Which of my kids is “Black Enough” to count in your diversity metrics?
As I prepare to help Philly launch the NorthStar conference (a digital conference for black and brown people). I can’t help but wonder, both of my boys are black, are they both welcomed? Heck what about Vietnamese people in our city, are they included? I was conflicted.
That leads me to deeper questions on diversity, which I’ve always struggled with.
I think diverse teams make better products / outcomes. I can thank Leslie Miley for opening my eyes to that on this podcast.
What happens when one type of diversity is worn publicly (skin color) and many others are not (like class or gender)…could you imagine someone saying, we don’t have enough “Sexual Orientation” diversity, to their CEO/HR/ETC, its like how the fuck do you know? I had a friend who was challenged on gay/trans diversity in their company, to which she was like…ummm “how do you know” to the person who challenged her.
This leads me to…
… Is my lighter son able to claim his blackness? If someone wants a “diverse speaker lineup”, would they skip over him if he doesn’t go around wearing his blackness on his sleeve? My other son wears his on his face.
My wife recently ran a conference where some of the feedback she got was that they always have white men keynote (or something to that effect), but the keynote was actually bi-racial, he even mentioned it. But once he got on stage a certain minority of voices painted him as a white guy, so when he mentioned that he was biracial, it never registered b/c they were so amp’ed up on “another white guy” talking about diversity topics.
Honestly, if you’ve ever tried to put on a conference that had an ethnically diverse speaker lineup, would only one of my sons have met your criteria? If so, you don’t count people who are part black but don’t pass your skin color test unless they come out with a raised fist or something? Do the only people who count wear this on their sleeve or on their skin?
As a lot of well meaning folks push for diversity, I can’t help but wonder, what happens to biracial people? I’ve seen biracial people at Seer who look like one ethnicity claim both races, claim multiple races, and claim one of their two. That is their right 100%, it’s their truth.
That’s a huge problem with this push to diversify our workforces…if companies publish diversity numbers, does my lighter skinned son count 1/4th as much as my darker skinned son? Who gets to make that call?
Is it like, who’s more likely to get pulled over and shot by a cop? Is that the way we determine who’s black enough to count?
This is the complexity we must respect… Then with transgender, if we allow people to say, hey I identify as gender A, even though I was born as gender B, can we allow people who look white to say I identify as black now ? Or vice versa? How’d that work out for Rachel Dolezal?
This shit is complex, I believe in diversity, just want to add more thoughts to a complicated effort. Let me clear this up for all you well meaning do gooders out there, I’m THANKFUL that you are pushing for inclusivity, just keep in mind that this shit is complex and in including one group, are you making judgements about another minority group / forcing them into buckets?
Maybe the first answer is to not have a number, but without that we don’t have accountability.
I’m at a loss, but I want to be part of the solution, I know that.