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Old 01-10-2013, 09:01 AM   #1
 
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Default A sort of affirmative action question

I thought at first that it would be good to get feedback on this from other WOC, but this issue really is about women in general, so I'd love to hear from anyone. I got an email that I've been sitting on for a week because I didn't know how to address it. It was an invitation to participate in something that might be good for me professionally. It's not a huge deal, but it might help in minor, marginal, or unexpected ways.

Before I got the invitation, I got a weird forwarded email from a colleague I don't know very well. It was an email dialogue between him and the inviter (whom I don't know at all). The inviter was expressing concern that there were only white men on the project and was asking my colleague if he knew anyone else he could include. My colleague suggested me and a couple of other people.

I'm wondering if I was CC'd on this email by mistake because it strikes me as odd that they'd want it known that this was the reason I was included. Would you do it? In a way, I think it's good that they're aware and trying to be inclusive. But my immediate reaction was, what the hell?? I know these conversations go on, and in fact I've been a part of them, but I don't know how to react.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:03 AM   #2
 
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Was the guy who cc'd you on the email White or a PoC?
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:05 AM   #3
 
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White. They're all white.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:12 AM   #4
 
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W/o knowing everything, I would say you should go. Thank him for thinking of you. And bring your A Game.

There is a need to invite more diversity into the workplace and onto projects and teams. There really is. Not to be politically correct. But to be more culturally competent and effective.

There is no need for you to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about that.

These guys are smart enough to realize it and fortunate enough to (possibly) have your input.

What I personally hate is when I am invited to participate in/attend "Black events" but am excluded from similar "White/general events."

Like when the director of our agency invited (only) a bunch of my White colleagues to see The Lion King w/ her. And then invited me, a few months later, to attend an Dr. MLK dinner w/ her.

No, thanks.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:21 AM   #5
 
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i dont know how i would feel about it. if it would help me in the future even a little as you discribe, i would still go. what can it hurt?

i have a friend who son is in a gifted and talented class in school. the school is mostly white with a few other groups (not many, but some). the school had to include minorites into the gifted adn talented class to continue to get funding. she knows her son got in because of this new mandate. but she jumped on it so her son could get the best opportunities possible. what pissed her off is that the only other black child they allowed in is a special ed's child. she is not sure why his parnets would allow it but that's another story i won't get into that. my point: if it wont hurt you at all but can possibly help you in some way do it even if its obvious affirmative action.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:23 AM   #6
 
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I agree with Spiderlashes and Thelio. I'd go. The more people get to know one another, the more they understand and see common ground. Even though the reason you were invited is not ideal, it will likely have a good outcome, and as you say, it may be beneficial to you. Just put aside why you were invited and contribute positively.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:29 AM   #7
 
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Thanks, SL & thelio. I think I'm going to do it. One of the things that bothers me about it is that I know it's about my visibility as a black woman. I feel like they just want to be able to point to me and say, "See?" I've been watching a lot of political news on TV lately and they like to talk about "optics." In the last couple of days, it's been about the optics of the new potential cabinet (all white men). A month ago, it was about the house congressional committee chairs (all white men). If the only way to fix these things is to actively seek out specific people because they are minorities and women--assuming they are qualified, of course--then it's better than the alternative.

ETA: And thanks to curlypearl! Didn't see your post before I posted.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:38 AM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ursula View Post
Thanks, SL & thelio. I think I'm going to do it. One of the things that bothers me about it is that I know it's about my visibility as a black woman. I feel like they just want to be able to point to me and say, "See?" I've been watching a lot of political news on TV lately and they like to talk about "optics." In the last couple of days, it's been about the optics of the new potential cabinet (all white men). A month ago, it was about the house congressional committee chairs (all white men). If the only way to fix these things is to actively seek out specific people because they are minorities and women--assuming they are qualified, of course--then it's better than the alternative.

ETA: And thanks to curlypearl! Didn't see your post before I posted.
Are you assuming you're a token they're just dropping into the group for sake of appearances?

IDK what kind of event or group or whatever this "something" is. Or how closely related to your career or personal interests it is.

Do you feel you are qualified to be a member of the group? Do you feel you have something to contribute?

