Change the Name It’s too Controversial

Recently, I had a call from a diversity coordinator who was intrigued about the title of the program. As I shared she said that people may have trouble with the title of the program. I asked her why. She said that people would think it was racist or would make people feel uncomfortable.

She wasn’t the first person to say that, and sadly she won’t be the last. I shared with her the same thing I’m going to share with you.

If I write “Hispanics are Diverse, Too!” most people would agree. Hispanics are a very diverse group of people. Most people assume that Hispanics are the same, they are not. Even their language is different. That is why meeting planners now request that their presenters speak formal Spanish known as Castilian Spanish (the language standard for radio and TV speakers) because of the variation among Spanish speakers. The food is different from country to country. Religious beliefs are also different. Hispanics religious beliefs include Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, and yes even Jewish and Muslim.

If I asked you are “African Americans are Diverse, Too!” people would say yes….but when questioned further people share that “African Americans are Diverse, Too!” most often the reason cited is because of economics or education. When I ask an audience “What is ‘Soul’ food?” Most audience members will say chicken, black eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread. The word ‘Soul’ was applied to food (Soul Food) when, according to Wikipedia, “in the mid-1960s, the word ‘soul’ was a common definer used to describe African-American culture (for example, soul music). However African-American culture varies for instance. During African American History month many people serve ‘Soul Food” as the food of choice for African-Americans.

For a second generation Nigerian that may be different:
“When Nigerians crave “home cooking,” though, the specific dishes won’t necessarily be the same, says Kehinde, because favorites differ among tribes and even within tribes.For instance, the Hausa people of northern Nigeria favor meat kebabs; the Ibos of the south are partial to luxurious stews of fish, shrimp, crab, lobster, rice and vegetables — precursors of Louisiana gumbo or jambalaya. In the central part of the country, the Yoruba people, to which the Kehindes belong, enjoy stewed meats but divide on whether to serve mashed yams or mashed cassava alongside. Aderonke grew up with yams; Modupe’s family must have cassava.” shared Aderonke Kehinde in an interview for Meagwali.com

Or a second generation person from Belize, Central America:
Whose comfort food may include escabeche (an onion broth with chicken), chirmole or relleno. The food might include fish sere and hudut both of which are made from coconut milk, conch soup and the ever popular, thick cowfoot soup. .

We, you and I, must look deeper and not make assumptions of people. Not about Hispanics, African Americans, or women. The same goes for White Guys. We must look deeper and learn about the individual. No one owns diversity. We are all diverse.

White Guys are very diverse group of people. Religion, cultural history, immigration and family foods . You may think that comfort food is the same – hamburgers and fries… Well many people worldwide eat hamburgers and fries. White Guys and their families may have different comfort foods depending on their background. Here is a sampling of comfort foods that have been passed down through families.

Irish – Irish soda bread, Cockle soup, turnip soup, Irish stew
Polish – Pierogi (filled dumplings), Bigos (Hunter’s Stew), Kotlet schabowy (breaded pork cutlet with seasoning)
English – Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings and Fish and Chips
Australia- Anzac biscuits, meat pies, sausage rolls, potato croquettes and Promite

Know that “White Guys Are Diverse Too(tm)!” Just as Hispanics, African Americans, women, veterans, as well as you and I.
Have you seen the video at www.WhiteGuysAreDiverse.com?

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18 Responses to Change the Name It’s too Controversial

  1. I essentially use the same premise in the workshops I facilitate on cross-cultural communication and diversity. If people become more self-aware of their own diversity and cultural influences, I believe they are able to connect and communicate more effectively with others. Plus, I found your title amusing since I recently published a post on my website titled “Can a White Person Teach Diversity?”

  2. Rosie Walker says:

    One of the best Chautauqua courses I ever experienced was on teaching students (in this case STEM students) from diverse backgrounds. The course was taught by Craig E Nelson from IU and he spent a bit of the first day talking about how a white guy from the midwest could know anything about diversity. He was very persuasive on how being an introvert from a small rural town could make one as much a minority as any other set of variables. I think many of us will relax when we stop trying to put everyone in boxes and just accept individuals as fellow human beings

  3. Cate Larsen says:

    You could say “Caucasians are diverse too!” because quite frankly, “white guys” doesn’t even include woman for goodness sake!

