By: Priya Khajuria – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Being bonked around by sweaty metalheads (myself included), beer sloshing out of plastic cups — that can be a hella lot more fun than sitting around in a boardroom.
But if you’re wondering if I’m about to launch into a rant about how boring meetings are.
Or what a waste of time most of them seem to be.
What I’m about to bring up is something a little different…
See, I’m brown.
I’ve never particularly thought of myself as brown since I was born and brought up in the West.
But I realized that others see me first as brown. Which means that for the most part, people see each other for who we are on the surface first.
Here in the West, I’ve worked for several decades in “a regular day job” in the workforce.
The first thing I noticed in meetings, was that whomever was speaking at the time — in most places I worked — made eye contact with everyone except me.
My voice wasn’t a whisper.
I didn’t have useless ideas.
But in those boardrooms, I was invisible.
It’s not that I had nothing to contribute. To the contrary — and to my fury — the ideas I brought up in those meetings time after time were met with little to no reaction. They talked over me, interrupted and continued conversing with each other. And when my suggestion was brought up later in the meeting by someone else as THEIR OWN, it got “ze rave reviews”.
It took a while before I noticed and realized that I was the only person of colour in there.
And as the years went by, I found out through accidental conversations that there were many others who felt the same way.
We did not fit the majority in that room. And therefore we became, by default, invisible or second class.
It boiled down to this:
In a boardroom filled with one or more males, the females received little to no attention.
In a boardroom with mostly white people and regardless of gender, the people of colour seemed to fade into the background (not from choice).
The people of colour were the “audience.”
Could this be a generality?
Could I be oversensitive about it?
Could it be in my imagination?
After hundreds of conversations and years of work experience, combined with a pretty open mind — I know what I saw and felt and noticed.
In a mosh pit, even if I was normally the ONLY person of colour in the entire event — there was great good natured joshing, smiling, laughing, and general politeness over all the boisterousness. I was part of a big party, I was seen. Many of us there felt like misfits in our own way compared to mainstream culture, regardless of our colour, gender or background. And therefore, we all connected.
Maybe a huge overgeneralization, but it is what it is.
But in the workforce, there is very much a system of levels and hierarchies.
I could make more observations, but if you’re a thoughtful person like I think you are (aka you’re still reading this without gnashing your teeth at my impertinence), then perhaps think through the scenarios you’ve experienced.
Here are my thoughts on this…
If you’re white and have an office job:
Look your visible minority co-workers in the eye when you speak with them. Start your emails with Hi “our name”, and thank us when you ask for something. Don’t send us an email with “name” and a boring order. Take the 2 minutes.
When you’re in a meeting, look around the boardroom…
We don’t want to be “different,” we just are who we are. And we’re also part of the team just as much as you.
Is one of your colleagues there gay, trans? Look them in the eye when you talk.
Is one of your colleagues there First Nations? Brown, black, yellow, any other colour than white? Look them in the eye when you’re talking and conversing around the table. Hold their gaze.
Know that including them with honour and with attention, honours yourself.
We know you want to include. Do it with your eyes, your voice, your words, your energy.
You have a place of privilege. Use your power and presence with love.
If you consider yourself any kind of minority:
Bring out your voice.
Share your ideas freely. With strength. Know that you shine again for a larger group. For all of us who are “different”.
Speak up and know that your voice will be heard, but you HAVE to speak regardless.
Even when no one seems to be listening.
Even when it feels like you’re invisible.
You. Are. BORN to live your life with colour!
You are HERE to teach the world how to connect with each other from your life experiences.
And we, from all minorities, embrace your ideas that expand our world with grace and forward-thinking.
The privileged and the minorities…this is how we work together, we grow together.
This is how we expand our world.
More by Priya:
Priya’s passion is to empower fellow LOA lovers to create and enjoy the life they desire by sharing powerful and practical Law of Attraction techniques, sprinkled with a little magic. She is also the creator of The Prosperity Game SuperKit and the Magical Life program.
Facebook tag: Priya Khajuria
Website: Joyful Life Mastery: www.joyfullifemastery.com
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