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Diversity Without Power Is Still Not Enough

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine in response to a photo posted by the Huffington Post. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the link: Diversity Without Power Is Still Not Enough by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine.

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If you’re a professional and a person of color in America, chances are you’ve been part of at least one meeting, a team or a department where yours was one of (if not) the only [insert race or culture] face in the crowd.

Yet, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reports, “In the U.S., the white portion of the working-age population (generally ages 25 to 64) is declining, while the minority portion is increasing.”

While we’d like to think that our personal experience is the exception and not the rule, the picture below tweeted recently by Liz Heron, Executive Editor at the Huffington Post, seems to spit in the face of this statistic.

HuffPost Editors Meeting Twitter Photo M Michelle Derosier

To answer Ms. Heron’s question, we notice much about this editors meeting. While we give kudos to the solid representation of women, we’re disturbed by the poor representation of people of color.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that in this room sits many who decide which stories are worth sharing and whose voices will tell them. In an organization that draws in more than 200 million unique visitors a month; she who controls whose story is told, shapes reader perception. For those who are saying that this group of women aren’t execs or CEOs and don’t move the financial needle of the company, remember that power can be just as much about who controls the narrative as about who controls the purse strings.

And that is at the heart of my issue with this photo. It’s such a vivid reminder that those climbing fastest or currently highest on the power pyramid – the key decision makers – rarely look anything like the changing American landscape. In 2014, nonwhites accounted for 38 percent of the U.S. population, but those who hold the power to shape multimillion dollar companies are barely a blip on the radar.

An article posted, ironically, on the Huffing Post found just over 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs in 2014 were minorities, a classification including African-Americans, Asians, and Latin-Americans.

To underscore the significance of the power of those in control of the finances as an example, according to Fortune magazine: “In total, the Fortune 500 companies account for $12.5 trillion in revenues, $945 billion in profits, $17 trillion in market value and employ 26.8 million people worldwide.”

Whether 100, 250, or 500 – whatever the Fortune ranking of companies of total revenues for their respective fiscal year – minority representation in key leadership roles is practically nonexistent.

With so few minorities governing the path of these companies, our collective power to see real change that will elevate the social economic status of the masses and not just the few, is significantly diminished.

While we should celebrate–loudly–the people of color who make it into the door; we should never be satisfied with diversity in just the cubicles. We need equal representation at the decision tables. We can start with one voice, then push for two, and continue for three. However, may we never stop until companies such as the Huffington Post are tweeting photos that represent a racially and culturally diverse group of decision makers.

 

 

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#DoGoodDoWell, #DoWellDoGood, #HopePusher, Brooklyn, Education, Mentoring, Socioeconomic Status

Are the teenage attackers in the McDonald’s violent brawl more than their horrible action?

Animals. Thugs. Savages. Worthless space in our society! Lock them all up, do society a favor.

This past week a horde of high school-aged girls viciously attacked another teenage girl in a Brooklyn McDonald’s while customers watched, many laughed and at least one recorded and uploaded the brutal act. The comments above are a sampling of thoughts and feelings posted on the Facebook page of a local news channel in response to the story.

Like many others, my first reaction was horror followed very closely by disgust. However, while reviewing various online comments on this story, I noticed an unfortunate trend that the disgust was directed not at the act, but at the girls themselves. You might wonder about the difference. To me, the names and statements directed at the girls have the power to do more harm than good.

According to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist David Caldwell, “one’s own behavior can be altered by self-fulfilling prophecies. Referring to someone as negative or “bad” in some manner can elicit that same type of behavior, and it can affect the person’s own self-beliefs. If I believe that I am “bad”, I might act that way because I now think that is all I am capable of doing.”

In the ten plus years of working with teenagers who fit the same general profile as these girls, I have seen firsthand the destructive power of internalizing the labels of hoodlum, thug, animal, underachiever and so many more. I have seen that when expectations are set low, a number of the teens without appropriate role models in their lives, will actually seek to prove these expectations right. To the detriment of their well-being, they disregard what is right in order to own the black mark society has set on them. Think of the expression cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face.

I am not condoning their horrible behavior nor saying anyone else is to blame for their actions, but what I am saying is that we as a society should be careful not to write them off as unreachable and unredeemable. And that happens when we start to believe that they are inherently evil and stop to believe that they can be separated from their evil actions.



McDonald's Violence

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