Diversity and Inclusion Begins at Home


Anselm Kiefer | Book With WingsI like to make fun of random American cities and states.

  • Indianapolis? Shit hole.
  • St. Louis? Arm pit.
  • New Jersey? Garbage dump of humanity.

A town like Fort Worth has a lot of money and an amazing art scene; however, the scariest place I have ever been was at the Fort Worth Water Gardens after dark. There were a bunch of white guys on BMX bikes riding around the park.

(Whether it’s Lance Armstrong or a bunch of sketchy dudes on meth, nothing good ever comes from white guys on bikes.)

But that’s America. Every place is amazing and sucks at the same time.

So it is funny how “diversity and inclusion” still rolls of the tongues of my Human Resources colleagues who are open-minded to the LGBT and minority communities but biased against certain parts of the country. Many of my east coast colleagues hate the Midwest. Many Midwestern colleagues can’t appreciate an east coast sense of humor (or lack thereof). And I was recently on the west coast where a Human Resources lady said, “I don’t travel anywhere that doesn’t have a coast.”

Oh really? You don’t travel to the heart of America where stuff gets made? How good for you. Good luck in your career never making more than $38,000/year.

America is a huge country. Our government was created to empower municipalities to solve problems at a local level. If you are responsible and accountable to your neighbors, you don’t need a king (or the Congress) to swoop in and tell you how to live your life.

But it’s now 2013 and people “migrate” to search for employment, new opportunities and better weather. (Or all of the above.) For some people, it is a big mental jump to move from a city to a suburb. For others, it is a huge jump to move from the north to the south. And wherever we go, there we are. Many of us cling to our notion of what is right and what is wrong. Instead of moving forward, we try to relive our past experiences in the present tense.

I know that I don’t go a week in Raleigh where some New York transplant tells me, “You can’t get a good bagel in this town.”

My response has often been, “Maybe you should go back to New York.”

But that’s not right. Or fair. Or even compassionate. So my new response has been, “Maybe you should fix that and open up a bagel shop.”

We can’t even begin to practice diversity and inclusion at work until we flex and bend with the new stuff at home — and bring a little bit of ourselves with us no matter where we go.

So these transplants are right. Raleigh could use a good bagel shop. And I could show more compassion, myself, and ease up on some of these shit hole places in America.

I’m looking at you, Ohio.

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