By Wayne Ford, Community Advocate

“We must learn how to live together…or perish as fools.”

    – Martin Luther King

With the noteworthy events that have happened recently in Virginia, Hollywood and Washington DC related to women’s rights, black rights and human sensitivity in all respects, the tone of conversations and the future direction of our country is rooted in Washington D.C. Over the past generations, the environment in Washington has been very divisive. For all Americans, this is a teachable moment. In the history of our country, this is the moment when all equity points have come center stage at the same time.

Martin Luther King said, “We must learn how to live together…or perish as fools.” A century earlier, President Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” These words ring truer today than when these revered leaders spoke them. As Americans, we cannot miss the opportunity we have at this critical moment in time to recognize the value and significance of one another. Humanity in all its forms and variations comprises humans. Our leadership needs to capture this opportunity to unify our citizens, regardless of race, gender, or beliefs.

We are all prejudiced in some form or fashion. Each one of us needs to make mindful decisions regarding how we view the world and approach our interactions with one another. This is a pivotal point and time for diversity and inclusion.

Millennials, and members of Generation X and Y, have seen enough discord that they are beginning to lay the foundation for making the world color and gender blind. After the horrific shooting at a Florida high school, the young people who witnessed the politicizing of the gun control issue that resulted in the deaths of their classmates and friends reached a point when they had heard enough from adults. They chose to represent themselves and coordinated a trip to Washington to be heard. They made it clear that their voices will again be heard through the ballot boxes come election time. After the tragic killing in Ferguson, Missouri, the Black Lives Matter movement was established. Their efforts have made it clear that young black people of today think much differently than the ones that marched and protested years ago. These young voices provide hope that times are changing.

Specific to the workplace and how it will evolve, there is no doubt in my mind that one day there will be no need for equity awards or for having these types of conversations regarding inclusiveness. I truly believe that equity from all perspectives will become a common denominator for future generations. It is time to let the younger generations elevate our expectations for how to lead and cultivate mutual respect for one another. With their vision for the future, we are poised to move beyond stereotypes and discrimination. We need to treat all humans as humans.

Wayne Ford

Wayne Ford

A pioneering Iowa elected official and nonprofit leader who has dedicated his life to improving the lives of Iowa’s diverse population. An Iowa State Representative from 1996 to 2010.