Thursday, 10 February 2022
It’s been some time since I have had the urge to pick up my pen (so to speak) and write either on the book itself or an update to all of the wonderful people who have already chosen to support Mind the Inclusion Gap. I definitely haven’t had the energy to reach out to anyone new or to engage in social media – that requires too much vulnerability, and my vulnerability has been used up elsewhere.
In mid-January, my father lost his battle with cancer. It was the first time in a very long time that my brothers actually needed me, and I am so thankful that I could be there for both of them. Shortly after my father died, my mom caught COVID and ended up in hospital. There are few words to describe the challenge January brought to my life. But there are silver linings in even the most challenging moments of our lives. Life lived 4.9k miles apart is never easy, but sometimes a family crisis is just what you need to bring you all back to the important stuff, and for that I am grateful.
I’ve been home in England for almost three weeks and every time I tried to write my heart simply wasn’t in it. Sometimes I was too emotional. But mostly, I was without emotion. It was only yesterday, when I interviewed an old friend for the book that I found the energy and the momentum I’ve been searching for.
Rob worked for the same organisation for more than 30 years. He’s funny and kind, calm and considerate and always willing to work together to find a solution. He comes to the table with relentless energy. He’s also a Black man, born in the UK of two Jamaican Windrush immigrants. During our interview we talked about many things, but what struck me most was our conversation about second chances.
“Keep your head down. You will see some form of this messaging in all families. Even white families say this. The difference is, you hardly ever get a second chance if you’re Black. The stain and the error sticks to you. If you don’t make it and you’re white, more often than not, you get another roll of the dice. For someone like me, there is no second try. No reset. Multiple attempts to offer your best is not afforded if you’re Black or brown.”
It’s only in the last few years that I’ve been able to spot systemic forms of racism and sexism. I used to look for ‘isms in very visible, very ugly, and very noticeable forms. Now I know they also thrive in much more subtle places. You are most likely to find them when you look for the absence of positivity. They live in the moments when someone is given the ‘okay’ rating instead of the ‘top’ rating, when they a ‘good enough’ candidate, but not the ‘best’ candidate. Second chances are rare. They are even rarer when you’re different.
There will be many people who don’t deserve the second chance, or the top rating, or the job. But if we all are a bit more skillful at understanding how often we dish out our positivity, and in turn, our opportunities, to people who are different than ourselves, we stand a better chance of reducing the inequality.