow WM definition would expect that someone from outside this definition would participate in the leadership of a diversity seminar. My assumption was based on a perceived need for a symbol of diversity, not that the selected moderator could not be well versed on the issues. Can a WM alone represent diversity? Would non-WMs find this believable? Can a WM truly know how it feels to be something other than a WM?

As Richard and PeachFlambe note, WMs are part of the world. Some WMs are capable of being part of a world that embraces others that are different than he. I surely hope that people who know me would put me in this category. Not all non-WMs accept others who are outside of their particular category.

That was not my point. I just thought that a seminar on living with diversity should have a more diverse leadership. Often saying less is more. In this case perhaps a bit more should have been said.

To quote PeachFlambe:

“Many people see me as an example of the “success” of diversity efforts (and their predecessors, which we used to call Affirmative Action.) I’m often asked to talk about my career to young people and give them advice on what it takes to be successful. What they are surprised to hear is that the people who had the most impact on my success were….white men. They were the ones who recognized my talent, mentored me, gave me opportunities, pushed me to go beyond where I thought I could go, and, yes became my friends. They didn’t do it because of any training program. They did it because they looked beyond the physical, cultural and social differences and saw my potential.”

I like to write. To have my voice heard. However, what I get the greatest pleasure from is debate, discussion and dialogue. Few things would make me happier than a greater sharing of ideas right here on 48Facets. Thank you to Richard and PeachFlambe for making my Sunday afternoon.

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