In a time of political, religious and racial angst, it is clear that there are large numbers of activists that are vocal about their perceived inequalities.
The thing is, we are not the same! However we do all share commonality. We are all residents of this universe, we belong to the human race and most of us live on earth. Past that we are all unique one off’s!
Over the years I have been on the receiving end of prejudice. Prejudice against my race, sex, age, religion, job, economic status etc. and I’m sure many other things besides, which I’m not even aware of. So when I was talking with a friend over the weekend about ‘Equality in the workplace’, it got me thinking.
Where do our prejudices come from?
We tend to have our prejudices because of various reasons: our upbringing and conditioning. We then base our opinions and judgments on what we’ve experienced. This all effects how we see the world and what behaviours and events we notice. We then interpret them in such a way as it confirms our perspective and we are more ‘blind’ to the other perspectives…unless we stay awake and open!
In my friends’ workplace, the desire and culture is for total equality. This as the first step is nigh on impossible. There needs to be stepping stones to create a culture of respect and acceptance of the inevitable diversity any group of humans will present.
EKWAL is a process to help groups come together in the spirit of equality, whilst understanding better our own uniqueness and our group offering.
E – Explore
Explore what the actual prejudices are or could be…. a big bosomed blond lady may evoke certain beliefs and expectations different to a young lithe well dressed pretty woman, different again to a large tall black handsome man, different again to an effeminate petite white man in jeans, piercings with tattoos.
By getting real and honest with what an image evokes in you, we can begin to take steps towards working together.
K – Know
Know where the roots of the perception come from. Initially it could be that you have experience of someone else who had the same qualities that you formed an opinion about. It could also be a conditioned way of thinking from your family, religion, culture, society and community. Cultural ‘dogma’ about that look or action can be very powerful!
Now delve even deeper. Historically where does the perception come from? Blacks were enslaved, big bosomed ladies of the night, tattooed prisoners and sailors and sailor’s whores.
The historical hierarchy of wars and civilisations has been passed down through the generations. The perception of tribes being barbaric and needing to be ‘civilised’ by arrogant groups who wanted the land and resources that they had and promptly attached and killed the uncivilised communities! You see and hear the irony in that history.
The other thing to consider is that there are indeed certain body types and mind types that are more easily skilled at certain tasks, i.e. Long distance runners, short fast dynamic sprinters, swimmers, divers, logical, strategic, linguistic conundrums.
We get challenged when we have a representation of what ‘normal’ is and use that as what we expect in a dogmatic way. Let’s face it, none of us are normal! And most of us use our own measures, values and beliefs as ‘the norm’! There is no such thing as normal!!! There are expectations and perceptions in specific communities of people-but no normal, so….
W – Work on finding the commonality
Finding the commonality enables you to notice where there are complimentary skills. It allows different personalities to find the common purpose and shared desires so standing on the common ground together. Get curious about how you can work and live together to optimise the relationship.
A – Acknowledge and Accept
Acknowledge and accept that you are unique and different from others, therefore others will inevitably be different from you. You may have parts of you that overlap and are similar and you will have many parts of you that don’t…and that is ok and good. If you are white or black, you are white or black, it is just a skin colour of which there are thousands of different shades. If you are a man you have a specific chromosome combination XY, a woman is XX. (Yet 1 in every 1666 born is neither!*) This determines your sexual organs not how you choose to use your body.
In my own experience and observations, most people are happy enough to accept others the way they are providing that any differences or preferences are not forced on to each other.
L – Lift the Label
Lift the label and Lighten up around labels. What has gone on before now cannot be changed. Our attitudes and dogmatic thinking and beliefs can though. You have the power now to see things differently, to do things differently and to behave in a manor that accepts and respects the differences. We are who we are! We are the shape and colour that we are. We can influence certain parts of us with dyes, eating, exercise and clothing, but it is all just superficial.
In this perceived 1st world, working environment, let’s work on creating an EKWAL space filled with a group of unique individuals working to a common goal.
• Explore the prejudices
• Know the root causes
• Work the middle ground
• Acknowledge & Accept uniqueness
• Lift the labels and Lighten up
*Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female: 1 in 100 births www.isna.org/faq/frequency The Intersex Society of North America 1 in 100 births