I have an essay - non-fiction on integration. It needs a title if anyone has a suggestion. It's for a publication that is distributed in a multi-racial middle-class area. I don't have a lot of descriptive imagery, because I'm trying to keep it short, due to the constraints of the publication, while still getting my point across.
I was raised to believe that we should treat all people with respect regardless of race or ethnicity or other characteristics. I feel I've lived this way to the best of my ability, which has included promoting integration since segregation would be counter to these goals. What follows is one of my experiences in helping to create a multicultural community.
When I first joined my career association in the '80's, it was integrated. There were more people who looked like me than didn't, but I thought that was a good thing. After several months passed, I found I was having trouble convincing the group that we should be engaging in certain important advocacy activities. I called a former association leader who had been active in advocacy work to ask what I might be doing wrong. She asked me if I had noticed that the members were acting racist and that I was the only one of my race left attending meetings. I honestly hadn't noticed. I thanked her for her perspective on the situation, but rejected the notion that I should leave it.
At the next meeting, I noticed that there were no members attending with the same skin color as mine. I looked them in the eyes for a hint of hate. I didn't see it. It wasn't there. There may have been some distrust or discomfort, but I had come to know these people and I believed in the goodness of their heart. There may have been an occasional action by an individual that wasn't very friendly, but I considered the actions of an individual as not representing the entire group. I continued to be active in the organization in the limited way in which I was allowed while continuing to try to convince them that we needed to do more. Finally, one member recognized the validity of my arguments. She told me that my race was a major factor in the attitudes of my fellow members.
Once the problem was out in the open and I had an ally in my goals for the organization, we were able to work together with much more ease. The organization grew and it soon became integrated again. We accomplished a lot together and made some good friends.
I've thought of this experience often and remembered that it takes patience, persistence, and a friendly attitude to build trust and help to create a multicultural organization. I have recently joined an African American organization as its first white member. I feel very welcomed there, but I can understand how inviting a lot of my white friends could make them feel uncomfortable due to a history that breeds distrust, so I won't be doing that soon. I do encourage all to consider how they can help create a multicultural community since we can only learn to trust those whom we know who've acted worthy of their trust.
Thanks in advance to anyone who attempts this. Specific examples of how I could improve it would be helpful. The audience is probably primarily working commuters and single restaurant users of all ages and interests.