For me, Black History month is always a time to reflect on where we are today as a society when it comes to acceptance and discrimination. What seems apparent more than anything is the ongoing battle between those for progress and those refusing to change. While I hear people say, “Do we even need Black history month when we have a Black president? We have come so far?” We also see the negative reaction to Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance and allow politicians with racist claims to advance.
I went to a provocative sermon this summer where the pastor challenged everyone to think about race and open your minds by sitting down with someone who is not like you and asking the question, “What does it mean to be you?”
I wanted to bullet a few stories that talk about my experience as a bi-racial female in 2016:
- I have openly told my colleagues at Ideba how amazing it is to work on a team where I am never treated differently because of my race, gender, or beliefs. This is refreshing after experiences where people try to connect with me by speaking in a “hood voice,” or say, “Wow, we didn’t know you were Black,” and much more.
- I could tell you way too many stories of racism I have experienced in my life for being “half Black” and for being “half White” but I would rather focus on where we are today.
- I often walk into executive presentations where no one looks like me.
- I have the most diverse set of friends I have ever had because my kids don’t see race and connect with all other kids and that connects me with new people from diverse backgrounds.
- I attend a church that a year ago decided to start allowing gay members and sadly half the church members left.
- Our technology clients in general employ a diverse pool of talent from different backgrounds across the globe but many of them still struggle with promoting women and hiring minorities. There have been big changes this year to extend maternity benefits and put new hiring programs in place.
- When I took this challenge, I sat down to dinner with some of our Mexican friends. We lived in the Bay Area at the time and thought the diversity in the area would allow people to be more accepting. They described a lot of the discrimination they saw in Mexico based on class and how, in the Bay area, everyone assumed they were there illegally. It was eye opening and I began to be more aware of the interactions happening to the people around me.
I hope you will take the challenge and ask someone NOT LIKE YOU this question. You don’t have to agree with my views or their views. The point is to understand alternative perspectives and not be ignorant enough to believe that your world view is the only one that matters.
Comment below or feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Stephanie Vanterpool, Sr. Project Manager