Our Articles

Lead and Grow with Fortitude

Magnetic North—True North

In my experience, discussions concerning race, gender, ethnicity or culture tend to settle on, what many consider, the obvious. The discussion moves like a compass needle seeking magnetic north. In reality, every true navigator worth their salt is going to adjust for error. The conversation concerning race is void true navigators.

The obvious “north” black culture is________ fill in the blank; “white” culture is________ fill in the blank. And, of course, it is these differences that are causing problems and generate the issues we have seen playing out in the media. Right? It’s not that easy.

The reality is surprising. I would offer that it is behavior that is at the core. Behavior is a function not so much of an obvious culture, the culture we see, black people act this way; white people act that way but of subcultures. There exist a vast number of subcultures e.g. religion, club or organizational affiliations. These are cultures we do not see, and each impacts behavior. Particularly worthy of note, there is no greater impact on behavior than belonging to a subculture of poverty.

Subcultures cut across race, gender, and ethnicity. The subculture of poverty drives language. It drives interactions between peoples. It drives how money, food, and the police, are viewed.

It is the one subculture that is universal in its behavior.

True navigators look for error. It is an error that all Black Americans behave the same or all White Americans behave the same. In short, middle-class Black and White Americans have more in common with each other, read behaviors, than with Black or White Americans at the poverty economic level. I could go on, but I need to keep this short.

I have had this conversation with a number of people; it is a conversation that will give one a headache. Headaches are needed. The short, simple “it’s racial” response is too easy. It is not acceptable. We, all of us, regardless of race, who want to make a difference not just headlines, will engage in this sort of conversation.

It is a difficult conversation. Navigating the ocean without GPS is difficult. It requires a navigator who understands there is magnetic north and true north. You have to take the error out.

© 2015 by John Boggs all rights reserved.