I decided to do a five-part series. That’s all about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging strategies. I’ve heard from my clients and audience members asking for some quick tidbit strategies you can do today. And I will start with our first one right out of the box, you all. So you know, the adage of first impressions is the most lasting. We always strive to put our best selves forward. When we develop criteria for highlighting our commitment to diversity, you see that in many companies right now you see that?
In marketing, you see that everywhere. And even as neighbors, we’re trying to, you know, show what we know, in a way. And I want to share that when you make that first impression, no matter where you are, at work or school, many of us fall back into our usual questions. Hi, I’m Jebeh. “What’s your name?” And then, when we say, “Where are you from?” You might be thinking, Okay, Jeb, yes, we’ve been in America; I’ve been here for a long time. That’s just what we do.
How is that not being inclusive? Now, if you’re somebody like me, right? I know I have an ethnic name and I am very proud of my name and heritage. But when somebody gets to know me for the first time, they go, “Oh, where are you from?” “That’s a different name,” then I would say Yes, I’m originally from Liberia but live in northern Minnesota. But only a few people want to share that part of themselves. And when I say it that way, I mean when you ask somebody of BIPOC heritage the question, “Where are you from?” They may be local, and even though I look like I’m from a different cultural group than you doesn’t mean I wasn’t born and raised in this area.
And so this wonderful author, writer, social justice, Guru, anti-racist, cultural competency, amazing Taiye Selasi who has an incredible TED Talk. And I’ve used her TED Talk in lots of my training. But she has a twist on this adage, the question of Where are you from? She says we must turn it in; “Where are you, a local?” So next time you encounter somebody you want to get to know either at work, either as a neighbor, or out on the baseball field, that’s where I’m going to be most about summer because my son loves baseball and playing.
When I meet somebody, instead of asking the question, where are you from? They may say, “Oh, I’m a local Duluthian,”.or I’m a local fill-in-the-blank. It opens up to where that person you’re asking that question feels that they can share part of themselves with you in a way that’s open-ended and not interrogated. And it just makes everyone have those cross-cultural connections that we all want. So I cannot stress this enough to switch that old question from where you are from to where you are local, and you’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll receive.
If you want to learn more about diversity and equity inclusion strategies, I’ve created a digital course that is only four weeks long, curated explicitly for busy professionals like yourself. This course will empower you to recognize your own unconscious biases, helping you have more cross-cultural connections that don’t feel interrogated, and it’ll also help you combat microaggressions and create a culture of inclusivity with you and your team. And yes, we’ll cover tons of stuff, so be sure to check out how you can enroll in my course, How to be a Culturally Competent Leader.