I wouldn't go just bc they suggested I go...if I didn't feel I could offer something.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:10 AM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ursula View Post
Thanks, SL & thelio. I think I'm going to do it. One of the things that bothers me about it is that I know it's about my visibility as a black woman. I feel like they just want to be able to point to me and say, "See?" I've been watching a lot of political news on TV lately and they like to talk about "optics." In the last couple of days, it's been about the optics of the new potential cabinet (all white men). A month ago, it was about the house congressional committee chairs (all white men). If the only way to fix these things is to actively seek out specific people because they are minorities and women--assuming they are qualified, of course--then it's better than the alternative.

ETA: And thanks to curlypearl! Didn't see your post before I posted.
Are you assuming you're a token they're just dropping into the group for sake of appearances?

IDK what kind of event or group or whatever this "something" is. Or how closely related to your career or personal interests it is.

Do you feel you are qualified to be a member of the group? Do you feel you have something to contribute?

I wouldn't go just bc they suggested I go...if I didn't feel I could offer something.
I agree and I also understand how the op feels. But if you can benefit from it and prove yourself(which sucks that we have to) then why not.

This reminds me of the binders comment. Why do white men have to specifically go out to seek others? Is it because they were really not qualified in the first place? In that case, they shouldn't be included. Or is it that they are so biased that they just overlook any one who's not a white male and have to make an aggressive effort to include others(which is most likely the case). So in that case they are doing a good thing in their eyes which is why the binders comment didn't seem offensive to others. But what it is really saying is that you probably are racist and sexist and don't realize it. Rant over.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:21 AM   #10
 
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Who is the binder? I'm confused.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:30 AM   #11
 
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Quote:
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Who is the binder? I'm confused.
Binders full of women - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:30 AM   #12
 
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Who is the binder? I'm confused.
The comment about "binders full of women" made by Mitt Romney in one of the debates.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:33 AM   #13
 
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Thanks, Josephine and Narnia. I remember it now.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:54 AM   #14
 
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Is it a project you're interested in? Is it a subject where a POC's perspective would be particularly useful (I assume so)? Then I'd participate.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:44 PM   #15
 
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My company tends to have mostly white males, and pockets of white males form very easily since they are the majority. It would definitely depend on tone, but I wouldn't be bothered by defauly by someone putting together a meeting, realizing it only had white males and specifically asking for help coming up with more diversity.

As SL mentioned, it's not just for political corrrectness that the diversity helps. Diversity of thought among participants makes every organization stronger. Studies have shown our (US norm) current corporate structure by default most helps those with a specific personality type most commonly seen in white males - and only through intentionally increasing diversity of thought will that start to change to instead recognize and help those who can contribute rather than those with a specific personality type.
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:25 PM   #16
 
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In response to SL and TNB, yes, this is something I would be interested in anyway and something I am qualified to do.

Quote:
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My company tends to have mostly white males, and pockets of white males form very easily since they are the majority. It would definitely depend on tone, but I wouldn't be bothered by defauly by someone putting together a meeting, realizing it only had white males and specifically asking for help coming up with more diversity.

As SL mentioned, it's not just for political corrrectness that the diversity helps. Diversity of thought among participants makes every organization stronger. Studies have shown our (US norm) current corporate structure by default most helps those with a specific personality type most commonly seen in white males - and only through intentionally increasing diversity of thought will that start to change to instead recognize and help those who can contribute rather than those with a specific personality type.
I agree with all of this.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:10 PM   #17
 
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ursula - go!

All I can say is, consider the source. We're still waiting to recover from the existence of the likes in this clip! It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Best of Times - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 11/15/12 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
(I hope you get a laugh from this. I had to watch it for a course I'm taking called Immigration & Ethnicity in the United States. It definitely applies to all women as well as people who are not WASPs. (Not that all WASPs males are bigoted, bad, evil, nasty, etc. Many of them in the media, however, are delusional.)

If you don't go to this meeting, you already know the project will be handled by a bunch of white men. You can't let that happen! Even if they were stupid as all-get-out in the handling of your invitation, your presence will be further evidence that that the good-old-boy's delusions are useless. Like Jon Stewart says, they're going to die soon, and guess who's going to be in charge?
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