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Let’s Stop Over-Analysing ‘Race’ And Gender

What A Viral Photo Taught Me About Human Nature

Dream Nation is a project, which aims to inspire a generation of practical dreamers, that I am a part of, and we recently had a successful gala.

Early January 2015, the photos from our first gala were put out throughout the blogosphere and social media. But, there was one picture in particular which went viral and sparked a lot of controversy.

This photo has had over 100k shares online in a short space of time, and almost 50k shares on Tumblr alone.

Now, there was a lot of debate around the women in the photo, and the fact that their professions were mentioned.

There were two schools of thought; some people felt like they were trying to prove a point by posting the picture, others loved it and found it inspirational.

I have learnt that as humans:

1. We tend to over generalize a lot.

2. We give too much attention to negativity, over more optimistic observations.

3. And we like to make excuses.

Coming to think about it, even from an early age, we learn these habits, they just come natural to us.

Neuroscientist have found that our brains like to generalize in order to simplify and categorise things for efficiency and to save energy or brain power.

As multiple studies show, we usually have a stronger emotional response to negativity than positive things.

We like to make excuses for things that do not go so well, in order to make ourselves feel better, to take away the burden of responsibility, or to protect our own views and biases.

Personally, I love the photo. It is both funny and inspiring, and those achievements are worth celebrating.

Now, I agree with the idea that the picture is just showing some successful young women, who happen to be friends, which have helped each other through their journey.

What I disagreed with were people that had positive things to say about the photo, but then say those who disagree would are jealous or mostly men who are intimidated by women that are successful.

This is just one of the assumptions they have made about those who disagree.

Another perspective I did not agree with is the idea that these people deserve to be applauded even more, not just because of their professional achievements, but because of their race and gender. I find that to be a bit condescending, even though that is not the intention.

Yes, I understand that people from ethnic minorities are less prevalent in certain fields, and yes, they go through certain struggles that come as a result of ethnic background or gender.

Perception plays a part in society, and there are some general differences, typically, between males and females and the professional results they get across the board. I understand this.

But, it would be over generalizing to assume that something as complex as the conditions surrounding career progression and achievement, is exactly the same case with everybody.

It is also annoying to see so many people state the obvious, we can clearly see their complexion, and their gender. A friend told me that it almost comes off as being patronising, and I agree, even if that is not the intention.

But, at the end of the day, I believe that the world wants solutions, and it does not matter if you are green, or an alien. We all go through struggles, but it is how we handle them that makes the difference.

Another photo inspired by the original

I will never just assume that somebody from an ethnic minority, who happens to be a female, went through more than somebody that was not in the same situation, because I do not know everybody’s story.

It is not for me to compare. Not everybody has to ‘beat the odds’ or ‘fight against the tides’ in order to make it in their occupation.

All I know is that everybody has their struggles in life and even if they are similar, no two journeys are the same.

Now, the fact that they are female and are from certain ethnic groups may inspire some people even more than others, but it does not have to be said at every chance, we can all see.

One thing that I have always refused to do is let my complexion be a factor in my mind.

I understand that biases exist, and there are stereotypes, but that has never stopped me adding value to people’s lives with my skills and talents. And you know what?

That mindset has served me well, the same why I never let my age hinder me, or let others make me feel comfortable, it is almost as if I do not even notice it.

And guess what? People actually start to treat you more like how you view yourself, and in accordance to how you behave.

I have grown up in one of the worse areas, but have never been arrested, I have never even been stopped or searched, or anything like that, not because I am special or lucky.

There is a difference in how I see and carry myself, whether I am wearing a shirt, or a tracksuit. I give off a certain vibe, and it shows in my conduct.

Guys, in 2015 and beyond, can we decide and agree that no matter what obstacles we face, we will focus more on how we are going to tackle them, on providing better solutions, and on letting our actions and results speak?

Have a happy and prosperous new year.

Feel free to ‘recommend’ this post, and share if you think that others may benefit from reading it. You can also give me a shout on twitter, I promise not to bite:@LesliePoku

First response post about the viral photo:

Huffington post article on the viral photo:

Dream Nation Website:

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