WOW!!! There is a lot going on in the world all at once. This post is tough for me on a lot of levels….so bear with me.
As many of you know, I am lucky enough to travel frequently, with a large portion of my travel being international. Before traveling to a different country, I’ve gotten into the habit of reading up on my destination. This extra step helps give me a better understanding of the country’s food, their society and culture, so I have an idea of what to expect as to not offend anyone. Despite doing this research, sometimes I do accidentally offend someone, though my intent is never malicious and I never mean to be disrespectful.
My parents were refugees at a very young age, during the time where India and Pakistan separated into two nations. They saw and experienced the Hindu and Muslim riots and the racism that was prevalent in that part of the world back then. I had lived on three continents before I was a teenager. I was born on the Canary Islands, a part of Spain, and then moved to India before moving to the United States. I was one of a handful of minorities at the high school I attended, and some of the students made fun of me (teenage years can be brutal). Later in my twenties, I was told to go back to where I came from because I was ruining this country; I assumed that person was mad at me because we outsourced his job ?
I am Indian by descent, but I have been confused of being many different races. For instance, when one of my best friends and I go out people often mistake us as brothers. Though he is not Indian, I do consider him to be my brother from another mother. Whenever I travel to Mexico, the locals see me and speak Spanish to me, assuming I am of Mexican descent like them. I mention all of this to say that I blend, I guess I am a citizen of the world!
Recently, I began seeing many Black Lives Matter signs. They have always been there but now they are everywhere. It confused me, as I was raised to be compassionate and kind towards everyone; what was I missing? I started asking questions. The explanations I received left me unsatisfied and I still was not clear. So, I did what I usually do: I read up on it and had additional conversations about it with people whose opinion I value, people of all races. Now I understand, or I’m at least beginning to.
There is a lot of anger and frustration out there today and rightfully so, given the latest circumstances and conditions. The other morning I saw a news segment by former NFL star Emmanuel Acho discussing the conversations that he is having. He explained that many of these conversations are and will be uncomfortable, and they should be. These conversations will be difficult because at some level we don’t understand and on another level, we don’t know how they will be perceived, but it is important to have them. That unknown is scary but discomfort is good, lean into it.
I don’t have the answers and I don’t claim to in this instant, but I’m okay with that. That’s tough for me to confess because as a leader I am looked to for answers, however this is a complex issue with many facets and points of views. The best I can do is understand, learn, explain, and be open minded when having these uncomfortable conversations and take action. At the end of the day, I was raised to be kind and compassionate towards everyone and I will continue to do so.
“An open mind allows you to explore and create and grow. Remember that progress would be impossible if we always did things the way we always have.” – Wayne Dyer