One of the activities we did was to take a sheet of paper and fold it into thirds. We were given 10 M&Ms to place in the center. This was to represent who I was from an ethnic and racial perspective.
Then we were asked 10 questions. Some questions included:
- The last person I invited over for dinner was the same or different than me ethnically and racially.
- The last place I went to get a coffee was owned by someone who was the same or different than me.
- The last person I talked about politics with was the same or different than me.
As we thought about those statements, we moved our M&Ms to the most accurate side of the paper. If the person was different than you, move the M&M to that side, if it was the same, move it to the left. At the end, this is what my sheet of paper looked like.
That was eye opening. What was even more severe was knowing that all three of my "different" M&Ms came from the same person. Specifically, someone who I was dating at the time. Ouch.
I make decisions that keep me VERY safely inside my comfort zone.
The true zinger came when one of the presenters, who identified as black, said that her survival and success in this world depended on having all of her M&Ms in the "different" column.
The fact that I can survive and be successful with all my M&Ms in the "same" column is privilege.
Now the question is, now what? I think there is some growth in this awareness, but I feel like awareness is just the very first step. Is the goal to move ALL your M&Ms to the "different" column? Is 50% sufficient? Where do you even start?!
One of the presenters stressed that this is why she doesn't love doing these types of trainings. To do the work actually necessary to move some of these M&Ms is extremely uncomfortable and risky. So much so that most people will not do it - even after taking 8 hours of training around cultural competency.
Right now, for where I am at the "cultural competency" progression, I know raising awareness in myself and in others is a great place to start. I also come back to the idea of "faith without works is dead" which is biblical at it's core, but I think the idea resonates here as well. I cannot be culturally competent without changing some of my actions.