Arrrgghh!!… Makes you wanna holla, throw up both your hands!
I decided to interview myself. Why? Because I wanted to provide a glimpse into my thinking on contemporary issues and what drives a lot of what I think and write about.
Additionally, I figured that it would be nice to pose some of the questions that many want to ask but, for a myriad of reasons, don’t dare; the type of questions they mutter to themselves “when nobody’s looking.” Some of those questions I’ve been able to decipher through oftentimes scripted conversations, others are questions that came to me directly; all from good, fair-minded folks who genuinely are interested in knowing.
Now a fair warning here: some of you may want to have your medication nearby since my answers to some of the questions may raise your blood pressure. So read at your own risk, okay?
Q: What have you been reading lately?
A: Every newspaper I can get my hands on. I usually go straight to the Opinions page and then the Sports section.
Books? Well I just competed Al Sharpton’s “The Rejected Stone” and before that “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” by The New York Times’ Charles Blow. I’m now in the process of devouring “Compelling People,” by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut. These are books I highly recommend.
Q: Interesting that you recommend anything by Al Sharpton. There are many who feel that he’s the ultimate “race baiter” who never misses an opportunity to play the “race card.” What do you think?
A: I yell out “Arrrrggghh!” and bang my head against a wall every time I hear that about anyone who dares to talk frankly about race. Plus, I strongly reject any notion that talking about race amounts to “playing the race card.” That’s silly and is used to short circuit meaningful – and badly needed – conversations about race.
Now related to this, I recently had an interesting exchange with a gentleman who dubbed Sharpton – and even President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder – as “race baiters,” as players of the so-called “race card.” When I asked if he says that to describe those who shout racist invectives toward the President and others – you’ve heard them, “boy,” “from the ghetto,” “not one of us,” etc. – or if “race baiters” are only reserved for visible black folks, he told me that those who do that are not “race baiters,” per se, but “crusaders.”
Hey, go figure folks!
Q; Besides doing a lot of reading and writing articles, what else are you involved in these days?
A: I recently joined a group, Americans for Economic Equity, a group consisting of CEOs, business owners, lawyers and other professionals who share a passion for ensuring that all segments of society, African-Americans in particular, have access to economic opportunities. What really drew me to this group, among other reasons, is their willingness to try to make an impact as a group in procurement processes and individually.
Q: I can see a group having power but what can people do as individuals?
A: An example that comes to mind is the experience of one of our members, a medical doctor. He shared that when he approached the Korean-owned cleaners he’s been using for many years about purchasing a small ad for a church publication, they said no and refused to entertain the thought any further. Well, he took his business to another cleaners even though it was further from his home and encouraged others to avoid that cleaners.
Here’s another example.
I along with several relatives recently attended a jam-packed basketball tournament at a local university where the overwhelming majority of players and those in attendance were African-American. Between us, including parking, game tickets, programs and food, we probably spent close to $200 for the event. However, it turns out that 100% of those working in the concession stands were not people of color. Now given that the unemployment rate for African-American teens hovers well above 30%, I thought it only fair that some of those positions should have been held them. The next day I emailed the university calling this concern to their attention. That was almost a week ago and I’m still waiting for a response.
So, at the end of the day, will small individual actions like these make a difference? Yes, I think so, but only if others take it upon themselves to take individual actions. It’s like a small pebble you toss into a pond; once it hits the surface, it causes ripples across the water.
Q: Hum, interesting. Some might conclude that what you’re proposing by encouraging people to support only those enterprises that reflect their racial background is racist. What do you say to them?
A: There’s a difference between being “racist” and “racial.” Thus, what I’m proposing is racial, not racist. The truth is that we’re all racial in some ways, and that does not make us necessarily racist. However when one moves from being racial, an attitude, to behaving in a manner that discriminates again someone because of his/her race, that to me cross the line to racism, a behavior.
There’s little disagreement that there’s so much going on in the world today. What really concerns you the most?
A: Seems to me that there’s an uptick in the levels of incivility these days and you don’t have to search far for examples. Just listen to the vitriol spewed by politicians and how the “gotcha” media tends to play on peoples’ ignorance and fears. From what I’ve been observing, especially in the media, there seems to be a lot of outrage out there frantically looking for an offense, any offense, no matter how trivial. However, I’m comforted by the fact that most people are intelligent enough to see through all this stuff and think for themselves.
And while we’re at it, just look at all the stuff that people put out in social media. I’m often left shaking my head when people write stupid things – think cyberbullying profanity, etc. – and the words they use to lambast others who put forth views different from theirs. I’m thankful for the ability to hit “unfriend” or “hide,” respectively, to rid myself of stuff or people I’d rather not see or hear from.
Q: Before we sign off, anything else you’d like to say?
A: Oh yeah, and totally unrelated to everything I’ve said so far, a growing frustration for me, and I’m sure for many others, it is the password “feeding frenzy” that seems to be chocking the life out of productivity nowadays. I have so many passwords that I just can’t keep up with them. An example of this madness was my recent attempts to transfer funds to my son’s bank in Singapore and a request for duplicate automobile insurance cards. In each instance, I was instructed to step through a series of prompts to, yes, you guessed it, set up a password.
In the words of the late Marvin Gaye, “It makes you wanna holler, throw up both your hands.”
© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, trainer, corporate story-teller and senior associate with Diversity Wealth based in Douglasville, GA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org