‘You are just the right colour, Lucinda’
I received a call from an American firm. Head office based in the States and their European head office based in Amsterdam. As I worked at TNT Express, I knew this company because back then we transported losts of parts for them. The name was not totally unfamiliar and I googled them while I was speaking.
They had a big awards dinner in Amsterdam and wanted me as a speaker. As their motivational speaker. I asked why they had decided that I would be the right speaker and it was because of the fact that my skin colour was just right. I was not black and I was not white and therefore I would offend nobody. I asked if there was perhaps another reason? I was hoping that it would be more than just my skin colour: )
‘But do you have humour as well?’
‘Indeed’, the woman said. ‘We made a selection of ten people worldwide but you seem to be a really good choice.’ Thank goodness I thought… not only my skin colour had now worked in my favour but there was a shortlist. ‘Well…’, she continued, ‘you do have a competitor and he is based in London. He is really good and you know with men we are always safe as well. Men and women are used to men and especially dominant men do well. He also has humour. Lucinda, do you have humour as well?’ By this time I was not quite sure what I had but my humour was gone.
I said that I would do it and she needed some additional information. What baffles me is that people speak their minds at the most crucial moments. I know that this is not how this company wants to be seen but through my eyes they have a certain colour! These American and therefore international companies have to be so correct. So painstakingly politically correct.
The right colour…
This event went to the Englishman. The woman kindly called me and thanked me for being such a sport and once more said that men never offend anybody.
Well, I shrugged my shoulders and concluded that these situations never seize to surprise me. Didn’t see this one coming. I told the story to a few people and their first reaction was: how could you ever speak at these kinds of gatherings? Well, because when I speak I make the difference that they clearly need and I have no chips of these sort on my shoulders. How could I… I am just the right colour : )