The recent events regarding the Michael Brown shooting and protests in Missouri prompted me to think about how different cultural groups interact and the lack of ethnic diversity in the mediation profession. It also made me think about:
- What role does ethnic diversity play in my life?
- What have my experiences been?
At one point in my life, I was an employee of a large company, whose president was an African American. I saw first hand how non-African American employees were discriminated against and not promoted while less qualified African American employees, with little experience, were promoted.
In retrospect, I believe discrimination has little to do with being Caucasian or African American – or Asian or Muslim or Hispanic – and more to do with abuse of power. The group in charge supports and promotes their own.
As a mediator, I’m happy to say, that my clients are from all ethnic backgrounds. Just in the past few months, I had a couple originally from the Middle East, a couple from South America, another from Italy, and one from Germany. While their backgrounds were certainly very different, the issues were not. If I closed my eyes and disregarded the accents, they had the same problems and issues as any American couple.
Most of these cultures value mediation. They see mediation as a very important part of settling disputes.
Interestingly, I noticed when attending mediation trainings and conferences, I do not see a mediation community population that is representative of the various cultures. So why aren’t there more ethnically diverse mediators?
I think ethnic diversity in mediation is important, and I encourage people from other cultures to see the value in becoming a mediator.
Why do you think that there aren’t more mediators from various cultural groups in New York? What can the mediation community do to try to bring diversity into our profession?