Holding my oldest daughter for the first time, a nagging thought began to amplify. A transition occurred for me at her birth and intensifies with the birth of my second daughter. Their gentle eyes peer into my heart, stoking a passion and a hope for their future. As I watch them grow, a thought wreaks havoc in my mind, “the world is not ready”. The liberties of women and minorities are still too dim.
I’m inspired by stories of Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Malala Yousafzai. Reading their stories to the girls at bedtime, I find myself in tears. Captivated by the courage and resolve of such empowered women. Born into an era that wasn’t ready for them, they chose a path of tremendous sacrifice in order to prepare the world for those who would follow.
In recent years, I’ve embarked on a journey to deepen my empathy for the under-represented. While I’m still trying to understand ‘my place’ in the conversation, it’s woven it’s way into every facet of my life.
Life in the Majority
As a bearded, white man in technology, I am the majority. I fit the stereotype perfectly. On mere appearance, clients and prospects are more likely to trust what I have to say. I trigger the positive unconscious biases they have in their mind. Combine that with a clean haircut, warm smile, and well-rehearsed demeanor. It is all wind at my back.
I’m not complaining, it’s nice. Really nice.
Unfortunately, this dichotomy is where the tension rests. In ways I can’t even imagine, I benefit from the authority, credibility, and power of a misaligned culture. Those for whom I care most deeply, reside on the other side of the chasm. Rather than renounce my status, perhaps there is greater impact in leveraging it.
On the journey of discovering my place, there is so much I don’t know. I’m continually uncovering assumptions and expectations that represent a skewed world view. Rather than defending them, I’m cutting deeper to remove the decay and detritus of superiority and privilege. Like the insecurity of a novice among experts, I find myself unsettled and unnerved. This realization fuels empathy, as I imagine my momentary discomfort paling in comparison to the life-sentence others endure.
My motives are not selfless. I want to expand my network, enrich my perspective, and exist in a more loving world. As a father, my daughters should be free to explore their passions and aspirations without impediment. As a creator, diversity is foundational to understanding problems and designing better solutions. As a human, a brighter future is one in which an individual’s contributions, not their differences, are what is championed.
In hindsight, it seems insensitive that my interest was only ignited recently by having daughters. Your right, it is. Fortunately, I’m here now and need help catching up to where I could have been all along.