Monday, February 20, 2017

“Mirror, mirror on the wall… Who’s the most diverse of all?”

“It ain’t you, my friend. You’re standing in this bathroom alone!”

It’s true… the only time you DON'T experience diversity is when you are standing alone in the bathroom looking in the mirror.

Heck, you don’t even have to look in the mirror. It’s true – with or without the mirror.

Diversity happens as soon as two people are together.

That’s because no two people are completely alike.

They’re like snowflakes. Or prisms. Or crayons.

Wait, crayons are mass produced….


Diversity is about difference. It’s what makes this journey on this planet so much fun.

Think about it…

….  If you were walking down the street and all you saw were people who looked exactly like you, wearing the same clothes you wear, driving the same car you drive…

It would be like high school all over again!

Seriously, diversity is really the elegance of this existence.

For me, if I’m sitting around giving my opinion, it is WAY more FUN if someone disagrees or at least adds a twist or a turn that I hadn’t considered. 

It’s the learning curve.

I LIKE IT when people disagree with me, when they have opinions that are different than mine – even if it is only a little different!

The only things I know are what I have experienced, thought about, learned about, or looked at closely. My blinders are painted in the colors I can see and only in the colors I can see. 

I need others to expand my colors, expand my experience, to give me a more diverse outlook, more things to think about differently.

Your experiences, thoughts, learnings, and considerations are different than mine. And if you’re culture, language, upbringing, experience of class or privilege or.. or… or…
Is different!!!!

THAT’S diversity.

Can you see why it’s such a celebration? Why there’s so much to learn?

There’s no way I can experience everything myself. Consequently, I want to meet as many people with as many different experiences as possible.

Please, tell me more about you, about that thing you considered over there or the learning you had right here or, what did you call that whatchamacallit?

Let’s ALL stand in front of the mirror, together…

“Mirror, mirror on the wall…  ain’t we so diverse and all?”

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What if the open violence in the U.S. is really an open door?

Understanding the Opportunity!

I have watched as the climate of this country has increased in the expression of open bigotry, open hatred, and some resulting violence.

I know it isn’t new or sudden. It has been brewing for centuries. 

The fear mongering of the last decade has fed it, the political climate nurtured it. 

And... it is right on time in the Cycle of Prejudice

The upheaval of the last several years was predictable.

In the Cycle of Prejudice, prejudice starts as totally sanctioned; mainstream approved, acceptable, even expected. Think of slavery, for example (though it is not the only example).

Prejudice was the norm, accepted as a fact and created as a foundation within the infrastructure.

Then over time it became less acceptable to some….

…. Then it became less acceptable to more… 

then to many…  

soon there was a violent push for it to end (Civil War).

It became law that slavery be eliminated. The expectation was that the prejudice that accompanied slavery would also be eliminated. Laws went into place to require equality between blacks and whites in various forms, various settings.

…But you can’t mandate will.

The prejudice simply went underground.

While there, it festers and brews. Blame, stereotypes, anger; they all grow – deep and dark – until, suddenly they erupt.

During the era of mandated will when racism was not-so-politically-correct, words and acts of prejudice and violence increase; slowly, subtly at first becoming more brazen, to more blatant (consider the limelight of police brutality, of Black Lives Matter). 

The senses of the public become almost dulled to it, almost callous to the occurrences as they rise and increase and become the norm.
And then prejudice again becomes accepted. It is large and out loud; brash, vulgar, and sometimes violent.

That’s where we are again.

Prejudice is loud, large, above board, seemingly approved and accepted.

It is uncomfortable…. But what if this open hatred, open prejudice, open violence is actually an open door?

What if it is the BEGINNING of real respect and equity within our society?

Can you see the possibility?

When prejudice is underground, it is almost impossible to deal with. It is easily denied. It is often subversive, insidious, and hard to identify.

When it is “loud and proud”, that’s when the opportunity truly exists; 

…the opportunity for dialog.

The dialog isn’t about an expectation that people are transformed into singing Kumbaya in the streets, holding hands with a happy ending with Grinch-like transformations.

It isn’t about even changing people’s perspectives or how they think.

It’s about teaching and expecting and holding individuals and groups to the idea of simple respect.
I’m not talking about the type of respect that is earned. I’m talking about the type that is given; simply and civilly.

Such respect is about increasing individual and collective tool boxes. Learning to manage the self in conflict, in differing opinions, in the process of being offended, of not liking someone or something someone does.

Building tool boxes begins with dialog. 

Honest, difficult dialog that interrupts the Cycle.

It starts with “the choir,” those of us who are already ready, who already get it.

We start by exploring our own behavior, beliefs, implicit and explicit biases; challenging them in one another, owning our sh*t.

It starts by recognizing our privilege (virtually everyone experiences some level of privilege) and stepping into the power and responsibility of that privilege.

In this way, we are at the beginning of a great opportunity to interrupt the Cycle of Prejudice; as individuals and as a society.

Not by punishing the hatred (different than accountability).

Not by futilely attempting to mandate will (that hasn't gone well yet).

But by checking ourselves first – checking our bias, our privilege, our blind spots, our painful spots.

And talking about it.

It starts with you.

And remember, that’s something you have control over.

YOU can start, continue, and expand the dialog.

Baby steps.

I look forward to anyone who wants to engage in that conversation. 

Tweet @LeahKyaio #letstalkaboutthehate

Email me.

Comment below.

Do your part – start the conversations.

With Respect,

Leah R. Kyaio

Photo by Markku Solopuro