You Are A Woman, Deal With It, You Are Black, Deal With It!
As a Black Man, living in a White World, I am getting tired of how we focus on not being represented enough. It is blinding our ability to recognise where we have made progress, and while that pace may not be as quick as we would like it to be, we would be stronger if we focused on where we are winning rather than stuck like a scratched record. This behaviour also comes across when I see how women approach the gender inequality issue. This is not a South African phenomenon, it is a global problem. We need to build from our wins, not complain without taking action.
The recent filing for the facebook IPO came with a nasty surprise for Mark Zuckerberg I am sure, given the uproar about the Board Of Directors of facebook lacking diversity. Not even the mighty Sheryl Sandberg, who has been COO since 2008 cracked the nod! This is America, the land of the free! The irony is that in 2010, Sheryl Sandberg gave a powerful TED Talk, highlighting the problem that women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world!
More close to home, I was at the Lion Of Africa Budget Breakfast where our Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan had centre stage a day after delivering his budget speech to the nation. The breakfast was being broadcast live, and Vuyo Mbuli, asked The Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People With Disabilities (yes there is such a portfolio in our Cabinet) for her opinion on what was presented through the budget speech, and she expressed dissatisfaction that the budget did not allocate spend strictly for the empowerment of women. This I did not see coming considering the budget speech was well received across the country and considering the tough economic times globally, it really displays a bold balancing act.
We live in a world where there is gender inequality. We live in a world where there is race inequality. We need to stop looking to the Pale White Male to liberate us as it is not up to him to empower us with gender equality or race equality. We need to stop focusing on begging to be empowered and start focusing on the actions we take to empower ourselves that are effective, creating equal opportunities going forward. We can’t all own the economy, but we can all take ownership of our economy. We don’t need the White male to tell us that we are worth something, so stop seeking his approval!
For me, what you focus on expands, and I have chosen to focus on the improvements I am seeing. What are you doing to help yourself up in order to succeed in your career, and what are you doing to give a hand up to Women and Black people that are within your reach? This is work in progress, and you are responsible for creating the world you want, so stop asking for permission to get it!
It is idealistic to look to be equal to White males in status today! You would literally need a magic wand that will erase the past, strip every one of their material gains and redistribute those material gains equally across the board. We will only be equal, when we believe we have just as good a chance to achieve our desires, regardless of your gender or colour. So what do you believe about this world you live in? What do you believe you can create? What are you willing to pay to get it? Don’t sit there and be a victim who will always talk about what could have been, stand up and back yourself to achieve what you can be!
The image in this post was borrowed from http://www.ghanapaper.com/