Mike Colter on Bridging the Divide and Promoting Diversity
Advocacy Best known for his superhero turn as Luke Cage on Netflix’s eponymous hit show, Mike Colter is no stranger to adversity — or success.
People of visible minority tend to have their guard up. Or so says Mike Colter.
“Expecting the worst, unfortunately, is what [we] have grown up with,” he explains. “But instead of expecting prejudice and using your energy on something that doesn’t serve you, focus on yourself and what you can control. Focus your on being better than everyone else. Rise above it all.”
These days, there are boxes to check: black, Asian, gay, black. Because Corporate America has no such boxes of its own to check, it can — and all too often does — neglect prioritizing qualifications and skills.
Giving people a chance
On this matter, Colter cites the NFL’s Rooney Rule where teams are required to interview minority candidates for head coach and senior operations jobs. Though there is no quota to fill. It simply mandates minorities must be given a chance to prove they are just as qualified as their colleagues.
'“Focus your on being better than everyone else. Rise above it all.”'
“Make sure you give people an opportunity,” the actor contends. “They might surprise you, they might wow you, they might completely blow your drawers off. But you’ve got to give them a chance first.”
The topic of diversity, adversity and inclusion is not an easy conversation in today’s politically correct climate. Be open to talking about it, and don’t judge based on what you see. Ask questions — “buck the trend,” as Colter puts it — and remember: we are all one people, and we are all just trying to fit in.
How heroes help
It’s important for minorities in leadership roles, whether in the entertainment industry like Colter, in executive positions in corporate America, or in other positions of power and influence, to give back to and support the next generation of minorities.
For Colter, it’s not about the money. He recalls a time when he was younger and people he admired gave him some of their time. Not only did it leave a huge impact — it made a younger Colter feel like he wasn’t alone and that he did have potential to achieve his dreams. And that, he says, can be far more powerful than all the money in the world.