Monday, May 4, 2015

Crossing the Great Divide Part II

“Disparate treatment leads to disparate impact.”

In an earlier post, I started with the above quote.  I said I would get back to it in my next post...I fibbed.  I wrote another post in-between and it's been more than a few weeks since I did that.  

Since I wrote part I, on this subject, another young black man has died at the hands of the police. This time, it happened in Baltimore, Maryland.  This, too, has triggered riots and racial discord.  The six policemen involved have been charged with homicide.  Time will tell if a jury finds them guilty, but for now, the investigation has found them worthy of being held accountable for their actions.  A step in the right direction.

It feels, to me, like an uprising.  A revolution.  A time that we must all evaluate just how we, personally, contribute to the racial discord...intentionally or unintentionally.  

Let me just say that, I, in no way, shape or form condone the rioting.  I guess, "two wrongs don't make it right" applies for me here.  I also don't believe that most anyone does.  Black, white, pink or purple.  With that said, as I continue my path of "Crossing the Great Divide", I'm willing to look at and consider my contribution, and most definitely not an intentional one, to the situation.  I invite you to take this path with me...

When this all first came about, last August, 2014, and as I wrote about in my first blog post on this subject, I took a step which involved having a discussion with a black man.  I wanted a better understanding and a different perspective.  After all, aren't most opinions and biases based on our own personal experiences...albeit it, perspectives.

When I sat down with Pastor B, a youth minister at the church we're going to, he explained to me the black person's plight, and I would bet, most generally speaking, the black man's plight.  This is when he used the term, “Disparate treatment leads to disparate impact.”  I had to have him explain it to me.  This is what he said, 

"Disparate treatment is when you have people experiencing the same or similar situations but consistently receiving different or unequal treatments.

Disparate impact is the results of disparate treatment.  The impact of continual disproportionate treatment. How that treatment has effected people."

These two terms are important and have really stuck with me.  I think they are worthy of everyone's consideration and something to all our life experiences.  Here's a loosely based analogy.

Let's look at the hot topic within our schools; BULLYING.  A person gets singled out, time and again, for whatever reason.  Let's say it happened to his father and to his father before him.  They had the same tendencies, personality traits, their walk of life never had changed, generation to generation.  The grandfather was bullied, the father was bullied and so is the son. 

After awhile, it plays on their psyche.  Their confidence.  Who they are and how they feel about themselves.  It's constant and relentless behavior on the part of the ones doing the bullying.  The conversations in the home are ones of defeat, poor image, self doubt.  No one stands up to the one comes to the rescue.  Because of the way they have been treated, time and again, the results are how it has effected the family.

To me, this is what is happening in the black community.  In easy terms, there has been a lifetime of bullying.  That lifetime of bullying has reached it's pressure point and we see it in the "acting out" of their frustrations, anger, disappointments and struggles.  No, I don't get it!  But, I never's not my journey.  But, I can try to open up my eyes to their struggles.  I can learn to ask the questions and enter into a conversation to get a different perspective.  

I've done it time and again...spouted off my opinion, based on "my" view, without really considering how someone else may be feeling about the same situation.  How something is effecting them.  However, if we think about it, don't we have more compassion for someone that has gone through a similar situation, let's say, the death of their grand parent.  We can relate.  We have some knowledge of what they are feeling.  I want to attempt to think about another's "perspective" before forming my biased opinion and SHARING it.  It's a struggle...sometimes it's out there before I take a breath.  OR, worse yet, before I've even really thought about the situation.  I'm really trying to do better.

Crossing the Great Divide...I've started the process and I know I have someone that I can go to to chat with on this subject.  He honored my "lack of knowledge" by respecting me and understanding my naivety.  I started the conversation with an upfront apology.  Asking him to understand I was not coming from a place of intentional disrespect or hurtfulness.  Really, I was coming from a place of ignorance...on the subject.  

In my next post on this subject, I'll write about his comment, "
“No conversation starts at an argument, it escalates to aggression.”  It again, opened my eyes to how "things" get started.  With our friends, our spouse and especially our children.  Stay tuned.  

Please leave a comment here...I'd appreciate your thoughts.  Feel free to share with your friends, as well. #disparateimpact #disparatetreatment #racialdiscord #blackmansfight #racerelations #conversationswithablackman #crossingthegreatdivide

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