I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of “diversity training…” What exactly is the expected outcome for people with that certain affliction, which they continually use to afflict those they perceive to be socially vulnerable?
Each time there’s another egregious white-perpetrated, anti-Black [people, particularly male] incident in the news, words like “diversity… racial sensitivity… training… anti-bias” and other hackneyed terms along those lines get tossed around in the media, becoming the flavour of the moment—for a day or three—then evaporate.
That recent racially tainted incident at that Starbucks store in Philadelphia was just another of those recurring, what I’ll call ‘racial events’, that grabbed public attention. And as they say in social media, “It went viral.”
Full disclosure: I have never been to Starbucks or any of those coffee outlets; I like my home brew… and everything else domestically made. It just tastes, and goes down, better.
There they were, two young ambitious Black men looking to advance their business careers, and waiting at a Starbucks restaurant to discuss business with a third party. In keeping with established business protocol, as someone explained in a radio interview, they chose to wait for the contact to arrive before ordering. But, the innate racial bias of the manager of the establishment got the better of her, so she decided to call the police to deal with the problem: two Black guys whom she assumed/concluded were just loitering (maybe more deeply in her learned behaviour and psyche she even thought they were drug dealers).
That manager never thought her action would’ve generated such a national and international reaction by people of goodwill. After all, they’re just a couple Black guys loitering, killing time… so call the police to do their job: “Protect and Serve” – the good customers, paying customers that is.
Well, the story was all over the media. If you didn’t read or hear about it, then you’re existing under a rock, or going about your daily life in that proverbial ostrich position (all due respect to the ostrich).
On a local radio station that opened the microphone to the public to gauge reaction to the Philadelphia story, a white male caller questioned why those “[…] two Black men think they should’ve been treated “differently.]”
He was argumentative with the host; I could sense the venom in his tone… “The Starbucks manager was right [to do what he did.”
That term “implicit bias” in relation to the Starbucks incident resonated throughout the course of various radio and TV discussions around the issue.
Now, I don’t understand why that man thought those “brothers” were looking for special treatment… from whom? On the contrary, they were being mistreated. Embarrassed? No.
Watching the television news of them been handcuffed and then escorted by the police out of that coffee joint that day, was truly something to take notice of; they were as calm and relaxed as one would expect… at least as I hoped they would be.
You see they had a predominantly white crowd in that establishment who I assume were enjoying their ‘whatever’ that day on their side. By being cooperative, dignified, they were making a stand. Their thinking was… we’re innocent, so why protest, be argumentative…?
Oh yes, to young Black men out there, for whatever its worth, there’s a lesson to be learned from that Starbucks incident. You saw the video, but just to reiterate: those young men didn’t fuss with the police. They were collected, calm and cool… they knew they hadn’t done anything wrong, illegal. No fussing or cussing necessary. Furthermore, the ubiquitous cell phones were turned on; they were cooperating with the police.
All in all it was a serendipitous moment, with lessons for people on both sides of that racial… racist schism to learn from.
[And to you, Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Mr. Richard Ross, I don’t know if you met with those two men to discuss the incident, but I watched you offer a deep, seemingly sincere, profuse public apology.
And then, as usual there was that trite suggestion, about “having a national discussion…” on how police and businesses treat African-Americans… blah, blah…]
Commissioner, with all due respect, you too must be fed up with that “national conversation” nonsense.
That said you’re in the policing business, so once your people got the call from that Starbucks joint, officers were dispatched. The rest is history.
By the way, Commissioner, I don’t know if you saw that movie, BOYZ IN THE HOOD. I saw it a time or three.
In light of the recent Starbucks incident I decided to go on-line to see how people were reacting, and came across another story dated March 22, 2015 headlined, “Starbucks pulls plug on effort to solve racism in America.”
I saw no reason to read any more; the headline was the story.
As if to say, there were other anti-racist… initiatives undertaken in the past but the company just gave up. Americans love their history and culture of racism
as much as they do their hate, coffee, guns… So that Starbucks (anti-) event scheduled for next month will just be another anti-racism dud.
The problem is this: whenever there’s another incident fraught with incipient, egregious anti-Black racial overtones, Black people are invariably forced to react. Conditioning… No reason to stop now. And people of conscience, of every stripe… will continue to do the right thing because… Let the haters cleanse themselves…
In adding his voice to the civil rights mix in the 1960s during America’s socio-racial maelstrom, Sam Cooke crooned in his seminal civil rights song that has stood the test of time, and remains as relevant as ever, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
We’ve seen change, but just watch… listen to the news and understand that “change” to the established social construct (as we’ve come to know and experience) must be continuous. The 1960s mentality and social realities of the day that inspired Sam Cooke are still institutionally and racially embedded.
But amidst the harsh, racist conditions of the day, Sam Cooke was hopeful: “I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will…”
Problem is, as we wend our way towards the first quarter of this 21st century, as far as some historical issues go, the old adage comes to mind: “the more things change…”
Just give a careful listen – again – to Sam Cooke’s seminal song, especially the lyrics; see if they still lift your spirit.
Standing against that “social construct” and all those recurring, racially tinged incidents we hear about – on either side of the 49th Parallel – is human… civil rights work in progress.
And those people who want to change will, but I surely won’t be doing any of that diversity training… Better things to do. So, as one Michael Jackson once sang, Just leave me alone.