In a perfect world, we’d all see eye to eye. Despite our differences, we’d understand each other’s lived experiences, and lead with demonstrating empathy and support. We’d avoid making harsh generalizations or rash judgments, and rather than characterizing or shunning certain behaviors and stances that we didn’t understand, we would graciously accept the fact that not understanding something doesn’t make it wrong.
Being Black in a profession that requires specialized training and/or credentialing is a complex and inevitably isolating experience. Despite companies and organizations ramping up diversity efforts in recent years, the white-collar workforce is still overwhelming white. 8 out of every 10 lawyers are white; 80.8% of social scientists are white; 78.2% of education professionals are white; nearly three-quarters of business professionals are white; over 70% of healthcare professionals, engineers, and physical scientists are white. The list goes on and on.
It’s all good until people of color start coming for what has historically been explicitly reserved for white people.
As we’re all aware, we have a long, disturbing, brutal history of racism in our country. The construct of race itself was created to ensure white people would consistently benefit from the systems of our government, while guaranteeing the opposite outcome for people of color. It’s important to understand that the fight for racial justice and reconciliation didn’t begin with this idea of “leveling the playing field” that is often discussed in race relations today. Instead, it began with the desire to just be seen and treated as human. It began with the yearning to not live in a constant state of fear. It began as a fight for survival.