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Morality must catch up with our capacity

Late last week, I listened to a powerful and inspiring event, “Celebrating Black Excellence and Success in Oregon,” available on the OSU-Cascades YouTube Channel. I was blown away by the brilliant minds serving our communities and people.


Admittedly, it was a roller coaster of emotions for me, ranging from anger, defensiveness, fear, inspiration, empowerment and hope.


I experienced the event as authentic and real (very real) and had the following personal takeaways/reflections:


• I am at times very uncomfortable navigating the diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) space. This feeling of discomfort or fragility comes from my ignorance and lack of effort to learn more about our past and present inequalities and injustices.

I must own this and continue to examine my understanding of social constructs and internalized biases.


Race does not cause inequalities, but racism does, and so does sexism, and I cannot deny the privileges and unearned advantages that I have been afforded as a man not only in the U.S. but throughout the nearly 50 countries in which I worked and lived.


• I know so little about DEI and it’s on me to educate myself. No one owes me hand-holding and knowledge. The onus of escaping the comfort of my ignorance is on me.

So, I have started by being deliberately curious. This is the first step in my personal journey. I have read a couple of excellent books in recent weeks that have helped me become more curious. I am practicing my newly learned knowledge. It’s not pretty at all, and in fact, it’s clunky and messy.


I have found it helpful to give myself permission to practice this work imperfectly and offer myself grace and understanding. It’s my journey after all.


• I just cannot figure out how I/we could evolve without genuinely acknowledging our history, one tarnished by our choices to accept and profit from slavery and human exploitation, Jim Crow and Black exclusion laws, and built-in or structural racism and sexism, and the intersectionality of the two. If we want to have a different future, we must own our past and acknowledge our ancestors’ choices. Only then, we can choose to be different ancestors for the future generations.


In this regard, I am elated with the bipartisan support for House Bill 4052 which declares “Racism as a Public Health Crisis.” It’s a solid first step which rises above defensiveness and fragility and gives us a chance to align morality and capacity.


My mentor, the late Jim Grant, once said, “Morality must march with capacity.” We have the capacity. We must ensure morality catches up.


I so appreciated the speakers from the Celebrating Black Excellence and Success in Oregon event. I was humbled by their courage and patience as I try to catch up. In some ways, as the speakers alluded to, it’s not so difficult. Just be a good human being.

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