A few years ago I worked for a political campaign. At a team meeting about neighborhood canvassing, there was a discussion on what dates and locations to visit. One of the members told me that I cannot go to a few towns because my skin color would hurt the candidate in the polls. Also, my safety was a concern. It set me back for a millisecond and reminded me that not everyone was as progressive as the candidate. It was more shocking that the person that said it to me was a young male in his 20s.
Once, I applied for a local job, and the lesser qualified applicant received the Leadership position. I was offered a non-leadership role, which was not the position I applied for or even the advertised job. Eventually, I asked a few of the board members why they felt I did not receive the position. They shared that a decision person felt my color would stop the company from getting the most exposure, funding, and other bottom-line limiting beliefs.
It's not always about color; I can tell you stories on how being a female has stopped me from being heard. I can also tell you stories when people just plain didn't like me. As I grow in experience and age, I have learned to know how to tell the difference.
All those scenarios hurt emotionally; Having a safe space to heal my thoughts is imperative for me. I have too many people who depend on my emotional stability, and my purpose and light is to keep moving forward empowering others. There is no other option for me but to heal.
It is said that diversity is having a seat at the table; inclusion is having an opportunity to speak at the table. But people forget that biases limit who is listening and what is heard. At times leaders do hear and apply their unhealthy limiting beliefs, restricting other people from reaching positions and being productive.
Good talented human beings leave communities, groups, organizations, employers, teams, and relationships of those who forget to show appreciation by recognizing others, value their thoughts and skills, and make them feel like they do belong.
When someone shares a life experience, realize two things; One, they were comfortable telling you a felt experience, Two, don't be dismissive because you have limiting beliefs of what you think to be true.
If you find yourself questioning your own belief system, be intentional with your questions to others. Ask questions with the intent to understand, grow, and build the relationship.
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