This was while I was counseling him after a white manager treated him poorly. He thought it was because he was black and that the manager was prejudiced. They had argued.
After all, I'm a typical looking old white bread American. So how would I have the experience to counsel him on the subject? Fair enough.
And he even seemed shocked when I agreed that he might be right. After all - just because I'm white doesn't mean I'll side with a prejudiced manager. Whatever his color.
I shared some of my personal experiences with discrimination. When I worked in Miami, Florida back in the Eighties there was large Spanish speaking population. And I loved the territory I was given because I speak Spanish - but as spoken in California and Mexico. But what I didn't know is that most Cubans at that time disliked Mexicans because their government sided with Fidel Castro. Once I learned that, I spoke mostly English in public because it would've taken too long to learn a Cuban accent.
And I've had many other experiences with racism and discrimination - both in an out of prison. Plus all of my children are multi-ethnic.
He was more accepting of my advice after I filled him in on my personal history.
But what he'll eventually learn - if he's patient - is that prejudice is more about ignorance and fear than it is about color.
In any event we tolerate none of it in our program. What we do encourage is love, compassion, openess and understanding. Life works very will without any extra seeds of negativity