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Gerard Kersey Headshot

What Time Is It? Not CP Time

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Recently I was in a leadership/communication training class that was mandatory for employees in the company I work for. Overall this was an excellent idea and excellent information was being shared by the instructors. As the class progressed the topic became directed towards the importance of being timely and how being late is viewed as being disrespectful. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement and make sure I adhere to that with any appointments or meetings I have. So as the instructor was emphatically making this point, she stated how crucial being timely is in business and personal matters and we can never be on CP time if we want to be successful. For those who may be unaware of what CP time is, it means colored people time. I am not sure if I mentioned this, but this was an official company training, attended by employees of different races being taught by instructors of different races. I don't know what surprised me more: the fact that she said this or that it was said and not much of an uproar followed.

When I heard her say that term I immediately figured that I was mistaken and had to have heard her incorrectly. But after having this conversation with a few others who thought they heard it wrong as well, we addressed the issue. After we addressed the issue with her and she apologized, I began to think how and why that term came to be used and why we sometimes laugh at its use or have no problem with it.

The stereotypes that black people are lazy, shiftless, unintelligent, dumb, thieves, crooked, mean, nasty, terrible fathers, niggers, poor, selfish, unsupportive, etc. are rebuked by people all the time. I believe if the instructor had said any one of these stereotypes there would have been an uproar in that class. Memos would have been issued and counseling sessions would have been scheduled because people would not have accepted being called those words. However we seem to be more willing to accept the CP time label. Partly because most of us have been invited to an African American friend's party, wedding, church service or baby shower which was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. but for some reason didn't start until 5:15 p.m. Or the invitation stated 6 p..m but the event didn't start until 8 p.m. In line with that, we have been invited to a Caucasian party, and if it said to be there at 3 p.m., they started at 3 p.m. sharp. I understand that, but I still have to disagree with the usage and acceptance of the word. I have been to several African American events as well that have started and ended exactly when they said they would -- several African American events that have been operated in the highest level of excellence, so that would kill the CP time myth. I personally strive to be 15 minutes early to all meetings, events or appointments on my schedule. So it can't simply be a "colored" thing.

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Most successful people know that being on time is key especially in business. Being late is seen as being disrespectful to the others person and their time. Being late is seen as being unprepared, not ready, not trained, not polished, unwise and simply a poor habit. These are definitely characteristics that we do not want to be known by. But when we joke around and use that term or accept it, we are identifying with all those negative terms as well. Being timely is not a race issue but an individual choice that each person must make. The truth is most successful people make the choice to be on time, or to be early because they know the importance of it. If you are around people who are always late, if you go to a church that is always late or if you continue to go to events that start late you have to make a choice. Either use your influence and discipline to help those who struggle with being timely on how to be on time or gradually remove yourself from those events. The bottom line is it is not a race issue and should not be labeled CP time but it should be UP time... (unsuccessful people time!!!)