By Kay Wilson-Bolton
April 1, 2006
Once in a while, someone puts words together in such a way that they become markers in my understanding of life’s issues and challenges.
This happened recently when a fellow REALTOR®, Julio Gomez, shared space with me at a conference on Cultural Diversity in Oxnard.
Julio has not always spoken English. He is a man of grace. He sparkles with an award-winning charm. As he struggled to learn the language and integrate into the American culture, he remembers the day that he was able to respond with a full sentence to a question for directions. He was concerned about not being able to assist the traveler, but more concerned about feeling shame.
However, he mustered his intellect and put together a sentence with profound meaning. Pointing in the right direction, Julio responded, “not very far away.”
That simple statement reflected the context of the conference conducted by Dr. Oscar Gonzales, who has an international reputation as a speaker and author on real estate trends, affordable housing, emerging markets, generational differences, consumer behavior, and business modeling and planning.
For Julio, putting those four words together was a turning point. Hearing his story was one for me too.
As a participant in numerous cultural diversity programs and committees, I am extremely sensitive to the issues that impact people groups who look to America for safety, hope and promise.
Most groups focus on the issues of “minorities”. A recent speaker at the Equal Opportunity Committee for the California Association of REALTORS® used the word “minority” in nearly every sentence. When I asked to consider that the time had come to remove that word from our vocabulary, he shot back that when the home ownership rates for minorities match those of other groups, he would stop using the word.
Refreshing progress was made last week in Ventura County. Dr. Gonzales conducted a 5-hour seminar on cultural traditions and trends, practices and preferences of a variety of population groups.
Not one time did he use the word, “minority.” It was as though the word didn’t exist and neither did the concept. It was apparent that the lack of focus on divisive words and practices drew the participants together. The topics became points of interest, and not points of difference.
I couldn’t help but think how meaningful were the words in Julio’s’ first full sentence. Since we are all on this journey together, just maybe full appreciation of people as individuals, made in the image of God, is also “not very far away.”
Kay Wilson-Bolton is the owner of CENTURY 21 Buena Vista and can be reached at 805.340.5025.