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Black Card: Be Wary If a Naked Person Offers a Shirt

Our Landscape Has Been Inundated with Ineffective DEI Checklisters

Big Mama never fails! Her wisdom transcends time. Lucille “Big Mama” Allen’s birth in 1906 sparked a faith driven wisdom trail within the family. She created a process of self-awareness, self-examination and spiritual alignment for all of her children.

She also once stated to me after I bought something via the mail from a magazine ad that did not look like its picture.

She quoted Maya Angelou, “Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” I learned that I had to examine the credibility of the source, the reputation of the product and the entire relevance of the offering.

Let’s examine this African proverb in terms of the new DEI movement across the country and in other global spaces and platform. The proverb says, “Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

I flip that to expand to this statement. It’s easy to talk the talk and give advice on how things should be done. But if the person giving the advice does not act in a way that agrees with the advice they are giving, the proverb implies that a person should back up their talking with action.

In the DEI movement sparked by the global impact of the death of George Floyd, where we are giving ourselves a self-examination of “equity” and “belonging” in our organizations.

Yet here is the issue. A lot of the green lighted programs are led by individuals that do not have the appropriate competency to execute and establish a presence of equity and belonging.

In other words, the purveyors of DEI do not have any ‘skin- the-game” and the DEI process is mired in House Negro and Field Negro situations. The Malcolm X definition of the “field vs house’ process is hard to identify, measure and diffuse.

It is dipped in an ineffective process fails to ensure that a person of color is competent to achieve DEI goals. The icon- ic Dr. Claud Anderson called it meritorious manumission – a process where enslaved people of color received favor when they reported other enslaved people who they felt were a threat to the process and/or they were not aligned with their oppression.

I have received numerous emails and calls daily, where employees have been blocked and dismissed by appointed DEI team leaders as they are being minimized for no reasons other than at the discretion of the DEI appointed leadership.

I have gotten examples where the DEI group leaders and allys began a series of actions like visibly not speaking, blocking any participation, creating new rules that were spearheaded to minimize targeted employees and scrutinizing their every action with a parent-like scorn.

All of this undermines the DEI movement. So, we now are seeing a failure of authenticity. There are three key reasons why DEI initiatives fail: failure to explicitly connect DEI objectives to the organization’s merit system, branding and values; lack of sustainable power from C-suite leadership; and absence of a cohesive competency in the staff charged with integrating DEI into all aspects of the business.

Self-hatred is real as people are being minimized by their own. Big Mama also said “ sometimes you have to D.U.C.K” Dodge Unhealed Coworkers Kindly. Thanks Big Mama!

Terry Allen is an award-winning media professional, journalist, and entrepreneur. He is also the founder of City Men Cook and 1016 Media. Reach him at

Written By

Terry Allen is an award-winning media professional, journalist, and entrepreneur. He is also the founder of City Men Cook and 1016 Media. Reach him at


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