By Michael J Griffin
The global pandemic has magnified the differences between races, ethnic groups and “suku” across the world. In my state where I was born, Michigan, African Americans are dying from Covid at about double the rate of white people. I do not need to elaborate on the recent deaths due to chokeholds or arresting people in prone position. And I do remember the day Martin Luther King was killed and how myself and another African American utility worker grieved over his death.
I am blessed that I have lived in South East Asia for over forty years and seen how races can live, work, collaborate and respect each other. My experience as a trainer coach with people of many races has humbled me to accept and respect others different than me.
I do know from my own daily experience that being respectful and inclusive requires my personal initiative and openness to accept and respect others as God made them. It requires suspending judgements on others different than me and be wary of the amygdala activation in my brain telling me otherwise.
See this article in Psychology Today magazine “Racism and the Brain: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/202006/racism-and-the-brain
I remember when my oldest daughter was 2 years old. I showed her a photograph of three babies, one Asian, one white, and one African American. I asked her, “Which baby is the prettiest?” I waited for her answers as she looked at the photo. She said, “All the babies are pretty.” Whew!
Take the quiz below:
Fill in the blanks with what comes to your mind:
- _________ are all lazy people.
- _________ are unclean and dirty people.
- _________ never make good businesspeople
- If caught between a ________ and a cobra, kill the _______ first.
- ___________ can never be trusted, all they want is to make money.
- My people /country are certainly superior to _____________.
How did you do on the quiz? What races or ethnic groups came to your mind?
Racism is learned. Racism can be unlearned but it takes effort.
Every day I read The Daily Drucker, a compilation of Dr. Peter Drucker’s thoughts and ideas on management and organizations. Today, June 25th is from “Concept of the Corporation, written in 1946. Read below:
Human Dignity and Status
Peter Drucker in 1946
It is perhaps the biggest job of the modern corporation—to find a synthesis between justice and dignity, between equality of opportunities and social status and function. The modern corporation as a child of laissez-faire economics and of the market society is based on a creed whose greatest weakness is the inability to see the need for status and function of the individual in society. In its refusal to concern itself with the unsuccessful majority, the market society was a true child of Calvinism with its refusal to concern itself with the great majority that is not elected to be saved. Following the English philosopher Herbert Spencer, this belief is now expressed usually in the language of Darwinian “survival of the fittest” rather than in theological terms. But this does not alter the fact that the philosophy of the market society only makes sense if the unsuccessful are seen as “rejected by the Lord” with whom to have pity would be as sinful as questioning the decision of the Lord. We can only deny social status and function to the economically unsuccessful if we are convinced that lack of economic success is (a) always a person’s own fault, and (b) a reliable indication of his or her worthlessness as a human personality and as a citizen.
Drucker’s Action Point: Provide dignity to everyone you work with simply because
they are human beings.
How might we provide dignity to all we interact with? When I train leadership, I often teach Jack Zenger’s “Basic Principles.” These 6 are the behaviors and attitudes that are the foundation for treating all human beings with respect. Their basis is “Do unto others as you want done to you.” Here are the 6 “Basic Principles for Inclusivity” (with my input) below:
- Focus on the issue, situation or behavior, not the person, his race or creed.
- Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of people different than you.
- Maintain constructive relationships with all you meet.
- Take the initiative to make things better – be inclusive and take personal action.
- Lead by example – Let your actions speak of respect to others who are different.
- Think beyond the moment. What are the consequences of your interaction with other races?
Start today as Drucker says “Provide dignity to everyone you work with simply because they are human beings.” Be an example to all you meet that you are a global citizen who respects people of different color, race, religion and sex.
Give Hope. Be Courageous. Lead by Example.
Michael J Griffin
John Maxwell Team Founder
Trompenaars Cross Cultural Consultant