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It's Hard To Talk About Racial Inequality And Why We Should Do It Anyway


By DAWOLU SAUL


I remember thinking on the evening of December 31, 2019 that 2020 would be my year. I would ground myself, grow and prosper. I would strive to be better a better father, husband, friend… just a better person.

It is now October of 2020, and I find myself wondering what is going on, and when am I going to wake up from this very strange dream.

We are roughly eight months into a global pandemic, and amidst all the chaos, the world has suddenly realized and more importantly acknowledged that racism is still alive and well, and that friends and colleagues suffer daily from discrimination and marginalization.

The question now seems to be, what is the best way to address the problem we have now collectively agreed is still there? As leaders and managers, we are not equipped and are often ill-prepared to have meaningful conversations within the workplace about racism and discrimination. I would also argue that as Black, Indigenous or People of Colour, (BIPOC) we are likely scared to bring up the issue for fear of what may happen in return.

So, if we are ill-equipped or fearful, then the best course of action no doubt is to just avoid it and play nice with everyone, right? No, we must seek to have meaningful conversations about racial inequality, discrimination and systemic barriers and the oppression they can cause. We have to create a safe environment by first overcoming our mutual fear.

I recently participated in a learning event where I moderated a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion and it was a great discussion with some passionate individuals. Ironically, the panel right before me was a career-oriented panel that was discussing the life of an executive and what employees could do to advance their careers to the next level. I was however disappointed to notice that while the panel was a mix of male and female participants, the ethnic make-up was unfortunately homogenous. There was not one BIPOC role model to be found.

I could have left it at that realization, but I thought to myself that this was a perfect opportunity to start a conversation. But with who, and how do I do that? I