    • admin says:

      True.. we are all diverse. There is an acknowledgement among most that women are diverse and have been part of diversity and inclusion efforts.

  4. Ann says:

    While I understand the premise of this article, I think that the author completely missed the point of the diversity movement. The workplace is generally dominated with the majority group- white men. Diversity is supposed to increase the visible presence of people that do not look like you. The reality is that for so many of the majority group, minorities make them uncomfortable because they are different from you. Until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes as an African-American Woman, you can’t begin to tell me you have had the same experiences. That just makes us different. But you need include experiences in your conversation that are much broader than the types of food you eat, or what was your mother country.

  5. Richard Boice says:

    Is it always undesirable for people to feel uncomfortable? If a title does not attract some attention, it is not a good title. Much of the U.S’s greatness has resulted from the many different European groups, who were separated and fighting each other in Europe, working together for the common good in the U.S.

  6. Jack says:

    Diversity is about recognizing the value of different perspectives that come from a group of men and women with a range of experiences, cultural backgrounds, training, and working styles. When this recognition is embedded into a company culture, the richness of this mosaic of thinkers frequently leads to more innovative solutions for current and future challenges. This leads to a “virtuous cycle” where management and employees actively seek diversity of views which in turn results in more success. Such a company will be user-friendly for employees from all backgrounds, races, religions and genders. On the other hand, if diversity programs focus on transferring influence from one group to disaffected members of another group who have not been given a fair chance, the likely outcome is disaffection of the first group. I do not know the author but believe that this is the core of his message.

  7. H Baker says:

    Being a white guy, I am quite familiar with the fact that white guys can’t talk about diversity because it is so very politically incorrect. Personal experience has shown me that my own awareness of, and deep respect for, cultural diversity is irrelevant in the vast majority of such discussions. Nobody really wants to hear it from a white guy.

    As long as some group feels they are less fortunate than another group, say for instance white men, then white men will remain the bad guys. White guys are generally understood to be the top of the cultural and economic food chain, working to keep all the other groups down. Bad guys. Without a bad guy, the struggle for the other groups’ freedom from what (who) is keeping them down becomes meaningless.

    To those who complain constantly about being culturally disadvantaged, it often seems that everything unpleasant is construed to be the result of discrimination. When your only tool is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

    The ‘white guy’ side of the table is only a part of the puzzle. I will continue to try to do my part and try to not give in to futility of political correctness.

  8. Mark says:

    I think you really have to decide you want to be offended by this cute little presentation of information. Sounds like the censors need to just move on.

  9. Hugh Colburn says:

    Diversity is not Diverse

    ACS doesn’t even define what diversity is, and neither do most organizations.

    If one examines diversity, one generally finds that it is used to promote leftist causes. In addition, non-leftists like Justice Thomas, or Ms. Palin, are demonized, and while the abuse is heaped upon them through vicious character assassinations, Feminists (a recognized diversity group) lend no support. Diversity is being used to silence new ideas, and freedom of speech.
    While Lawrence Summers resigns Harvard, and Feminists like Nancy Hopkins (already the beneficiary of one diversity and affirmative action program after another) tours the country expressing her never ending outrage, Gordon Gee doesn’t even offer an acceptable apology – all because Caucasian ethnic groups don’t qualify as being diverse.

    Using the phrase “white guys” promotes the idea that something is wrong with being white, and there is something wrong about being male. Under diversity, Sally Ride takes precedence over Neil Armstrong and John Glenn.

