Diet Diversity

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Since entering the world of education some twenty something years ago, I’ve always noticed that there has inherently been something taboo when talking about diversity. This was even truer once I entered high school and beyond. One of the reasons people have always been so wary of addressing the elephant in the room is the fact that many people feel like discussing diversity is “hard” or “uncomfortable.” My question is how are you ever supposed to learn anything if you learn away from discomfort?

My life thus far has been all about dealing with adversity and overcoming it. This is never an easy thing to do when you feel that the world is against you. At every turn, I have had individuals tell me how “lucky” I am or how great it is to see someone like me succeed. Now I know that not all of these comments were intended to be rude, but they are. What I’m gathering from these comments and other like them is that I am an anomaly. That I am a unicorn in a field of horses and that because of the color of my skin in addition to the perception that come along with my melanin, that I am somehow less than.

This has become even more so as I began working at a private preparatory school. As I have been traveling for work and making connections with people, I have started to recognize “the look.” When I say the look, I believe that any person of color who has ever been the only minority in the room knows what I mean. For me, it initially causes a moment of panic that I cannot manage to control.

I have noticed that since my name is Edwin, people do not expect that a 5’5 black man will answer to such a name. When I make appointments to meet with potential marketing opportunities for the school, I have seen the surprise on people’s faces when I extend my hand and introduce myself as the director of communications. Part of me believes….or wants to think that some of this surprise derives from my age. Not many 24-year olds can say that they are a director of communications for a non-profit such as the one I work for.

It isn’t until I start speaking that people fully realize that I am who they have some to meet with that the look of dumbfounding leaves their face, yet I find them questioning anything that I say. The same was said for coworkers and other individuals I interact with on day-to-day basis at work. Other young people work for this organization, yet I do not see them questioned in such an accusatory manner. One of the girls I work with who is the Director of the Annual Fund, she is greeted with smiles and warm welcomes because she is a non-threatening Caucasian female. Yes, she is often questioned because of her perceived age, but when people question her, they choose their words very carefully. When it comes to questioning the decisions I have decided to make, I feel like I am met with hostility and smart comments. I have overheard people talking in the halls about how I was only hired to fill a diversity quota. Since I am a black gay male, many of my coworkers feel like I am not equipped to do my job, which baffles me because the person who had my position prior was a female.

At first, I thought all of this was in my head, but when my boyfriend came to visit, he quickly picked up on this dynamic. “Why do they speak to you like that,” he asked, genuinely curious. All I could do was shrug and say, “I don’t know.” Now if a seemingly cisgendered white male is picking up on these micro-aggressions, something has to be wrong. (No offense baby) The students have even picked up on these exchanges, yet I do not feel like I can voice these concerns to the other members of the administrations for fear of being labeled the “angry black guy.”

This is why I make the case that most of the world, especially in corporations or educational setting always likes to refer to their efforts surrounding diversity and inclusion, but do little actually to provide a safe and inclusive environment. I call this the diet diversity effect. Yes, a place may look diverse, but so many minorities within these environments still feel like they are being left out of the diversity conversation.

I also would like to clarify that diversity doesn’t just mean one’s race or ethnicity. There is a whole slew of diversity representations that never get noticed by mainstream media.

Just some thoughts….

Until Next Time…

Take Chances, Make Mistakes….Get Messy!

This week I was featured in an article!

On last Thursday (April 16th) I was invited to share my story on how visiting El Paso has changed my life, and how I plan to keep the lessons I have learned while there alive as I continue through life. My apologies for not completing my El Paso blog posts,  but I felt that they were very personal and that I should keep those experiences to myself, but like always if anyone is interested in my El Paso experience that I spoke to immigrants coming to the US (Some legally and some illegally), feel free to shoot me an email with your questions.

I’ll like the article here: Check it out!

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Be Kind To Yourself!

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Over the last week I have been working insane hours  so that I can hopefully be able to afford a possible move to the West coast in the near future in, addition to finishing the ridiculous amount of work I have had to do in my classes. (Graduate school can be a pain sometimes).

Then Yesterday in the middle of my global behavior economics exam I had a moment of clarity. WHY AM I STRESSING MYSELF OUT OVER THINGS THAT I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER?!?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that it is important to have some type of plan which will allow you to navigate through life, but it makes no sense to stress yourself out and to put yourself down when you are not in a position to accomplish your life goals right away. Also remember that plans change….often!

For example, my plan was to have all of my work done by this weekend. I can tell you now that it’s not going to happen. I do know that before May 18 I have to finish all of my final projects in all four of my graduate classes prior to starting my graduate capstone on May 9th. In addition to, I also have to find an internship, decide if I’m staying in Boston next year and if so resign my apartment lease. If I decide not to stay I need to sell a large portion of everything I own so that the move to the west coast Will be easier. THEN I have to find a job on top of said internship so that I may be able to support myself. AND I probable find a place to live…Yeah….that would be great….

All of this within itself has causing me such grief that I have been putting myself down. I’ve been asking myself why I don’t have everything together  yet. Why am I not in a situation where I can get all of this work done and have my post graduate life together? I’ve  been angry with myself for not being “functional human being” when I have been receiving on average four hours of sleep per night.

Basically I haven’t been being very kind to myself and remembering that I am only human. I have my flaws and my shortcomings but that doesn’t make me a bad person.

(Side note) I know that during a very important exam isn’t the normal point in my day where I should have been having this moment of realization, but that is also out of my control. BUT! What is within my control is being kind to myself.

So what I don’t know what I’m doing yet. I know that something will pan out and I will be able to get to where I need to be. I know that if I keep sending out resumes and going on apartments that eventually someone will see my potential and hire me.  Then I will be able to plan where i want to go and where i want to live ect.

