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Building Inclusionby Eliminating Exclusion

More than two decades ago the USHCA hosted one of its first national conferences in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The conference theme was “Building Inclusion by Eliminating Exclusion”.

This event was planned by and attended by individuals from various walks of life representing multi-nationalities and ethnicities. Everywhere one looked you would see men and women of various Hispanic heritages, friends, members and colleagues of African American and Asian descent, as well those from the Caucasian community. The USHCA was built upon the foundation of inclusiveness and has provided support to those requesting our assistance.

The conference theme from decades ago could not be more applicable today than it was then. The difference between “then” and “now” is stark, as well as deeply saddening. “Then”, irrespective of the color of our skin or individual ethnicities, we banned together to work towards inclusion. “Now” we use those differences to rally against one another. To defend one’s right for inclusion does not necessitate one to demean another’s right for the same thing.

We grapple with the mindset that has created an environment where one socio-diverse group perceives their path to inclusion is at the expense of another’s. Remember the days when siblings were squabbling and your mother asked, “why can’t you all get along”? We ask ourselves that question today as well.

The advancements made to building inclusion by eliminating exclusion have reversed by decades with this current “me/mine” OR “yours” attitude. Decades ago, we realized we should not be fighting against one another for that last cookie crumb, but working together for a larger share of the cookie itself.

Everyone deserves a fair and equitable opportunity. While such opportunities should not be hindered by our diversity, it also should not be awarded strictly because of our diversity. Our merit is found in the skills, expertise, capability and knowledge we have accumulated in ourselves. To expect or demand one socio-diverse group take precedence over another, does nothing to advance the rights of all to have fair and equal, capability-based access to opportunity.

Perhaps, it is time we listen to our mother’s sage advice to sit down and find that common ground again, so we can “all get along”. We are stronger in numbers, than we are alone.


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