Since when do we only join social groups that match our skin color? Haven’t we fought to have equal access to everything?
Moving from the New York City area to Oklahoma, I kinda assumed things would be less… diverse here. Much to my surprise, there are tons of cultural pockets that expose my family and I to new things. After a few months of being a resident, I knew it was only a matter of time before I wanted to join a networking group. I participated in the Junior League years ago and was happy to see they had a chapter in Oklahoma. One of my biggest draws to this organization is their dedication to volunteerism and impacting the community. They’re a group of professional women from various industries that share a common cause. It was always awesome to work with CEOs, small business owners, stay-at-home moms and other ladies who shared similar interests and hobbies.
Before joining I went to an interest meeting where I noticed a lack of minority members. Knowing what the organization was about I chose to sign up anyway and have thus far had nothing but good news to report. Sure it’s pretty obvious I am one of few, but that doesn’t take away from the rich conversations and relationships I’ve developed. In fact, it sparks more discussions about ways we can reach out more.
When I told some of my gal pals about my experience, they could only focus on one thing–the lack of diversity.
“Why do you want to be one of the only minorities in a group?”
“Why don’t you just join an organization that has plenty of ‘us’ there?”
There’s nothing wrong with joining minority-focused organizations just like there’s nothing wrong with participating in one with fewer faces that look like yours. Sometimes it takes one or two “brave souls” who are willing to pave the way for others to join and feel more comfortable doing so. It’s also good to mix up your circles from time to time as you never know who could be that missing link to opening a new door of opportunity.
While it’s wonderful to have minority-focused organizations, it’s important not to unconsciously segregate ourselves from others. So many of us have fresh ideas and new approaches that deserve to be heard from an assortment of different platforms.
If you’re ever faced with joining an organization that doesn’t have a ton of Black faces, do it nonetheless. You never know the impact you’ll have until you take that first step.