Destructive Language Hurts ALL of Us
If the “Act less white” headline from a Coca-Cola diversity training is leaving you feeling defensive, it should. You can’t control your skin color. You were born the color you are in. And honestly, the diversity trainings I’ve been part of as a participant and presenter have never made me feel less than for being white. The speakers who have really helped me understand why diversity training is necessary have been People of Color who ask me to take a deeper look along with a welcome mat that comes from a sincere place.
BUT, the media is using this headline for sensationalism. Coca-Cola and LinkedIn didn’t do their due dilligence in picking an appropriate course to share with employees, but not all of the information was wrong, no matter how defensive it makes us feel. In fact, this training also offered these tips “be less oppressive,” “listen,” “believe” and “break with white solidarity.” And if you look at our national history, or Google “Jim Crow Laws/history” or systemic racism, redlining, pipeline to prison, etc. you will see that there is a lot of truth in these tips and the need for this kind of training.
But no training is going to help blind people see. If you want to stay blind to the trauma POC have faced for centuries, not even a good diversity course is going to help.
Unfortunately, the media is using this to further divide and sell stories because that helps their bottom line.
We CAN Do Something
Something we can do as white people is understand how this destructive language makes us feel and then understand how our society has been doing this to People of Color for generations. We might then see how we can use our energy to make this country safer for ALL people. A place where ALL people feel honored, respected, and truly have equal opportunity. Especially in light of the year anniversary of the murder of Amaud Arbery by white vigilantes who felt confident in their own sense of white justice.
Jim Crow laws were outlawed three years before my husband was born, and he’s only thirteen years older than me. It wasn’t that long ago, so expecting people who are non-white to just live without any restitution regarding the treatment they faced and/or to ignore that it wasn’t that long ago feels in some way like the slap in the face the phrase “Act less white” feels to us. Just a fraction anyway, and if I’m wrong, please correct me.
Here’s a great article to read and help us be more informed and less divisional. This country is where we ALL live. We should ALL hope that we can live without discimination for color of skin, that of which we can’t control. But first, we do need to understand that we haven’t, yet, done enough to make sure that ALL people can live freely from injustice based on the color of their skin.