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Treating others

It was about 15 years ago when Omari and I went to lunch together. Omari was a graduate student. We worked together teaching classes at Purdue University. Omari is African American. The eating establishment was very busy and customers were coming and going. No one was paying much attention until Omari and I stepped through the doorway. When we entered the room every single person in the room looked up and stared at us. This was very strange to me. I never experienced this before or after. I did notice all the other customers were white. I turned to Omari and said, “Everyone just looked up and stared at us. Does this happen to you often?” Omari replied, “All the time.”

I do not know what it is like to grow up and to live in the United States as a black male. My experience having lunch with Omari does give me pause to reflect that diverse others may very well experience life differently than I do. We may see the same thing but based on our identities and diversity, we construct different meanings of what we witness.

What is important is that I have self-awareness of my diversity and identities. I need self-awareness of the lens through which I make meaning. In addition, it is important to strive to understand the diverse lens through which people different from me may construct a different perspective based on their diversity. I need to develop other awareness when facing diversity. I strive to learn how to treat diverse others as they wish to be treated.

Your assignment in this step is to identify a diversity different from you. Reflect on any rules or biases you may unconsciously impose on that diverse other. Then ask yourself in what ways might that person different from you wish to be treated.

Please share your thoughts and reflection in the comments and discuss the comments of other learners.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Diversity and Inclusion

Purdue University

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