What does it mean to ignore race and gender discrimination in 2013? It spells DISASTER. Whether it is an extensive policy debate on equal pay for women, or if a woman can win NASCAR or the decision for patients to select the nurse of their racial preference —there is a present and pressing need to study the complex issues of race and gender discrimination in this country.
Hard times follow the man or woman who believes that forgiveness will come easily when their words are mistaken or misspoken. Today, any leader in the public, private or non-profit sectors who doesn’t embrace and act affirmatively to acknowledge our diversity and our multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi ethnic, socio-economic, sexual, immigrant and political preference of Americans does so at great peril to himself, his organization, or her cause. Thank goodness I have lived to witness such a time.
My attitudes about embracing differences were greatly enhanced by the religious teachings of my youth by my hometown minister, Reverend Jesse Anderson Sr. He helped me to understand the legacies of the Church founders Richard Allen and Absalom Jones and the mentorship provided to me by the Honorable Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson, I have listened to great Atlanta leaders like Rev. Barbara King, Rabbi Sugarman, Imam Plemon El Amin, Rev. Tim McDonald and legendary leaders Rev. Joseph Lowery, Rep. Grace Hamilton, Ralph McGill, Mayor Ivan Allen, Rev. Cameron Alexander and Rev. CT Vivian.
The issue of race, gender, and even class discrimination warrant contemplative and complex study of the question of what it means to ignore the existence of discrimination in today’s world. Like others I am challenged to expand my understanding of the implications of this shift and to act accordingly but change isn’t coming it is already here.
To retain its status as a leader among cities Atlanta must seize every opportunity to tackle issues of diversity head on with compassion and urgency.