  10. Tim Chavez says:

    At a previous employer, I was encouraged to become active in a Corporate Diversity program. I was one of the few degreed Hispanics and am visibly successful. I became a Diversity Leader and was also successful at leading my team and being an encourager of both diversity and equal rights. I was not a beneficiary or a fan of quotas and yet acknowledged the numbers showed the need for corporate action. It was an opportunity to talk about it. My boss, not at all involved in this program and fairly uninformed about it, pulled me aside and asked “Why are you doing this? You are not one of them.” meaning I am not a minority clamoring for rectification of inequalities at the corporate level – code-speak for not being for quotas..He caught me completely off-guard. Today I welcome ALL written and spoken challenges to diversity, because what we need most is opportunities to talk about them in level tones. Our company’s rank and file responded to the corporate diversity effort in amusing style by establishing a White Guys Diversity group and it REALLY helped to lower the bar for getting conversation about diversity STARTED in willing voice tones. I LOVE this title for that reason. Let me in on this conversation. Yes people will imagine potential offenses, and THAT is your cue that this is someone who wants to have a sane conversation about this often hot-potato topic. Don’t miss those opportunities to smile and ask them to tell you more about how they feel, and then respond with human kindness, no matter what they said. Before we had a White Guys group, Diversity membership was mostly the minorities talking to each other, a culture that mostly breeds discussion of our inequities and what we might be owed. A legitimate but self serving discussion, a dead end unless you like lawsuits as your form of conversation. As a Diversity Leader, I set the example to mostly talk about what we can bring, and THAT is how you get everybody interested in Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, Germans, etc… God loves us all. [even me !]

  11. Trisha says:

    Too bad skin color, and even ethnicity, tend to dominate the perception of diversity. Our concept of diversity is much broader on the community college scene! It includes less tangible or outwardly visible factors such as learning ability, socioeconomic and educational background, life experience, married?/with kids? status and probably a slew of others I’m missing!

  12. A. Chemist says:

    I would suggest changing the name. The possible negative implications well out weigh the any possible positives. Why not just “We are All Diverse” WAAD for short. It conveys the same concept with no negatives. It is all about “appearances”. If the diversity coordinator said “people (might) think it was racist or (might) make people feel uncomfortable”, then that is a good enough reason to use another name. Why “go there”? You are inviting the potential of unneeded trouble.

    A. (wasp) Chemist.

  13. admin says:

    Not sure what ACS is and they are not sponsoring this. In response to your comment “Yes, you are racist.” you made an assumption of who the creator of this program is and why it was created. I am a female, Puerto Rican woman who is a leader in leadership, diversity and inclusion and chose to highlight a dimension of diversity that is not discussed.

    The actor never, ever mentioned that businesses and enterprises will fail without white people. It does say that by not valuing all people, including white men, that we discount an individual’s ability to be productive, innovative because they are excluded from the diversity discussion. I personally had to overcome my own bias, fears and perceptions of white guys. I was guilty of lumping all white men together. Yet I would get ticked when someone lumped all Hispanics together. Hispanics are diverse too. White guys are diverse too. It is a fact. There are over 126 dimensions of diversity.

    As far as Denmark is concerned. They are very much involved with diversity and inclusion. They – just as the rest of the world – have become a diverse country in many. By saying that Denmark isn’t diverse – even if it was still primarily a Nordic community– you discount every white Danish male who is disabled, gay, in different strata of education and economics. Every man that has ever been bullied or abused. You discount every Danish military enlisted and officer who has vastly different experiences and perceptions than those who have not served.

    We are failing our country and the world as a whole if we only see people through one dimension. If we don’t see our ‘diversity connectors” the ways we connect, then how can we make the world a better, richer tapestry.

    Thank goodness I had and have white male mentors, supporters, advocates and friends. Thank goodness that I can search within myself and connect with a Caucasian male on so many levels in business and for social good. The world is not a us versus them. It is a diverse, magnificent place where you and I can connect for good.

    You made a lot of assumptions about this program without even attending one. You made a lot of assumptions about who designed it and who sells it and why we do it. You lumped white guys into a negative whole. That is a shame.

  14. admin says:

    I agree that it matters when a person finds him or herself as the only woman, only African American and only Hispanic in the room. Inclusion for all is key. The only way to experience inclusion is to also see how we connect on other levels. I have often been the only woman and the only Hispanic in the room, however I also found that I was connected to the people in the room by being a parent, being a mother of two soldiers, being passionate about leadership and mission success. I found that it made a difference in my life and my career which opened doors for others.

    Because of this work with White Guys and our research there are many white men that are now the only white male in a unit. Remember that in the US Census 51% of all managers and professional are women, 60% of all college graduates are women, 30% of all college graduates are people of color. Those new employees are entering a different world.

    If white guys and those that work with white guys do not see or recognize the diversity of white guys then how can we have diversity and inclusion initiatives that increase productivity, innovation and success. We need everyone to be valued and appreciated and innovative!

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