Thursday, May 15, 2008

discrimination alive and well

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.



Anonymous said...

As a woman of color I can attest to the fact that there is still a long way for us to go here in the United States. I have personally experienced racism in my life, but I try to ignore it. I try to bridge the gap between races. I like to think when people get to know me maybe I will change their perception of people of color. I hate the fact that so many people blanket-statement races. And It is sad that in the youth group that me and my husband (who happens to be white) run we have to battle against ugly racist or insensitive comments frequently. I was raised Muslim as a young girl. My parents decided that they didn't want to be Christians because so many of the people who claimed Christianity were so ugly towards minorities. This is just another thing that must be overcome before Christians can change their reputation to the world.

billy said...

Thanks "anonymous" for sharing on such a sensitive and personal issue...I really appreciated your honesty and am sorry for the struggles that you've faced...the reality is indeed sobering, but we're hoping that together we can begin to turn the corner...Obama's success in the Democratic primaries is one very encouraging sign to me...hopefully we can continue that trend....keep going....

PFVan said...

" 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."

Yes -- racism is a significant part of American life, but your above statement is completely ignorant of American history. Obama's nomination is a case in point that we have come a long way -- an incredible distance -- while still pointing to the fact that we have a further journey to travel. A nominating battle between an African-American male and a woman of any color would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. Not celebrating past and present gains in America's culture leaves us with no vision to see a path toward a brighter future. While I appreciate your concerns for justice, I am dismayed at your failure to understand the historic achievements that are manifest in Obama's candidacy.

apostlesloveme said...

Discrimination is at least gender and race neutral. Thankfully Christ sees no one differently. We are all preconcieved with our belief systems and often have to work daily to break them down within ourselves. I notice immediately if a person of any color other than cream walks into my church. Should our church be judged? no. I realize that people worship best in a environment that may understand their needs. Do I like it? no. but it is what it is. We are who we are. Intentionality should be a goal but at the moment we struggle to recreate our missional focus. God will direct and prevail thankfully. I have struggled with the concept of blended worshipping but I can't make people come. Just invite. Over and over again. Thanks :)