Female standing while talking by table

We better get better at the conversation…

Yesterday, I began to write a post here about race. 

I was looking to incite a discussion on how we’re told that we can’t talk about, or that we shouldn’t talk about, racism and racial divide in the work place.   As a seasoned Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practitioner, (and an experienced facilitator of hundreds of D&I conversations with scores of professionals over the last several years), I simply do not agree.

My position, in part, is that we MUST talk about racism (and other divides) at work, but we MUST learn to talk about it in the right way.  I believe and lately, (with relevant timing), have been screeching this message from the rooftops. The message that if we continue to dance around the subject of race, (as it seems that many of us have gotten good at doing),  we’re going to find ourselves in even greater trouble than what we’re in now; trouble like Megyn Kelly.

Megyn Kelly Today

I got up early this morning to finish a project and turned on NBC to catch the tail end of the Today Show. Distracted, I looked up at the television only as I heard Jenna Bush Hager fundamentally denounce a comment apparently made by her colleague Megyn Kelly yesterday regarding Halloween costumes and the reprehensible practice of “blackface”.

Megyn Kelly talking about Halloween incident
Source: http://bit.ly/MegynComment

I wouldn’t ordinarily watch the Megyn Kelly Show as I’m not a fan.  However, her show was up next, and she grabbed my full attention as she opened with an apology. Looking directly into the camera, Megyn offered a solemn and emotional apology for the comment that Jenna Bush Hager alluded to.  Immediately after, she introduced her first panelists Roland Martin from CNN and Amy Holmes from PBS.  I thought “oh… lemme stop typing.  This is gonna be good.”  I didn’t realize how good, or why.

Megyn’s apology started out sincere-sounding enough.  She shared that “the country feels so divided and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor. Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too.”  

Roland Martin speaking on Megyn Kelly incident
Source: http://bit.ly/RolandMartin

Interestingly, if you watched the clip of her original statement (above), she seems to suggest that she didn’t realize the damaging implications of blackface. Roland Martin did a superb job of explaining how it appears that in this country we are “in total denial about how race is deeply embedded.” His comments were spot on.

And I do think that some of us are in denial, yes. I also think that some of us have been softly lulled to sleep by how good we’ve gotten at “being good.” Megyn mentioned that she isn’t usually a PC person. But a great number of us are.

Opening the conversation

Empty conferene room

Over the years (especially in the workplace), we seem to have become so very PC, so very vigilant, so very careful not to talk about race. We’ll address “diversity” but only in the safe lanes of “the numbers” = recruitment, hiring, promotions.

It seems that in our attempt to not offend, we shy away from the very type of conversations that could help us unpack the harshest of behaviors that divide us like: (racism, stereotypes, discrimination etc.). To the extent of fooling ourselves to believe that these evils exist less.

For a great long while now, we’ve practiced politeness with such great meticulousness that we seem shocked as the unhealed and infected wound of race rears its head all around us.  With the country now feeding on a diet of division, the need for consistent, measured and thoughtful conversations leading to racial understanding is past urgent.

In large part because these matters have always been right there, brewing just underneath the surface with many of us covering up what we really think and feel.

Megyn Kelly commentating

Frankly, I’m glad Megyn made her gaffe.  It underscores, once again, the need for unparalleled frank dialogue that we need to engage in far more than just when our slips start to show, and thoughtless comments expose our real feelings.

But here’s the thing.  We better be ready to start this kind of unexampled honesty with a sense of deep comity, a commitment to listen for understanding and a decision to bridle emotions so that true understanding and a sense of healing can be achieved.

Megyn rightly asked, “…but how do we talk about these things.”  This question comes up all the time in Fortune 500s that seek to build strategies that celebrate diversity and promote inclusion. 

Final thoughts

We’ve got to start really talking about our racial divisions. If these discussions are happening where you work, I hope that there is realness, vulnerability and true civility at play. It’s imperative that we talk about race with those who don’t look like us in a manner that allows for deeper, longer, discourse.

That discourse ought to fiercely challenge the denial that Roland spoke of, in conversations handled with shared respect, IF we truly care about healing the racial divide in America. So much more to say here… watch this space.

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Gigi Gilliard

DEI&B Facilitator

Also known as a Conversation Architect, Gigi has established over a decade of knowledge and expertise in the field of diversity and inclusion as a writer, speaker, and thought leader.