So until then I’m going to be kinder to myself and to stop stressing. I know I can’t be the only person who feels like this so I’m here to remind us all to be kind. Be kind to other and be kind to yourself. Just take a few seconds to remind yourself you are exactly where you need to be.

I red a quote earlier today, but I can’t remember the source or the exact word but the gist of it was “Do not compare your chapter 1 to someone’s chapter 20. ” We all go through life at our own paces…so stop making everything a competition.

Just go with the flow!

(My apologies if this isn’t very coherent, its currently 6:30 Am on a Friday and i just got to work so I’m not truly awake yet ahah)

Until Next time! Take Chances! Make Mistakes! GET MESSY!!!

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Ushering In a New Era

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As I sit in my living room in Boston Massachusetts (Because I’m snowed in again….thanks Mother Nature), I have to ask myself. Will this Black history month be any different than the ones which came before it? In schools, will teachers actually teach the history of our nation which is too often watered down or swept under the rug red white and blue rug, thus allowing a majority of our history to be forgotten by the patrons of knowledge who will one day cultivate our futures.

Personally I believe that America just might be moving towards a dialog regarding race that has not been addressed since the abolishment of slavery in 1865. 150 years, in terms of history that isn’t a long period of time. The scars of slavery still plague the Black community as a whole even today.

Note that I did not say African American community because it goes so much deeper than that. The treatments of Blacks not only in America, but around the globe has be extremely detrimental to our development as a collective culture. More often than not you will find individuals who will go out of their way just to explain to none people of color that they are NOT black because their great great great grandmother was Irish or that their grandfather twice removed was Native American. This type of segregation and unwillingness to admit one’s own blackness is part of one of the major issues that people of color much overcome if we are to move forward. It is time to admit to ourselves that “Yes I am black, this is what has happen to my people as a whole and this is how it has affected me and my family. Once one is able to admit this, then they will be free to move on and start to build a future free of the self-oppression which we all have grown so accustom to.

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In abolishing our differences (aka team dark skin or team dark skin as it is known on twitter) People of color will be able to move on. I can’t tell you how many times people have made assumptions about me because I am a “fairer skinned black man”. Being called house slave or Mulatto growing up was super hurtful, just like I can imagine that growing up as a darker complexion black could be just as equally hurtful being called names like tar baby (Which fun fact was a character developed by Walt Disney in the 1880 depicting African American’s and other blacks as a character of stupidity who deserved to be disrespected). But I digress.The_Wonderful_Tar_Baby

At the end of the day we are all black, and receive the same horrific treatment herein America. My hope is that we can move past the divide and conquer mentality passed down to us by slave masters and come together to demand equality for all races, classes, religions, sexual orientation and any other category which would make someone a “minority” in America! For too long we have been the butt of racist jokes and police brutality. It is time to make our issues known to all of America and to demand that something be changed! I am not a second rate citizen! I pay my taxes and follow the laws of this country just like everyone else!

So let this black history Month be the turning point for all people of color. We have a lot of work to do, but in holding our government and fellow citizens accountable for their actions. We can start to make a change. Do not forget Ferguson or any other horrific act of racial profiling that occurred in 2014 to go unchallenged. It is time for America to make a change! So let’s BE the change we wish to see!!!

Singer D’angelo has already made a powerful statement on national television to kick off Black history month…take a look

Until Next time! Take Chances! Make Mistakes! GET MESSY!!!

The Rhode Bro Twins Come Out To Dad

So as I mentioned before 2015 is the year of change. For some uncanny reason I have a feeling that this is going to be the year that will help everyone as a whole move forward with their lives and clearly, I am not the only one.

Meet the twins
Meet the twins

Aaron and Austin Rhodes models and YouTube stars for the widely popular YouTube channel “The Rhodes” Bros also feel like this was an important year to make a change. Much like other individuals before them, the brothers felt that it was time for them to start being open and honest about their sexuality and utilized YouTube as the medium in which they would come out to not only their family, but the world.

As someone who also used YouTube to come out to my friends and family, I understand how nervous these two boys had to have been. Unlike myself, they chose to come out to their father in real time via a telephone call and recorded his candid reaction.

Now (Time to your you heads) imagine that you had this huge secret that was holding you down and making you feel like you were constantly on the verge of drowning. You fear that if anyone were to learn this secret, they would treat you different or stop loving you all together. For many people in the LGBTQ community, this fear of being “found out” is an everyday reality and people struggle to stay above water. The raw emotions in this video shows how much courage and strength a person must have in order to come out.

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Now this courage does not just happen overnight, no. It is a process…..a journey where each individual must travel alone and navigate their own way. Even though these two are twins, their journeys towards accepting the fact that they were gay and then being able to tell their twin as well as other people much have taken some time. Just take a look….

Personally this journey took me years to understand and to accept. I wanted so badly just to be like everyone else that I failed to realize that being unique and myself was a good thing. So many times people get so bogged down with what is expected of them or how society thinks that these people should live, that they forget to do what makes them happy. We only have one life to live and we much make sure that we live it to the fullest. Hiding and denying such a huge part of ourselves from our self is toxic. Being held down with feelings of guilt and not belonging takes a toll on a person’s psyche. It isn’t until we are able to start to love are self and ALL of our self that we are able to become whole and to move on. The same is said as one comes to terms with being gay.

I’d just like to take the time to congratulate these two men with finally coming to terms with their sexuality as well as being able to share this information with the world.

Way to get messy guys!!

Until next time! Take chances! Make mistakes! GET MESSY!!

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