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Jan Johnston Osburn
Jan Johnston Osburn Mogul Influencer | Career & Life Coach | Helping People Turn Dreams into Realities
10mo Washington, DC, United States Story
Has the Dream Become the Reality?

I grew up a rural town, 98.9 % white, but I wasn't exposed to much racism as a child. I grew up thinking that racism, sexism, etc. was a thing of the past. I thought it was history, something that I saw on T.V.

Did I mention that I was naïve?

I loved listening to the stories that my grandmother shared about her life. My grandmother was born in 1897. Knowing someone who was born in the 1800s was almost too much to fathom. So the stories she told me felt like they were an era long passed.

Her gender stories were always interesting. She told me that men had the luxury of eating dinner first at large gatherings. She’d joke that the women would eat “whatever was left” but I sensed there was more truth to that than a joke. Women would also eat in the kitchen and not at the dining table if the men were still sitting around talking.

What? I was appalled! How could that be? My grandmother, about 4’11” and 95 pounds, was a spirited woman and by all accounts independent. It was hard to imagine that she bought into these archaic notions at any point in her life but I guess she did.

And then there was college. When I went away to college, my secluded, cloistered world was being chipped away a bit at time. I had more than a few eye-openers when it came to societal issues.

My Social Work classes were amazing and afforded me the greatest level of diversity that I had ever known at this time. My professors were White, Black, Asian, Gay, male, female, older, younger, and of varying religions. One professor, who was Jewish, recalled some of the situations she had encountered in her life, all because she was Jewish.

Again, I was flabbergasted. Discriminated against because you were Jewish? It made no sense to me. I simply didn’t know there was a world where people cared about someone being Jewish.

Did I mention I was naïve?

And then there was the time I took a Black History class. There were two white kids in the class and I was one of them. Odd, I thought, as I walked into the classroom the first time. Then again, the class was held from 7–10 on Thursday evening. I don’t know what happens now but Thursdays were prime drinkin’ time back then.

“Why Are You Taking This Class?”

On that first night of class, the Professor asked us to introduce ourselves. He also asked a simple question. The question was, “Why are you taking this class?”

“I need a history credit.” I said.

Silence. Awkward silence. The look on his face when I said that. The displeasure.

What had I done? What had I said? I wasn’t sure but I knew what I said was wrong.

So as I sat through class I realized how I must have come across. I was the white girl who needed a history credit. I wasn’t there to learn but rather to benefit from the credits I needed to graduate.

I didn’t articulate my thoughts well.

The truth was this that I did need one last history credit and this was the history class I wanted to take – even at the risk of missing out on my Thursday night bar hopping and all of those great drink specials.

I never felt like I overcame that stigma in the class. It did and still continues to bother me because I knew that I was perceived to be something that I was not. Could not have been further from the truth but it didn’t matter.

I was branded. It hurt. And, it still does.

If only we could look inside of someone’s soul instead of making assumptions based upon what we see visually.

And, here we are… 2017

There’s been a lot that has happened the past couple of years. Last year felt particularly turbulent and sometimes it doesn’t seem like we are any closer to equality than we were all of those years ago.

It’s overwhelming at times. But here we are . . .

So instead of me being that delightfully naïve little girl, maybe I’m the naïve older woman now.

Intrinsically, I still believe that we have more great people in the world than we do idiots. I see it in action every day. But we must be careful about branding someone simply based upon assumptions.

A Color-blind World?

I don’t believe in living in a color-blind world. How boring that would be. We should embrace and enjoy all of the uniqueness that we all have to offer. We can’t be afraid to recognize the differences, inquire about the differences, and appreciate and utilize what that means to the population as a whole.

The Table of Brotherhood

Martin Luther King spoke of the Table of Brotherhood and oh how we need to have a divine feast sitting around that table as we get to know each other and what lies beneath our physical appearance.

That is my dream. I still believe. I still believe in Martin Luther King’s dream.

Nothing ever stops the chills when I read these words…

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

Happy Martin Luther King Day. May you have a table of brotherhood.

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  • Erin Avers
    10mo ago

    My hopes are for a positive 2017. I am weary and a bit nervous with the transition of power but I remain hopeful.

    My hopes are for a positive 2017. I am weary and a bit nervous with the transition of power but I remain hopeful.

    • Jan Johnston Osburn
      Jan Johnston Osburn Mogul Influencer | Career & Life Coach | Helping People Turn Dreams into Realities
      10mo ago

      Same here, Erin.

      Same here, Erin.

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Jan Johnston Osburn
Mogul Influencer | Career & Life Coach | Helping People Turn Dreams into Realities

Johnston Osburn is a Career and Life Coach who helps people turn dreams into realities. After years as a Global Talent Acquisition Professional, she realized how frequently people limit themselves because they lack belief in their abilities. They are afraid to dream, let alone dream big. [...]

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