Status quo

During the first day of my class in college, a young lady sat down next to me, extended her hand to shake mine, and introduced herself.

Hi, I’m Charelle.

I was flabbergasted.

Didn’t she know that we were college freshmen?

Did she not get the memo that members of the opposite sex were supposed to pretend that the other is invisible, stealing glances from across the room? That the proper response when passing each other on the sidewalk would have been to stare at the ground and pretend it’s not happening?

Who gave this young lady permission to behave like an adult?

Just because a behavior is commonly accepted doesn’t mean you must subscribe to it. Many people take part in activities and exhibit behaviors just to fit in, to be accepted, and to avoid the terrifying responsibility of developing a backbone.

I gained a tremendous amount of respect for Charelle in that moment, and remain friends to this day. The status quo is a dangerous beast, and waging war on it is in our best interest.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.

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