Diversity Resistance (Part II)

by Marvin E. Johnson
March 2002 Marvin E. Johnson
Like the proverbial elephant in the room, Diversity Resistance can be in our face yet difficult to see. Lurking in the shadows of our existence, it is part of the blind spot that forms the barrier between the cognitive understanding and the actual acceptance of diversity.

Each of us has "unique" life experiences which determine our world view. From the time we arrived in this world we have been and still are part of numerous formal and informal cultures and sub cultures. As we assimilated into and/or traversed the various environments (communities, organizations, relationships, etc.) that have been or are a part of our lives, we have received conscious and unconscious imprints of, among other things, words, thoughts, attitudes, expectations and beliefs that are ingrained into the fabric of who we are. What we see in any situation and how we interpret it is a product of the imprinted layers that have formed the foundation of our world view. The latent layers of imprints and the affect they have on us become part of our blind spot and have an inordinate amount of control over us. This power is derived from our ignorance of our layered imprints which are an integral part of who are and what we do.

We only see what we can see and we don't know what we don't know. In this regard, many Diversity Resisters, those who have a cognitive understanding of the benefits of diversity but are not supportive of its integration into the fabric of the organization, are not aware of their obstruction. In fact, some have told me that being able to recognize their diversity blind spots helped them to identify traces of their own diversity resistance. Because our blind spots are part of our make up, any external assessment or scrutiny of them may be taken as a personal affront. The challenge, therefore, is to get people to recognize their blind spots without creating a defensive or adversarial environment. (to be continued)

Biography


Marvin Johnson is a nationally recognized mediator, arbitrator and trainer with over 27 years of dispute resolution experience. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution and previously was Associate Professor at Bowie State University. Mr. Johnson received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Catholic University. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Kent State University and a Master of Science Degree in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin. Mr. Johnson has worked for the Department of Labor, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the National Treasury Employees Union, the National Football League Players' Association, and the National Academy of Conciliators. As a consultant, Mr. Johnson serves as a mediator, an arbitrator, a fact-finder, and a facilitator in hundreds of public and private disputes. He provides dispute resolution training and lectures extensively on the subject of conflict management.



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