By guest blogger Sadako Red [see disclaimer]
[May 16, 2014] My goal as a senior leader, is to give the reader my thoughts on race and leadership in America and above all where I think we’re headed, perhaps good and perhaps bad. For I am an optimistic leader, the one who thinks the glass is half-full rather than half-empty. I come with a bias, one that views the world from a mere four decades of many positive experiences with people, all of it in leadership jobs where the best solution is the simplest solution. Remember this bias when you read my thoughts here. Maybe theLeaderMaker administrator will let me back if you ask for me.
We are told by our political leaders that we should be having a “conversation on race” in America. Wherever you may go, if you hear a politician talking about American problems, they will be shouting the party line on race and that “line” is “we love everyone.” Yet, every time we hear about race, it is defined for us as a racial problem … every other day we hear the New York Times headlines screaming “racism”1 and they find it in every nook and cranny.
When you read or hear about political and community leaders talking about leadership and race topics, you also hear about racism. Then we hear the solutions:
- new laws prohibiting racism
- increasing racial diversity
- engaging white leaders to listen to employees more
- understanding the effects of racism
- how to educate communities of non-whites to be more engaged
- undoing white dominant professional leadership
- proposed racial preferences in education and the work place
Race, Race, Race. That’s the mantra for this decade. The reason is pretty simple. The reason is that racism is a cause célèbre for the new generation and an extension of the 1960s for an older generation. People must have moral standing and solving racism is the solution to both their cause and psychological need for moral standing. You are now morally superior to all those “other people.” Racism will be solved only if we just attacked the problem with more effective laws and provided protection for everyone against even the slightest insult.
I will propose a human solution.
My solution doesn’t take a lot of work, or money, or new laws, or a new committee. It simply means that we need to be adults and get over it … get over the drama of racial differences. That means getting over the fact that someone may not like us or treat us poorly simply because of our race. Yeah, that means we have to have some level of tolerance for abuse. Obviously, those things prohibited by law today must be enforced and enforced vigorously in the court of law. However, it isn’t the law that will make things better since it’s each one of us in our own head that must be broadminded, patient, and accepting of the ignorance of others.
“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
There will be people who think I’m being racist by simply proposing a simple answer to a complex, difficult problem. To them my question is straightforward; have you ever tried it? The answer will be “no.” They will say it cannot work! Excuses will be given but never would they dream of attempting it because, in my humble opinion, it requires individual toughness, strength, hard work, responsibility, and maybe even a little moral courage. A law cannot be passed to make people strong or tolerant. And, herein lies the center of my argument.
You can find me on the web. Just look and find my writings on “race and leadership.”
Author: Sadako Red
Disclaimer: I chose the pen name Sadako Red in order to remove any notoriety reflecting on my other real job as a very senior executive in the Department of Defense. Naturally, my opinion is my opinion only and despite DoD wanting to associate with my fine work, they cannot have it. Trust me, they want it. Trust me, they can’t stand for it.
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