A student told me after listening to my speech “Diversity & the magic in you” for the 2nd time. “You absolutely have to keep going, you give us courage.”
He also said, “Can you imagine how it feels when fellow students refuse you to work in a group because you would make their grades worse because of your background?”
Another listener told me after my speech: “You know, I work in a nursing home. There are people who say to your face, “The black man is not allowed to touch me”. Dear readers, it’s the year 2021!
Of course, we’re not in on whatever happened. I’m still shocked. What are people afraid of? Why are some of them so bitter? When we find this truth – we don’t even have to share it with others – we can truly question and change our thought pattern.
When I watched the documentary “Schwarze Adler” I cried. In this documentary, Afro-German soccer professionals like Gerald Asamoah and Shary Reeves talk about their experiences. Moving, touching, eye-opening. If what happened to me was bad, how bad does it have to be to be insulted at a stage? These people already have other challenges. At home with their families, performing under pressure and going to the authorities.
So the former Bundesliga player Shary Reeves
“(…) that was bad (…). I was thinking how do I do that now. How do I know so that I don’t have to endure this pain anymore and then you believe these stories. There are soaps. You can wash yourself with it and then you will be white”.
Anyone who knows me knows that I rely heavily on personal responsibility. But self-responsibility also requires space. Magic needs space.
Do we create this space of encounter so that we approach each other curiously and thereby change our perspective?
Today I have 3 tools for you and your team, which in my experience always work. It doesn’t matter what aspect of diversity/inclusion it is. Remember, there are challenges like this in the countries where we were born, too. Dealing with diversity starts at home.
Whether you are concerned or if you have someone to listen to or give a chance: don’t wait for politics, the “powerful organizations” or “they up there” to move.
Find your way. Do not put up with it. There are multiple possibilities. Maybe you’re quick-witted like Anthony Baffoe who, when someone insulted him, replied “Listen (…) you can work on my plantation”.
According to Shary Reeves, “Tony fought for us. That was a pioneer in the topic ‘I’m not going to put up with it. I resist it. I’ll also say something about it’ (…)”.
…or how Gerald Asamoah made a mark.
Shary Reeves on Gerald Asamoah “You couldn’t stop Gerald (…). He was literally torn down because it was difficult to block (…) he brought that lightness into it. This joy (…). He spread something that took away the fear of the people in the stands, where people thought “that’s a cool guy after all.”
It is important that you don’t forget your roots, combine the best of your life path and work on your self-esteem. No one can do that for you like muscle training.
I always say that someone who shouts something hasn’t thought about it enough. And neither should you take it with you. Find allies, exchange ideas and turn your anger into solutions.
At the latest when you realize that there are even more crass stories than yours, you will find your way to deal with it. It is important that you share your story with others and encourage others (see also point 3).
Even if there are so many bad experiences, we must never forget: most of them, for example here in Germany, are very curious and very helpful. I don’t mean the help that makes small, but really ready to receive us. For this reason alone we should not allow ourselves to be made small.
True self-reflection helps here.
2. We need people who stand by others
We need more people who stand by their values and are not afraid of what colleagues or customers would think if, for example, a black person suddenly took care of the customers.
I have already told you about my interview partner who said to me “Ms. Omondi, I would take you, but my customers will not accept you…”
How many times have I heard that “What will my colleagues say?”.
Here’s the point: not everything co-workers say is relevant. Stand by your values, your colleagues will thank you for being brave. Who should make the first step if not you in your sphere of influence?
How many partners dared to do it despite initial rejection in their family history?
Football saved Jimmy Hartwig because he had people who trusted him.
A moving moment when Jimmy Hartwig tells:
Question to the coach “(…) why does black Hartwig play in the team there? Can you tell me?”.
Coach: “Of course, because he’s good, because he’s better than your son (…)”
Jimmy “And you hear that. (…) whoa, there’s someone who stands by you and defends you. I’ve never experienced that.”
And that’s the point. It is such moments of steadfastness that take us forward and give us hope.
When we stand by our decisions, we clear a wonderful path for others to follow us.
3. Create a stage, give space.
My appeal to companies: create spaces for genuine encounters so that we don’t reject others out of fear.
By that I mean apart from the technical execution of the work. Eg organizing events, showing interest in what moves people. To generalize and assume that the only concern minority people have is their minority characteristics is very dangerous.
Of course, it is also up to us to allow questions and curiosity.
It takes both sides for this encounter to be profitable.
A stage also creates the change of perspective.
I used to think that just because someone is from Kenya, I have more in common with that person than with someone from another country that I met here. After just one year, it became clear that this was not the case at all. If we distance ourselves from others, it also becomes difficult to move forward together.
Create spaces for such stories, no matter how sad they are, as Torsten Körner did with the documentary “Schwarze Adler”.
I always ask myself why do people find it difficult to talk about it? For fear that they will say something wrong, especially now that almost every word is weighed on gold scales?
What matters is our attitude, then we can forgive each other and learn from each other.
The fear is suddenly unfounded. We can accept others without fear of losing anything.
No, these things don’t just happen out there, in stadiums or in nursing homes. You start at the dining table and desk.
All of these 3 tools require emotional and mental maturity. Laws alone are not enough. When you know your values and are truthful about them, you become less shaky. It gets better and better with time.
Let’s not forget the story, but forgive and understand. Only when we let go can we receive the new and better. Let’s learn from such stories.
Creating a stage, that’s exactly what we do with the #OmondiLIVE platform. Together with Global Riders we build bridges. Our motto: “When we get involved, magic happens”.
Do you also create spaces for encounters?
Would you like to share your story with us today?
#courage #diversity #stories #inspire #perspective