❼ My Unexpected Encounter With The Most Controversial Issue In America

To all of you that so generously supported my book launch last week, THANK YOU!

I appreciate you so much and wouldn’t trade you for fried plantains! Lol Today, I have a really good story for you that you don’t want to miss. Enjoy!

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As you know, an integral part of my work is Speaking engagements.

And so when I was invited to meet with a man who was allegedly supposed to hire me for a Speaking engagement, I was stoked!

The man was probably about 48 years old, average build, Caucasian.

You know, your regular white guy that you would expect to see in Indiana.

I arrived at the meeting and, at first, we were having a fairly routine type of conversation.
make a difference starbucks race together

Towards the end of the conversation; however, things took an interesting turn when I asked the man to tell me a little bit more about the audience.

He explained that the audience would likely be all-male, business owners and that they were mid-lower income earners by the standards of our state.

So I said:

“Are you sure that they’re ready for this?”

What I meant by that statement was:

“Are you sure that these mid-lower income earners are in a financial position to implement the ideas that I would be sharing?”

He must have heard something completely different because his response to me was

“You know, you make a good point. Maybe they’re not ready for this. Maybe they’re not ready for a black woman to come and speak to our group”

I kid you not. True story

How do you think I reacted to this? Lol

When he said that, I paused and said

“hmnnn that’s interesting”

…and I didn’t say anything else.

I guess he took that as an invitation to keep going so he told me more.

He told me a lot more.

We ended up sitting there for another hour or two and talked about everything and anything.

We talked about so many different topics that you would normally never speak to a stranger about. And honestly, I think it was a conversation worth having.

I’m sharing this mostly because of Starbuck’s recent #RaceTogether campaign, their attempt to make a difference by starting hard conversations. So I’m curious.

  • Have you ever had an unexpectedly deep conversation?
  • What would you have done if you were in my shoes?


12 thoughts on “❼ My Unexpected Encounter With The Most Controversial Issue In America

  1. The difference between your encounter and #RaceTogether is that it is forcing people to have the race conversation, people who could care less about the experiences of people of color (POC), people who wouldn’t mind having the conversation, and people who really just don’t want to have to deal with it at such a time. I couldn’t imagine being It’s forcing employees that really just want to do their job to have a conversation with customers that just want their latte or whatever. Race conversations and deep conversations take hours and willingness on both sides. The employees and customers literally don’t have time for that. Your encounter happened naturally and you and the person you were talking to were willing participants in the conversation. You also had hours to spare. When it comes to the race conversation, the willingness of POC to engage and deal with the backlash of those who are apathetic needs to be taken into account. Starbucks has 40% of its employees as POC. But there is a question asking how many of them are in administrative positions? Considering the overwhelming disapproval from POC, I’m not sure it would happen had the administration had more POC (or any at all since they have not commented on that). Making a difference ≠ putting people in higher stress positions in an already fast-paced environment.

    If I were in your position, well, it would have depended on my mood. Sometimes, I’m down for such conversations. Sometimes, I’m not. But either way, having deep conversations with strangers is one of my favorite things.

    1. Hey Mary! So glad you saw this and wrote a comment!! I’m totally with you on the point about time – I wondered too about how it would work (from a business standpoint) for a barista to take 2 hours of work time to have this type of discussion.

      I also did some digging to find out where Howard Schultz was coming from with this campaign and something he seemed to really emphasize in all of his videos and articles was that it was completely optional and people could do it only if they wanted to. Unfortunately, it seems that many media outlets have omitted this in their coverage (probably because they knew it would aggravate a lot of people Lol!).

      It also sounds like they have meetups and face-to-face groups in various cities around the country for people that want to engage in a deeper way. From a strategic standpoint, I suspect that the whole thing about writing #RaceTogether on the cups, though awkward, wasn’t a total fail because it has highlighted these groups (somewhat) and got people to share (look at us Lol!)

      And LOL @ it depends on your mood. bahahaha oh my days. I don’t even know why i find that statement so hilarious but it totally cracked me up! Thanks again for this comment. I always appreciate your willingness to engage and share your perspective xo

  2. We facilitated Difficult Dialogues at Purdue Black Cultural Center. However in an academic environment, you have more open minds and more learned individuals.

    1. I see what you mean. An academic setting definitely lends itself to dialog much more easily. Very very good point!

  3. Well, you did preface it by saying this was Indiana. Not a surprising conversation at all. I hope you book the gig though, let’s GOMAD! LOL

  4. first time on your blog *yay* good going hunnie! real proud of you and i’ll def get me a copy of your book soonish. love ya!

  5. Uh, wow. That’s quite a response, not one I would have expected–especially in such a direct manner. It would be hard to know what to say in that situation–and there’s 2 levels to that statement, the fact that you’re African and the fact that you’re a woman. My Mom also has a lot of experience in public speaking–and at certain times and places she’s run into situations where places have withdrawn their invitation to speak because some members/attendees had a problem with her gender.

    1. Hey Rachel!! You make such a good point – there are definitely 2 levels to what he said. I think in that moment, I was interpreting his statement less as rejection and more as honesty. That said, your mom’s experience totally blows my mind. To have an invitation withdrawn because of something like that is beyond anything i can even imagine.

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