Can Immigrants and Minorities Work Together? – by Deborah Levine

Dr. Fiona Citkin urges minorities and immigrants to work together to bring meaningful, positive change in the U.S. in her Huffington Post article, “Immigrants and Minorities of America, Unite!” Yes, there are many benefits to bringing minorities and immigrants together, but there are also numerous pushes & pulls involved in uniting them, in establishing their local-global connection. I have long maintained that “Harmonize NOT Homogenize” is key to our working together, but today’s highly emotional environment makes even this approach difficult.

Minorities often object to the inclusive term “multicultural” when referring to minorities because it waters down their distinctiveness. Yet, when distinct lines are drawn, the results may be more conflict, not less. For example: there is an increasing awareness that the public differentiates between immigrants (unwanted) & expats (admired). To add further complexity, some in the Caucasian are asking for increased diversity, while others fear for their future in a world where they’re becoming a demographic minority.

A common theme among diverse groups is the push for meaningful inclusion in the workplace, in the economy. We can learn much from the strategies of forward-thinking professionals in recruitment, training, and community outreach. The term “Inclusion” has become part of “Diversity”, abbreviated as “D&I” or replacing “Diversity altogether. Note that the term “Multicultural Marketing” still thrives, demonstrating that expanding markets to new cultural communities is vital to staying alive in business.

These professionals understand that the successful economy of the future must overcome a disjointed and fractured economy punctuated by smaller, separate, and often unequal economies. A viable connection between immigrants and minorities would boost their efforts substantially and trickle down into education at the earliest levels. However, such a connection, along with a social environment that supports it, requires a different mind set and skill set to maximize the potential and minimize the conflict inherent in cross-cultural initiatives.

We must first create a new mental infrastructure for digesting, analyzing, and deploying multidimensional thinking and skills. In recent years, many are attempting to do just that. My own attempts to do so resulted in the Matrix Model Management System: Guide to Cross-Cultural Wisdom. The System combines cultural awareness & competence, conflict & comfort management, wise decision-making, and hands-on exercises in cross-cultural communication.

Will we embrace or reject the need to re-create ourselves, our cultural communities, and our social environment?  Not everyone has the vision, the will, or the opportunity to become a multidimensional futurist. For those who can and do, it remains a huge task. Yet, leaders in the field are emerging continuously creating new paradigms in discreet pieces. The Immigrant-Minorities connection may be the next piece of the puzzle.

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