this week i had the opportunity to sit through a seminar at university of kentucky about race and color discrimination in the workplace. it is an initiative hosted by the federal agency, u.s. equal employment opportunity commission, called E-RACE (eradicating racism and colorism from employment).
the report was disturbing and discouraging. most of us would believe, with hope and optimism, that we've progressed since the time of civil rights in the 60s and made great gains in the area of race in this country (although the national democratic primary is exposing otherwise). the statistics given demonstrated the opposite. last year they had 45,000 discrimination cases reported. by the same time this year, there were 72,000. discrimination based on race, color and gender is on the rise.
the speaker testified to case after federal case against major, well-known corporations that were found guilty of egregious acts of discrimination. in one case against Target, a woman of color had submitted an application. her name was kalisha white. the hiring manager was completely unresponsive to her calls and when she finally got a hold of him, he claimed he was "too busy" to set up an interview. she revised her application by changing her name to sarah brucker and putting a new address from a different part of town,a nice suburb. the manager called the next day, ready to schedule an interview immediately. she then called back the same day as kalisha only to be told he was "too busy." finally, she had a white friend call right away and ask for an interview which this man granted on the spot. needless to say, kalisha and a few others won a major suit. of course money does very little to restore dignity.
how unfortunate, in 2008 in the united states, people of color and women are repeatedly subjected to prejudice and inequity in the workplace. i was glad to know there is a federal agency advocating and educating for change. more than anything, as a christian, i felt that this is the kind of thing i need to be aware of and out of my awareness, take responsibility to live in the light of the gospel that embraces, welcomes and includes.