Welcome to My Point of View
"Maybe political correctness deserved to die, but in this presidential election, it seems civility and tact got caught in the cross-fire."Anonymous
Ok. So, have I mentioned before that I have spent the last ten years of my professional life serving as my company’s GM, of Diversity and CSR. No? Well, I have. In that capacity, I am always on the lookout for issues of race, gender, inclusion and discrimination that make their way into the pop culture conversation. Over the past couple of years, it seems to happen quite often and I have noticed a very disturbing trend.
You may remember a year or two ago when a professional football player likened being employed in the NFL to slavery. Now, I am no history buff, but I am quite sure that there were no slaves vying for million dollar contracts to be the best cotton picker on the plantation. Seriously? Bruh. You make millions of dollars! Shhh.
There have also been several instances where (insert celebrity) was fired or disavowed because he or she said they didn’t like black people, or may have used the “N” word, or called some girl “nappy –headed” While I get that all of these things are stupid and seem archaic for our time, I just don’t get the outrage. It is almost as if we have reduced racism in America to name calling.
All the while, there are young Black and Latino men living in fear for their lives because the police have decided at least six bullets in the back are required to stop them. They have to walk through this world with a circumspection that young white men will never know because someone who is afraid of the color of their skin might feel “threatened” and stand their ground by ending the “prone to violence” young man’s life.
Which brings me to the point of this post. The latest “outrage” as we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday this week, is the absence of black actors nominated for the Academy Awards. Do I think this is shameful? Yes. Do I think it speaks to an academy that is outdated and tone-deaf? Absolutely. Do I think it is an outrage? No. Just. No.
Every day in this country college educated black people are consistently unemployed, underemployed and underpaid because of some hiring managers’ unconscious (or in some cases fully conscious) bias. And let’s not get started on the plight of gay or lesbian people who can still be fired in many states for no other reason than their employer doesn’t agree with their sexual orientation. Or, the psychological damage being done to young women because men continue to see them as sex objects instead of complete human beings capable of living any life they can imagine.
So you will have to excuse me if I can’t get upset about a bunch of privileged holly wood actors who got their feelings hurt because they have been excluded from something. Welcome to the real world. Except in the real world, we don’t cry designer tears, just regular old salty ones.
I sat down at my desk this morning as I usually do around 9:00am and began purusing the headlines on my favorite website before beginning my day. This usually doesn't take very long becasue I am only looking for news that interests me, and most of what comes my way doesn't fit into that category. But today, I saw a headline that I have been waiting for: "Oklahoma ex-cop guilty of Rape in Sex Abuse Case."
I was surprised to see this story made it's way onto the main marquee. For the months that I have been following it, it has only appeared as a peripheral story behind important things like, "Donald Trump said something stupid...again. Leads all national polls!" or "Hey look another cops shoots an un-armed black man 17 times," or my favorites " Blah Blah Blah Kardashian Blah Blah Blah"
If you are not up to speed let me give you the gist. This police officer routinely skulked around under-served communities and preyed on women he knew couldn't or wouldn't go to the police." In other words, he raped and assaulted poor black women in poor black neighborhoods.
Now, two things struck me about this case. #1 No national out rage or outcry from the black community. None. #2 His entire defense appeared to revolve around the fact that all 17 of these women were liars because they were....well....poor and black. The jury didn't buy it and this man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison where he belongs.
It saddens me that we live in a society where things like this still happen. If I didn't know better I would have thought I was reading about something that happened in the 1950's when women were regarded as little more than property and sexual objects. Virginia Slim righteously declared in the 70's "We've come a long way baby!" But I am not so sure that is true. This police officer operated for years with impunity terrorizing vulnerable women. When the story "broke" there seemed to be very little interest. And it occurs to me, as we are about to enter 2016 that not much has changed where women are concerned. It seems that with sex, much like race in the country, we have been pretending. On the surface we hold up public examples of policies and people that allow us to pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves how progressive we are. Look at that woman CEO, look at that Black President...aren't we cool?! Yet all the while, just behind the curtain, women are still paid less than men, men who abuse women rarely see jail time even when their deeds are caught on camera, (Oh that's right, I forgot, violence against women only happens in the NFL right? Shame on you NFL!!!!) and college educated black people are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts and I won't even discuss black unemployment in general.
The sad truth is, whether is 1916 or 2016, we still don't matter. Yet, I am expected to walk around with a smile on my face dancing through the streets like I live in a Toyota commercial and ring in the new year. Ok.
I have been feeling particularly lethargic and uninspired at work recently. I celebrated my 21st anniversary with my employer in February. What? Really? Yes. Whenever I hear people say they have been married for 20+ years, I wrinkle my nose as if I just walked into Gold's Gym at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon and smelled the culmination of middle-aged desperation, dreams and sweat.
To be sure my job is the longest relationship I have had, outside of my family of course. I always resist being placed in the category of women who sacrificed their personal lives for their careers. I don't feel like I sacrificed anything, I just made different choices than a lot of women do. I do, however, sometimes ask myself "what do I have to show for it?" Yes, I will have a great pension, my retirement savings in on point and I will be retiring "early" at the age of 54. These were my goals. I have worked hard and achieved exactly what I set out to do.
So, why do I feel defensive sometimes? And why have I been feeling so out of sorts at work? I even used the phrase "wasted" when someone congratulated me on my work anniversary as in " Yeah, can you believe I wasted the last 21 years of my life in this place?"
I know that is foolish talk. I haven't wasted anything. Once quick "google" of my name will produce a resume that is noteworthy in my profession. But sometimes, I still feel as if what I have done with my life has less meaning than what some others have done.
And then it happened. I opened my email and received notification that my company, under my leadership, is being recognized by DiversityINC Top 50 as one of the 25 noteworthy companies of 2015. Wow. That is a designation that 1,500 other companies were hoping to gain and did not. I immediately felf bouyant. I felt validated. My career hasn't been for nothing...I have accomplished something really rare and exeptional. But, am I feeling validated or vindicated?
Does this award signal to the world the legitimacy of the work I have been engaged in? Or, does it prove that my life choices were true and correct? And to whom? For sure, I feel relieved. I am relieved that my legacy will be that of a winner, not as someone who travailed and had nothing but a gold watch to show for it.