Reflections on how I learned from that experience and have applied diversity to my businesses ever since
Seeing the horrific George Floyd incident and the related protests, mayhem, and looting is bringing back a flood of emotions and memories.
Back on August 28, 1989, I was driving home from the East Side to my home by Lorenzi Park. I had just watched Blue Oyster Cult at Calamity Janes and they had put on an awesome show. I was an Italian 25-year-old still pretty new to Las Vegas driving my Blue T-top Camaro home on a hot summer night. I was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, but that night I made a critical mistake.
As the officer approached my car, I reached down to slide my seat back, and the officer did something I will never forget. In a flash, he pulled out his gun, levelled it at my face, and pushed the hard steel into my nose. He angrily demanded that I put my hands back on the steering wheel, slowly. The way he spoke was shocking. It was at complete odds with the way I mentally viewed how police/citizen relationships should work.
He seemed angry. This changed me forever. I never forgot the feeling of a muzzle, not just pointed in my face, but mushed up against my nose. I never forgot that this human, in the blink of an eye, suddenly held my life in his hands.
I had grown up in suburban New York and always had a naïve view of law enforcement; they were all good guys back home. Here in Las Vegas it was different. I recognize now that the officer was probably scared, I drove a slick car, my dark complexion, and we were on the east side of town.
Running Solutions Recovery and American Addiction Centers of Nevada helped me realize how vulnerable and how challenged, every one of us is. Social media and the media try to portray this community of model normal citizens, but it portrays an image which is not true. Every one of us has traumatic incidents; many of us have mental and physical impairments. Most of us struggle in some way every day.
Being a CEO of an insurance company and several health care facilities shifts my perspective to solutions focused responses. Derek Chauvin is the officer that is now accused of murdering George Floyd. In this country we can rest assured that there will be a trial and we all pray that justice will be served.
The question is what can we do about it? Outrage over this horrific incident is justified. Turning over and burning police cars is not the way to focus our outrage.
As individuals we all have prejudices ingrained in ourselves. Hopefully each of us is still learning and hopefully each of us will question and then challenge any attempt to exercise domination and the beliefs or practices that dominate. Becoming more aware of them is a lifelong endeavour. Hopefully, one we consistently work on.
Family members and part of peer groups— when we identify hate, or prejudice, we can assertively help to educate, or at least to facilitate the dialogue.
As a professional manager/administrator I have staff that I am responsible for. I can be sure that cultural sensitivity and training occurs. I know as a licensed psychotherapist that I cannot help a client unless I am knowledgeable of cultural perspectives of the client. I know as an employer that by having a culturally diverse staff it helps make us welcoming to culturally diverse clientele. I emphasize ethnic and cultural diversity of employed and contracted teammates.
God forbid we identify hateful or troubled employees, but if we do, it is our job as supervisors to see that they get help or training to address these issues, or we separate from them hopefully facilitating some more abrupt self-awareness and change.
We are all vulnerable; we need to all help each other. God bless.
By Dave Marlon, facebook.com/DaveForVegas
Dave Marlon is a recovery advocate, social activist, CEO of VegasStronger, a non-profit dedicated to helping the homeless, and Crossroads of Southern Nevada, an indigent detox and housing facility.