I am a 45-year-old, African American, male, who is general counsel for a small firm.
Traveling is a big part of my work, and [while on these business trips], I’ve started to notice a trend that has me concerned. When boarding a flight with unassigned seatings, I always select an aisle seat. A person will usually take the window seat. However, unless the flight is totally sold out, no one wants to sit in the middle seat—next to me. I’ve also noticed a subtle shift in white females who work for me.
All of this has resulted in me looking at the racial implications on a deeper level. Do I accept all of this as a sign of a greater prevalence of racial disharmony resulting from the Trump presidency?
There is no mistaking the fact race relations have undergone a dramatic shift in the last few months. However, this does not mean that personal biases or prejudices had not existed before; the difference is that people are more comfortable with expressing their feelings.
In my experience, when people have the opportunity to choose a seat on a flight, they often try to avoid sitting next to anyone that is traveling with a small or child, as well as sitting in the middle seat. I firmly believe there are more fair-minded, good people than those who are quick to make a snap judgment based on the color of a person’s skin. People of color must see this period as an opportunity to expand our toolsets as well as our relationships, to sustain ourselves in these interesting times.
Also, many individuals have a lot of things going on in their lives that we may not even realize. So, it’s important we must interact with others, while being aware of and sensitive to the fact that everyone is dealing with something.
You mentioned noticing a shift within the white females who work in your department; my question is, when was the last time you made an effort to connect with them? As the general counsel of your firm, you have the opportunity to create the tone for your company. It’s your responsibility to spark a deeper connection with your staff. It could be via a casual brown-bag lunch experience you organize, where everyone sits together to address their concerns and share ideas once a month.
Here is a quote from my book, Intuition: The Hidden Asset Everyone Should Learn to Use, that may help inspire you:
“Many people mistakenly think that a large budget is needed to implement change in an organization. In reality, small changes produce subtle shifts that have lasting impact on a group.”
Finally, as minorities, we must be aware of the opportunity to learn during these changing times. Oftentimes, when we take the time to self-examine during a particularly trying period, our learning accelerates, as opposed to times in which everything seems to be running smoothly. I remember growing up when there were a variety of black businesses, which offered services in my neighborhood. In order to become self-sufficient while crossing color boundaries within our industries, we need to get back to building opportunities. Have you noticed that, when people attend sports events, they pull together— regardless of race—and scream and encourage their team to win? We need to join together to make things better.
Sheree Franklin, an intuitive life strategist, helps people to find the courage to release their life challenges in order to live in alignment with their true self. Franklin is a practitioner at Holistic Health Practice at One East Superior, in Chicago. Her practice includes one-to-one coaching as well as speaking to organizations. She is also the author of Intuition: The Hidden Asset Everyone Should Learn to Use.
To learn more about Franklin’s book, click here. You can also find out more information about Franklin by visiting her website, www.shereefranklin.com. Also, email Franklin your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.