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Inclusion is Personal

The great American treasure, Maya Angelou, wrote: "Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."

The manifestations of extreme forms of prejudice being exposed on the national stage in the wake of the tragic and senseless murder of George Floyd, the latest victim in a long history of human rights violations, are reminders of its abhorrent nature.

None of us like to think of ourselves as prejudiced, bigoted or racist. But if you're honest, you will find we all have prejudices. It is next to impossible to grow up without them in a world with ready-made biases against people of different skin colors, ethnicities, religions, ages and gender identities, and so forth. Prejudices can be so ingrained that you're not even aware of them. Still, they inform your attitudes and behavior, which have harmful effects on others as well as yourself. Prejudiced people often don't realize they're their own worse enemy, cutting themselves off from new ideas and perspectives, enriching relationships and opportunities to grow and expand their lives while here on the planet. Inclusion, and all its attendant issues, is personal.

This is why any successful diversity and inclusion training program must begin and end with people. It must be able to help individuals identify, acknowledge and work through their prejudices. Anything less is a waste of time and resources.

Prejudice is a blight. And as Maya Angelou wrote, a burden. It is burden with dire consequences. It is a barrier to human progress that must be removed.

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