Diversity requires a level of mindfulness that involves consideration for people who do not meet your norms. It is a game of give and take, consideration, and tolerance. In my community it is pretty normal to say someone is 'crazy' or 'insane' if they are able to make you laugh your ass off. When I was approached about using the term, I was mortified and defensive " what do you mean? Im not trying to offend anyone, it's just the way I speak"
Here lies the dilemma and the lesson. My norm is irrelevant now, it is not a justification, and it is not an excuse. To a person who is impacted with a serious mental health condition, that sounds soooo offensive and personal to them, it hurts and it is triggering and upsetting. Any defence of my stance, defending my norm, my justification of language habits, are ALL IRRELEVANT! The outcome of my behaviour is that someone was hurt - The End. It becomes my responsibility to make an effort to break this habit based on the offence it may cause whether I realise it or not. It becomes my responsibility to be mindful, not to expect that person or others to learn to 'suck it up because that's just how it is'. Its not for me to take issue with the fact I was called out for it, the person was simply trying to remove a trigger which affects them. So if 50 black people are on zoom, who have a standard and natural response of saying "your crazy" is it down to the 50 people to adjust their language and be mindful? Or should that sole person with the mental health problem, just accept that is how it is, and how we speak, it's not going to change overnight, it will take time to adjust, suck it up until they can learn to change. I am deadly serious, which is it?
Lets say there are 15 black males on zoom and one white woman, just ONE! One black male mentions an incident with police, the room errupts into stories of racial injustices on black men by white police. The white lady starts to squirm and feel really uncomfortable about the subject matter, she herself starts to have feelings of guilt and responsibility. It isn't imposed on her by anyone in the room, no one is directing anything to her, they are simply 'sharing their personal experience', it's their right to do that, isn't it? Ok so you tell me, who is supposed to get checked in this situation? The white lady or the group? Who has the responsibility to be mindful here? Change the group to 15 asian women and one white male. He makes a comment about life at home with his asian wife and mixed race kids. Suddenly, all the women start making little jokes in their native tongue, all in good faith, if there was a translator there would be no offence at all in the words. But the white male starts to get paranoid, "why cant they just speak in English so we can all share the joke?" he wonders. The women feel refreshed to be able to use their language for a change, at work they are in zooms with all white people, so it makes a nice change to be related to and understood. So again, who do we check? Is it his responsibility to learn the language from his wife so they can speak and enjoy their culture without prejudice? Or should they be mindful that it may make him uncomfortable, so the whole group should never speak in their language when any non asians are in the room?
If someone is a Christian, who believes god made Adam and Eve, but for work purposes this person is thrust into a zoom room where everyone is LGBTQ. They had to fight to be acknowledge and be part of the norm, and this is how it is now, no more hiding, no more shame, free to just 'be'. The Christian sees a screen full of this community. Everyone is warm, friendly, welcoming, so why does the Christian still feel uncomfortable? whose fault is that? The groups fault? How, haven't they been warm and welcoming? Should the Christian put their years of Christian conditioning to the side so not to offend? Can they abandon the mindset of their faith for the duration of the zoom? Should they be expected to?
Sometime empathy is the only way to make people understand. Because majority white zooms are standard in an industry with zero or dotted minorites, they never have to consider the situation in reverse. No white person would look forward to a zoom full of black males talking about police harassment. No white person would feel comfortable in an asian group making jokes in thier language that they don't understand. I am tired of being in all white zooms as the only black person and feeling guilty when something upsets me and no one even notices. So if your the only one and your bound by an NDA, who do you speak to when you feel like this? How long is this going to go on for? How many times will it happen, in a month? How do you even express your pain to even get support? What happens when people get defensive just because your upset? Oh so its my fault? I'm a drama queen? Angry black woman, aggressive? got issues? whats my problem? have I not worked around white people before?
Of course I have, my whole life, in a range of exciting industries - but baby this is cannabis, and an entire race of the most associated people are absent. I am the only person who sees things how I do, who feels how I feel, who knows what I know. So whose responsibility is it to check themselves or to be mindful of the circumstances and the effects it may have? What am I supposed to do with "but that's just how it is for now?"
Which comes first the egg or the chicken? Why am I expected to have all the answers? So am I always gonna be the bad guy because of the physiological traumas of growing up as a minority negatively associated with cannabis my entire life? Whose fault is that mine? Yours? So who then? So now that it is 'White & Right' where the hell does that leave me and people like me? Why are black people not here already? If I wasn't here, how long would this have carried on for? How is a black male going to feel? He is the poster child of cannabis, especially the rasta man. I truly believe now that it is that 'Rasta Association' that makes all of this seem so foul at times. It feels as if the industry is trying to pretend it was never like that, its a white wash which to me feels as blatant as the blue eyed blonde haired Jesus.
Why does it feel like I am the only person considering what more awareness is going to bring? Ahh, its because I am the only minority. I feel that ignorance is playing a very dangerous game and I guess I just feel scared for everybody, because unless things change its going to be carnage out here. There seems to be no clue about feelings on the grassroots level, and a delusion that minorities (or even worse, all of the criminals of all colours and creeds!) are going to allow white middle class males to exclude them and run a legal racket selling bud while they continue to be harrassed for it, and that underestimation gives me anxiety.
To conclude what I am saying is everyone is going to have to play their part - but to me? If I am honest now, all I see is egg and chicken - the egg hatches a chicken and a chicken lays an egg, so which one needs to happen FIRST? It seems Ill never be short of Saturdays 'Tales From the Fence' - still hurting my soul, still giving me splinters, and I definitely hate it here, its lonely!
Until Next time x