Four years ago, I wrote an opinion piece; Tolerance is for Cowards.
In this piece, I discuss the utilization of tolerance and acceptance interchangeably when addressing identity issues, especially in the workplace. In 2017, following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and the former President's rhetoric sympathizing with white supremacy, the bar for acceptance and tolerance was low in this country and continues to be on the floor today.
In 2021, tolerance is still for cowards, and acceptance is a basic human expectation. However, if we are to thrive and continue to grow, we can no longer accept tolerance and must demand more than acceptance in our organizations and society. We need to not only acknowledge our differences but embrace and celebrate them!
A difference in identity brings unique perspectives into the workplace regardless of the type of difference, i.e., neuro, ability, ethnicity, gender, or race. Differences create a representative workplace, represent the consumer(s) served and improves business and workplace culture. Diversity, equity, and inclusion move us into the future and away from the past of hatred and discrimination.
Our LGBTQ+ community's Pride Month exemplifies what it is to no longer tolerate tolerance but scream from the rooftops to accept me! From Stonewall to pronouns when introducing oneself, Pride Month recognizes a problematic historical past and celebrates the courage LGBTQ+ people have in embracing who they are. From sexual orientation to gender identity (or lack-there-of), LGBTQ+ people adopt an identity welcomed under the guise of a colorful rainbow flag. They continue to show America and the rest of the world what it means to embrace your entire self, push past the medical model binary of sex and gender, and love themselves through it all.
Following centuries of oppression, execution, and forced closeting, our LGBTQ+ brethren finally have taken the space and freedom to express who they indeed are. LGBTQ+ people scream, you will no longer tolerate me, but you will see me, celebrate me, and embrace me. If you don't, there's no space for you.
If you are merely tolerating others who are different, you miss out on the beautiful intersections that make America a unique, diverse, and amazing country. Moreover, if you simply tolerate, you will mismatch corporate culture and American culture that acknowledges and celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The time is now to acknowledge, embrace, and celebrate the richness of our differences. The time is now to expand our knowledge of others' differences, challenges, and lived experiences. The time is now to shed cowardly behaviors of tolerance and acceptance and bravely demonstrate our collective pride in the fullness of our shared humanity.
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