I have a couple of hot buttons in my life. Here's the list:
- discrimination against those different than you (for any reason)
- violence against women and children
Racism gets two votes because not only is it one of the most cowardly and disgusting belief systems I've ever encountered; but it also goes against the very core of what being a decent human being is all about.
Are you with me so far?
Racism Is Not A Card Game
One of the phrases I hear over and over has to do with one's ability to "play" some sort of mysterious "race card."
It seems to me that each time this phrase is used it is by someone who is trying to attack a minority for raising a legitimate issue; but God forbid it has something to do with racism. We certainly can't talk about that! Right?
"Would someone please explain to me why we aren't comfortable talking about racism for what it is; and instead feel the need to deflect our inability to confront the bigots among us and degrade the issue to a common game of cards?"
What the hell is going on here? Avoidance, that's what. Fear of speaking the truth, that's what. The inability to step up and confront racism when its staring us in the face, that's what. Whose job is it to step up anyway? In your work life human resources leadership better be ready to drop the gloves instantly.
We all have options. Some of them are easy. The easiest one is called silence. Silence equals endorsement. Silence means you are actively supporting racism.
Silence means you are now the racist. How does that sound in your head?
We have another option too. We can do something. We can stop the bigots in their tracks and expose them for the foolish, evil, radicals they are. All we have to do is speak up. You see once we raise our voice two things immediately happen:
- everyone will know exactly what you stand for
- everyone will know exactly what the racist stands for
Are you still with me?
How About You
Stop playing cards. Start confronting racism. If you're not sure what to do, call me and I'll help. It can be scary when you're the only one in the room doing the right thing. I know. But in the words of Dr. King: "the time is always right, to do what's right."
I'd love to hear from you.
Jay - excellent post. Nice message - no punches pulled either. Great point on the silent endorsement message. This is a huge issue prevalent across far too many organizations and I personally can't stand it when I hear people say things like, "well, it isn't as big an issue as it used to be..right" Tell that one to the person who is being discriminated against.ReplyDelete
Just wanted to thank you for the post..seems like something recent might have triggered some raw emotion here for you but it was great to see it in your blog post. Take care Jay.
Thanks Scott. Nothing triggered the post...just started thinkging about what really gets me angry, and racism is a huge issue for me (and many others obviously.)Delete
Thanks for the comment!
Couldn't agree with this more! Racism unleashes a fire within me and is a particularly sensitive topic now I am in an interracial relationship - talk about a way to learn about white privilege which I was previously oblivious to!ReplyDelete
One of the great benefits I have found from working in a reputable brand is the ability to bring up reputation without coming across as confrontational. I.e. "I don't think someone's race is the sort of criteria we can use at this organisation, can we move the conversation onto the selection criteria?" It's nice to not always be policing from personal ethics, but because it's my job to protect a brand.
Many thanks for sharing your perspective Sarah. You're clearly seeing a side of this issue that many of us do not, and kudos to you for speaking up!Delete
Thanks for the comment!
Jay, very nicely said! Racism like all other "isms" limits all of us. It's often hard to tackle the elephant in the room, but we can't be afraid to shine a light on behavior that is discriminatory or hateful in nature. Thanks for broaching this touchy subject!ReplyDelete
Thanks for framing this under the "isms" Danyel, because you are right...there are many -isms that undermine all of us.Delete
I appreciate you taking the time to comment!
Hi Jay - and fellow commenters,ReplyDelete
This article hits the nail on the head. Silence is definitely "standing in agreement" of racism and it can't be tolerated in our communities or in our workplaces.
Businesses can demoralize staff members of all colors and ethnic backgrounds when we let racism (or any other -ism, as Danyel pointed out) go on without being checked. You don't have to be a member of the offended party to feel the offense.
We should treat racism like the TSA treats suspicious packages: "If you see something, say something."
- Joey / @JVPsaid
Many thanks for the comment Joey. Good stuff. I love this..."you don't have to be a member of the offended party to feel the offense."Delete
I appreciate you taking the time to comment!
To be fair, a lot of the talk about the "Race Card" is when someone starts talking about racist action where there is none.ReplyDelete
There are those that want to paint all whites as racists. One of my son's classmates said he was a racist. When my son asked why he was told he was racist because he is white.
This is a tough position for me, to be accused of being racist due to my skin color. A good friend of mine who is black has experienced real racism. I'm sad to report that racism is still out there. I'm not blind to it. Some of the stories my buddy has told me had me seeing red. I wasn't just angry, I also couldn't believe how he could be confronted by racist attitudes in today's world. It was actually while buying a car no less, which is insane because that saleperson's attitude cost him money! Hey, look! Racism is bad for business. Who would have guessed?
However, I have been promoting diversity in organizations for awhile. Someone I respect greatly laid it out like this "The problem with technology teams is they want to hire nothing but 35 year old white guys with computer science degrees" The problem with that scenario, if you look past race, is that if everyone is the same, they make the same mistakes. Getting a different perspective in technology can be crucial to solving a problem quicker. Diversity in terms of gender, race, religion, and culture has been a boon for me. It is not about political correctness to me, it is about operating efficiency.
That said, when you have that attitude towards building teams and are called a racist for your skin color, well that gets under my skin.
I agree that racist attitudes need to be confronted. They are harmful to society as a whole and can be toxic to teams. At the same time, trying to create racists out of people who have done nothing wrong doesn't help the cause of a color-blind society.
Thanks for the thoughtful response Rob. This is one of the most complicated issues we face in society...great insights like yours..."Diversity in terms of gender, race, religion, and culture has been a boon for me"...really change the way people look at racism and diversity.Delete
Many thanks for taking the time to comment!
Hi Jay, like always you offer thought provoking words. I think we all know exactly what racism is when we see it and most do speak up when it is blatant. More people need to speak up when it is not so blatant.ReplyDelete
It's my opinion we don't have as much Racism in American as we think but in reality we have a lot of Class-ism, Upper class versus Lower class. That is the new Civil Rights war...opportunity for economic equality and what we can do to overcome. Granted every individual and/or society sector have to strive and reach for the opportunity of Economic equality and if we can like soap it will wash away the dirt, dirt like Racism.