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Female standing while talking by table

We better get better at the conversation…

Yesterday, I began to write a post here about race. 

I was looking to incite a discussion on how we’re told that we can’t talk about, or that we shouldn’t talk about, racism and racial divide in the work place.  

As a seasoned Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practitioner, (and an experienced facilitator of hundreds of D&I conversations with scores of professionals over the last several years), I simply do not agree.

My position, in part, is that we MUST talk about racism (and other divides) at work, but we MUST learn to talk about it in the right way.  I believe and lately, (with relevant timing), have been screeching this message from the rooftops.

The message that if we continue to dance around the subject of race, (as it seems that many of us have gotten good at doing),  we’re going to find ourselves in even greater trouble than what we’re in now; trouble like Megyn Kelly.

Megyn Kelly Today

I got up early this morning to finish a project and turned on NBC to catch the tail end of the Today Show. Distracted, I looked up at the television only as I heard Jenna Bush Hager fundamentally denounce a comment apparently made by her colleague Megyn Kelly yesterday regarding Halloween costumes and the reprehensible practice of “blackface”.

Megyn Kelly talking about Halloween incident
Source: http://bit.ly/MegynComment

I wouldn’t ordinarily watch the Megyn Kelly Show as I’m not a fan.  However, her show was up next, and she grabbed my full attention as she opened with an apology.

Looking directly into the camera, Megyn offered a solemn and emotional apology for the comment that Jenna Bush Hager alluded to.  Immediately after, she introduced her first panelists Roland Martin from CNN and Amy Holmes from PBS.  I thought “oh… lemme stop typing.  This is gonna be good.”  I didn’t realize how good, or why.

Megyn’s apology started out sincere-sounding enough.  She shared that “the country feels so divided and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor. Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too.”

Roland Martin speaking on Megyn Kelly incident
Source: http://bit.ly/RolandMartin

Interestingly, if you watched the clip of her original statement (above), she seems to suggest that she didn’t realize the damaging implications of blackface. Roland Martin did a superb job of explaining how it appears that in this country we are “in total denial about how race is deeply embedded.” His comments were spot on.

And I do think that some of us are in denial, yes. I also think that some of us have been softly lulled to sleep by how good we’ve gotten at “being good.” Megyn mentioned that she isn’t usually a PC person. But a great number of us are.

Opening the conversation

Empty conferene room

Over the years (especially in the workplace), we seem to have become so very PC, so very vigilant, so very careful not to talk about race. We’ll address “diversity” but only in the safe lanes of “the numbers” = recruitment, hiring, promotions.

It seems that in our attempt to not offend, we shy away from the very type of conversations that could help us unpack the harshest of behaviors that divide us like: (racism, stereotypes, discrimination etc.). To the extent of fooling ourselves to believe that these evils exist less.

For a great long while now, we’ve practiced politeness with such great meticulousness that we seem shocked as the unhealed and infected wound of race rears its head all around us. 

With the country now feeding on a diet of division, the need for consistent, measured and thoughtful conversations leading to racial understanding is past urgent.

In large part because these matters have always been right there, brewing just underneath the surface with many of us covering up what we really think and feel.

Megyn Kelly commentating

Frankly, I’m glad Megyn made her gaffe.  It underscores, once again, the need for unparalleled frank dialogue that we need to engage in far more than just when our slips start to show, and thoughtless comments expose our real feelings.

But here’s the thing.  We better be ready to start this kind of unexampled honesty with a sense of deep comity, a commitment to listen for understanding and a decision to bridle emotions so that true understanding and a sense of healing can be achieved.

Megyn rightly asked, “…but how do we talk about these things.”  This question comes up all the time in Fortune 500s that seek to build strategies that celebrate diversity and promote inclusion. 

Final thoughts

We’ve got to start really talking about our racial divisions. If these discussions are happening where you work, I hope that there is realness, vulnerability and true civility at play. It’s imperative that we talk about race with those who don’t look like us in a manner that allows for deeper, longer, discourse.

That discourse ought to fiercely challenge the denial that Roland spoke of, in conversations handled with shared respect, IF we truly care about healing the racial divide in America. So much more to say here… watch this space.

Signature
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on pinterest
Black and white image of Gigi

Gigi Gilliard

DEI&B Facilitator

Also known as a Conversation Architect, Gigi has established over a decade of knowledge and expertise in the field of diversity and inclusion as a writer, speaker, and thought leader.

Close of Business
Social Media