When I was single, I walked into the bank one day and saw this beautiful teller sitting behind the counter and over the next several weeks I devised a way to first talk to her. I was hoping that talking to her would lead to getting to know her, and getting to know her would lead to dating her.
After reading the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I was trying to figure out how I would make my first million dollars, so I took the author’s advice. I contacted a successful real estate investor and I asked him if we could meet for coffee. I again was hoping we could talk and that would lead to a friendship and that friendship would lead to me learning more about something that could help support me some day.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a part of a panel discussion entitled, “Race and the Church.” I was excited because I was going to be working with a local pastor, Steve Anthony, whom I really respect and admire because he is passionate, knowledgeable and open about improving race relations. I, myself am always eager to talk about and learn how the races can work better at coexisting ,so I was more than happy to be a part of the panel.
During the three hour discussion, Pastor Anthony shared with us, what he calls; THE INTENTIONAL MODEL. As he went through and explained it, it was like a 1500 watt light went off in my small head. Pastor had put in to words an idea I had been chewing on for this, my next blog.
This discussion about race and the church took place a few days after I wrote my last blog about having a Cultural Connection Plan(CCP)and I was trying to figure out how I could move from this concept of a CCP to action. I strongly feel this is such a vital concept that I wanted to follow it up with more meat, more concrete instruction as to how to connect children with their culture and more specifically how to go about it. Then Pastor gave me the model below; an action plan to walk out the Cultural Connection Plan.
The Intentional Model has 5 steps and each step builds on the last.
The first step is INTRODUCTION. This is simply where you step out of your comfort zone and meet someone from the same culture as your child. This is probably the toughest step because it often means sticking your neck out with no guarantee it won’t get cut off. It means intentionally approaching someone and introducing yourself and hoping your neck is welcomed with a hug and not a sharp blade.
The second step is INTRIGUE. It means asking general questions showing genuine intrigue and interest. If the introduction goes well this step isn’t as scary but it still means you have to take a chance. In this step it may mean simply asking for help and assistance with hair care or skin care for example.
The third step comes as the relationship develops. As you become more comfortable, you proceed to next step which is INTERVIEW. You move into more in-depth conversation as you work to get to know the person and ask questions to learn more about them. You also open yourself up to answer questions to share more about you.
The forth step is INCLUSION. Again, as the relationship grows you begin to include them more in your life and they do as well. Your families spend time together at each others homes and a true friendship is formed.
The fifth and final step is INTERDEPENDENCE. Now you have gained trust in each other and are dependent on each other. Your family now becomes a multicultural family and not only a family with a child/children of color.
I am aware this will not work with everyone you meet and many attempts will not make it past the introduction, but the important thing is to remember to keep trying. If you don’t connect with that person maybe they can put you in touch with someone who you do connect with or a group of people or organization. You are always one contact away from establishing this desired result.
Some will also argue that you are just using these people because they are Black, Asian, Ethiopian etc. and that makes them uncomfortable. My response is simple. We do it all the time.
I approached that teller because I wanted to date her. I approached that real estate investor because he had knowledge that I wanted. That teller became my wife whom I have known for 20 years and have two children with. The real estate investor has become a good friend who loves to share what he knows and is a deep well of knowledge, experience and advice. I intentionally approached these two people and the results were worth far more than the risks.
To provide this connection for your child AND your family it is worth getting your neck cut a few times, don’t you think?