America was brown before it was white. This is America's truth. You either embrace this fact or you challenge it.
These two positions are contributing to the current situation: a divided America. And actually, during the past election that division became a chasm. A giant, ugly, gaping, seeping chasm of fear and defensiveness.
In fact, 2012 has been called out as the "year of the gap." The San Francisco Chronicle Politics blog shared the following election demographic statistics:
• There was the gender gap. Women favored Obama, 55 percent to 44 percent, while men chose Romney by 52 percent to 45 percent. Mothers were more likely to support Obama (56 percent to 43 percent), while fathers sided with Romney (53 percent to 45 percent).
• Then there was a yawning generation gap. Voters under the age of 30 were strongly pro-Obama, 59 percent to 37 percent, while voters 65 and older favored Romney by 57 percent to 43 percent.
• Finally, there was the race gap. The Democratic incumbent led among African Americans by 93 percent to 7 percent -- the best performance by a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Latino voters, energized by tough Republican rhetoric on immigration, voted Democratic by 69 percent to 30 percent, tipping the balance of power in a string of states including Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado.
As an African American woman from the Deep South who lived through desegregation, never do I remember an election as divisive and downright mean as this year's. Granted, Facebook, Twitter and the like provide a whole new avenue for people to spout hate and more hate in a cowardly "hide behind my virtual world" kind of way.
But enough is enough, folks. Our future and our children's future is at stake here.
What will it take for us to come together? What will it take for us to get beyond the bias of "my way is the only way?" How do we go about bridging "the gaps?" We must realize that our country is in a vulnerable position if we don't learn how to embrace each other -- and embrace the change that has already happened and continues to happen.
The way forward is quite simple to state, but-oh-so-difficult for many of us to walk out. But walk it out we must. The way forward is simply understanding and embracing change. Embracing someone different from you. Celebrating someone different from you. Each of us must learn to embrace change as an opportunity to create a new and better America.
This divide is not only occurring in society but also in the halls of corporate America. As the workforce has changed and become more diverse, a fear has developed among white men. They perceive that they are losing their power. And they blame that perceived loss of power on affirmative action, on people of color, on women, and on and on. But that perception is not reality.
The reality is that America was brown before it was white. The reality is that our country has been changing since the beginning of time and that will continue happening. The reality is that...
1. Our country was founded on principles that are rooted in true consideration of and for each other. As Abraham Lincoln so eloquently stated in the Gettysburg Address, "...of the people, by the people, for the people..." Not just a select segment of the population.
2. If we do not change our mindset, our country will die and corporate America will become less competitive and ultimately irrelevant.
3. We need to let go of the spirit of fear and maximize the spirit of hope.
4. We must believe in the power of diversity.
5. We need to learn how to collaborate -- and I mean REALLY learn how to collaborate -- the right way.
In a November 30, 2012, article by Dorie Clark on Forbes.com entitled, Why Kickstarter and TEDx are the Future of Business, Clark shares the WHY. Why corporate America -- and really ALL of America -- must adapt to the change that has occurred. In that article, Nilofer Merchant, author of one of Forbes' Best Business Books of 2012, 11 Rules For Creating Value in the Social Era, shares,
"The old bromides -- 'the 800 lb. gorilla way, that size matters, you rule over others, and people are subservient to organizations' -- no longer work... the 21st century is about working with others. There's a notion that individuals can come together and create value, create scale. Each of us as an individual recognizes the value we bring: I'm not a cog in a machine..."
We are not a cog in the machine of America. Black, brown or white, woman or man, young or old, we all bring value and we all must all change our mindset, embrace the TRUTH, let go of our fear and come together in order to make America great again.
So how do we do that?
1. Be honest with yourself about your feelings. It is perfectly normal to experience fear as a result of change. What none of us can afford to do is to allow the fear to stop us from having hope for the future (and thus from finding a way to make things work). This is the only way to turn fear into faith!
2. Stop fighting the change that is happening in America. Accept the diversity, and then turn it into an opportunity. Let go of the scarcity mentality. White men, you aren't going anywhere. You still have a tremendous amount of power and will continue having it into the foreseeable future.
3. Embrace your own multiculturalism. (Newsflash! We are all multicultural. America was founded on immigrants.)
4. Connect yourself to the greater good. United we stand, divided we fall. You've got to figure out what it is in it for you, but balance that with the reality that our country needs all of us to get aligned.
5. Become curious about other cultures. There is more than one way. More than just "the American way." We are a part of the global society rich in different cultures.
I thought it appropriate to end with the words of President Abraham Lincoln.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
President Abraham Lincoln
The Gettysburg Address
November 19, 1863