Be Careful, Someone May Think You Like Me

Professional outcasts and how we respond.

Throughout history there have been groups of people that are outcasts. It occurs for many reasons, but what I am most interested in is the emotional and spiritual response of those who encounter them and their ensuing aversion.

Human responses to outcasts are brought on by thoughts and feelings like, “I might catch their disease” in the case of the sick. Others might come from fears of potentially dangerous actions, because of personal disabilities or perceived mental illness. Such as the homeless or disenfranchised folks on the street corner looking for handouts. How many of us have walked by these people with fear and discontent? There are too many groups to name whom we avoid association.

I now have personal experience being part of a traditionally outcast group, that being those with a criminal conviction. My guess is that all the justice impacted feel disparaged, but I can best speak from the position of a White-Collar justice impacted individual.

I have stated in previous blogs the multitude of reasons that society “frowns upon” on White Collar crime and its perpetrators. But to be more specific, because it’s considered that our crimes must have been carefully planned over a longer period, with the specific intent to deprive others of their hard-earned money. The result seems to be that any association with us is a dangerous endeavor.

For example, regarding people I have known for many years, worked with, were friends, and respected my mission before my conviction. When I release a blog and/or social media outreach to endorse Fair Chance employment awareness or compassion for the challenges we face, my former colleagues and close friends rarely engage to support.

I do not wish to exemplify anger or disappointment in them. I am sure that I disassociated myself from many, in my previous life, for the same concerns. Those being, “If I like/share her/his LinkedIn post, others might think I approve of their criminal behavior”. “Her/His name is tarnished in our industry, I can’t associate with her/him publicly”. “I thought I knew her/him and thought I could trust them; this conviction confuses me as to who they really are”.

All are understandable responses and the events that led to our crime are still confusing and not easy to understand ourselves.

On this side of the fence, we must create a whole new identity and connect with additional, like-minded colleagues as our vessel of trust is downright empty. It has taken a lot of getting used to that my voice is no longer part of the professional conversation of education reform that I care so deeply about. I have attempted to take micro steps to refill the vessel and join the dialogue, but it is proving to be a long, difficult road.

So, should we be surprised when many former colleagues and friends drop us like flies and dissassociate from us publicly? Or should we be shocked when those who promise to bring our stories forward and spotlight our challenges as humans, don’t follow through?

We shouldn’t be surprised, it’s too professionally dangerous to associate with us. Therefore, we are still waiting for a writer, politician, or professional leader to truly listen to the White-Collar Justice Impacted Community (WCJIC) and step out as, not only a colleauge behind our mission, but a proud friend.

For those of you who read my blogs and social media outreach and are behind my mission, I thank you. But be careful, if you endorse it, someone may think you like me.

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