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  • Writer's pictureBeckie

Schooled by a Three Year Old

My almost three year old daughter was happily coloring with her brand new box of 64 crayons. Our tiny lower floor of an old house was part of "seminary family housing" and perfect for noisy kids of all cultures and colors. My friend, Dorothy, was from Kenya. Her little Josephine was Anna's dear buddy. I don't remember exactly why I was discussing Josephine but I said something Josephine being black. Have you ever received the scolding of a three year old? I was immediately told that Josephine was NOT black - she was brown and Sylvia - from Brazil - was tan - and "I am peach." It has taken decades for the Crayola Crayon company to attempt to have multiple skin colors but kids have known all along that skin color is not only "peach".

If as a leader you are ignoring the differences in your team members that have to do with race, you are kidding yourself. Mentoring is about more giving advice to someone just like you. You need to get into someone's skin - and Humility is the only starting point. School yourself. Read! Listen! I suggest starting with White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, but there are loads of articles, podcasts and books.

Be brave - it is awkward - call your friend of color and say "How are you doing?" - then Listen. Just listen.

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