Amidst all of the Biden Administration’s debacles, in a mere eight months, let us not forget that it wasted no time in seeking to undermine and dismantle the “1776 Project,” which was designed to offer a balanced perspective on American history. Meanwhile the Administration supports the misdirected “1619 Project,” which is false history and fans the flames of racial dissonance.
Straight from the New York Times: “The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
In the midst of this wrangling, one aspect of interracial understanding and relations has long been overlooked… I was watching television, years back, in a Washington, D.C. hotel room, the night before I was scheduled to give a speech.
A news feature on a local animal shelter revealed the preferences among dog adopters. Light-colored and multi-colored dogs are popular. The darker the dog, the longer it stays in the shelter. Black dogs are the least popular and have the hardest time attracting an owner.
When selecting a pet, if black fur is the least desirable, is there an implication for a dark-skinned person in this world? Are they born to a life of inherent bias, even when others firmly seek to avoid being prejudiced? All of the anthropological and human behavior books and articles I had ever read leapt forward in my memory.
Blinded by the Night
Is it hardwired for human nature to be attracted to light and be repelled by dark? Light, white, and mild colors are traditionally equated with positive attributes, while dark often is not. Such pairings are primarily subconscious, likely persisting in the human psyche for thousands of years.
Diversity is the fate of species everywhere, not simply on earth. If life is ever discovered on distant planets, the variation in human appearances will more than likely be mirrored by wide variation in whatever species populate those celestial bodies. It’s our ongoing challenge to rise above physiological differences and even the resulting psycho-physiological variations in human behavior, outlook, and disposition. Individually and collectively, we have the ability. It is within our grasp.
As we acknowledge our ancient, inherent bias away from dark, and toward light, we must recognize that discrimination should not be attributed to skin color. What is at issue, and is seldom discussed in the mainstream media, is the effect of a person’s behavior on another person. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Author Shelby Steele has written such insightful books as White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era; The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race In America; and A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America. He eloquently argues that often, those who claim that they’re being discriminated against because of skin color, claim little or no responsibility for their behavior.
Black or white or anything else, if you attend public schools for grades 1 to 12 and learn precious little, largely because you didn’t pay attention in class, thought it was cool to goof off, didn’t see the value in conjugating a verb, felt that science was boring, or disdained learning in general, why blame others?
If you seem unable to enter the economic mainstream and land the kind of job and salary you want, who is to blame? A vanishing throng of ‘discriminatory’ employers who don’t hire you because of skin color? Or, discerning employers who don’t hire you due to your academic underachievement, which renders you as under-qualified?
Humans Discriminate Based on Behavior
Discrimination based on skin color is morally corrupt. Discrimination based on behavior is something that all human beings have done since the beginning of time and to this day, and will continue 1000+ years into the future.
It behooves each of us, daily, to do our best, to relegate skin color as non-issue, while recognizing that behavior, along with aptitude, performance, and on-the-job results are the measures most vital to employers.
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It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life
Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.
Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.
Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:
1) Self Management
Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.
2) Time Management
Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.
3) Stress Management
By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.
4) Change Management
In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.
5) Technology Management
Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.
6) Leisure Management
The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.
Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.
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Let us be free to like what we like and not have others be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits
I read a remarkable Letter to the Editor in a college newspaper, from a young black student. The point of his letter was so amazing and its insights so profound that it needs to be shared across the country for everyone, of all races.
This student wrote that, as a black male, it would inaccurate to make judgments about him without knowing him personally. He highlighted, for example, that while he likes some rap music, he much prefers traditional rock and roll, and even an occasional country song.
Is Your Bias Showing?
He wrote that if you think a black student should not like country music then your bias is showing. Why couldn’t a student, of any race or ethnicity, enjoy a particular type of music even if it’s not traditionally ascribed to his or her particular group? Who is in control here?
He likes historical novels, modern novels, biographies, and autobiographies. He was captivated by a biography about the Wright Brothers. He enjoys poetry and finds the poems from many writers to be relevant to him, from Maya Angelou to Carl Sandberg.
He suggests that there is a world of possibilities when it comes to entertainment, music, and literature. Why, he asks, must we be confined to the narrow band of choices that others, particularly within our own races and ethnicities, suggest that we adhere to? Who decides what is best for all members of a particular group? On what do they base their decisions?
Who determined that venturing outside of such restrictive limits is somehow being a traitor to one’s group? And what does it mean to even be a traitor when it comes to literature, history, music, and so on?
He pointed out in the most eloquent of terms that following the dictates of a small section of the populace and adhering to the stereotypes that prevail are extremely limiting to one’s personal freedom and an attack on one’s individuality and, potentially, creativity.
With so many experiences and possibilities that one can enjoy, he ponders, why limit yourself, especially at the age of 19, 20, or 21 to predefined, limiting confines?
No Free for All
I marveled at this young man’s wisdom which seems to transcend his years. I certainly was not as wise and perceptive myself at that age.
Over the next few days, I was eager to see if there would be any responses to his letter. Surely, he’s going to get some blowback. Someone of his own race will tell him that he needs to get “back in his lane.” Someone will tell him he’s “not acting black,” or not black enough. Somebody else will say that he’s been brainwashed, probably from an early age and he’s trying to capitulate to the predominant Caucasian culture. Someone might call him an “Uncle Tom.”
While I was monitoring the publication, actually nothing was said of his letter. I hoped maybe somebody else, or lots of somebody else’s, understood the man’s viewpoint. They could see the wisdom in his observations. I thought perhaps someone would comment in that direction, but that didn’t happen either.
Free to Choose
In the larger sense, it’s a shame that blacks and other minorities, as well as Caucasians, are supposed to act this way or that way. Hispanics are supposed to prefer this versus that. Asians are supposed to do this versus that. Why, exactly, do these illegitimate confines continue to rule the perceptions of vast numbers of our population?
Why can’t we be free to like what we like, to prefer what we prefer, and have others not be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits?
I have no knowledge of this young man and how he has fared in his studies and overall life. I surmise that whatever he’s doing, whether it’s continuing in his education, landing a job, entering the military, volunteering, traveling, or simply taking time off, he will continue to pursue his interests and remain unique.
Bound for Success
Hopefully, he’ll continue to sidestep unwarranted, prevailing norms that dictate what he can like, think, and be. May we all strive to have such personal freedom.
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