November 07, 2003
I’m pursuing my MBA right now by way of evening classes. The program I’m in is geared specifically for people in my position who work full-time but don’t want to quit their jobs to get their degree. So, the people in my program are all generally experienced professionals and serious businesspeople.
I love it.
On the whole I am terribly impressed by the broad range of knowledge and experience my classmates have. And they all love making money. If you ask any of them why they choose to do anything it will almost always boil down to making more money. They’re very upfront about it even if they consider it a “guilty pleasure.”
First, I don’t do the whole guilt thing. That’s just not my bag. I don’t do anything that I think is wrong. And if I do something and later realize it was wrong, I do what I can to make up for it and move on. The idea that some how profit is bad and we do it for lack of another occupation is extremely offensive. Businessmen and women get a bad rap for this and what’s worse is that they accept it.
But that’s not what I want to talk about.
What I want to talk about is the general apathy the average business person has about all the injustices and wrongs in the world. Apathy, if I may, is a disgusting mentality. It represents the diminution or erasure of value. One might equate it with losing the will to live which is at best very sad and at worst the very depth of depravity.
And here many of my classmates when confronted with racism, protectionist trade policies in our country and abroad, bribery as a “cultural standard,” antitrust litigation, intellectual property rights violations, unjust tax policies, and outright thievery do little more than shrug. “That’s just the fact,” or “Well, it’s still the law.”
I’ve gotten more than one raised eyebrow because of my boisterous protestations and I’ve also been told to accept the facts as the facts.
My reaction to this is to point out that I am not ignorant of reality. I am not deluded into thinking that things are different. If I were, this conversation would not even be happening. I am bringing up the point so that the facts can be addressed.
Further, I am not contented with simply acknowledging things and not acting. These facts have value to us as businesspeople because it is upon those facts that we must base our actions. And sometimes those actions should be directed to changing the state of affairs, not just working around them.
Their fault is that no distinction is being made between those things that can be changed and those things that cannot. I understand that businesspeople are not disposed to activism, but their tunnel vision will cost them.
No matter the extent of injustice weighed upon them, business people just take it and move on. Laws are being passed almost every day to chain them and leach off of them and they do nothing but shrug and say, “Well, it’s a fact,” to the extent that I’m not sure they know the meaning of the word.
But that’s not right. That’s not how a winner does it. That’s not how I do it and to those who hate profit and business, you can consider this a threat.
November 06, 2003
- What kind of goal is diversity anyway? How do you know when you’re there?
- If all things are equal and you choose someone for their race, gender, whatever, isn’t that the very definition of racist, sexist, or whateverist?
- If all things aren’t equal, why would any rational businessperson choose the lesser qualified person over the more qualified person?
- If all things are just pretty close, and you decide they’re so close to equal to be equal, aren’t you then both idiotic in business and a bigot?
I’m very frustrated by discussions of diversity because they run pretty much the same course. We all agree that all those -isms are bad but some how lots of people maintain untroubled minds even when the same breath contains, in essence, “except when it happens to white, Christian males of the upper class.”
Another thing that frustrates me about discussions of diversity and race is their tendency to go like this:
Person A: As a minority, I suffer all kinds of discrimination and alienation almost every day.I think it is pretty clearly established that person B admitted his non-minority status. It is doubtful that he has deluded himself into thinking for one minute that he is a 67 year-old, black, female, atheist monopod. So, no one is in denial of the raw facts.
Person B: I really feel for you and am upset by this. As a white person, I don’t experience that every day, but I have some insight into your situation because I had an experience once where I was the minority.
Person A: I’m sorry, but you will never understand because that was just one experience compared to my whole life.
I ask you, though: What’s the point in illustrating that your whole life has consisted of an intermittent but steady stream of insults and disadvantages weighed upon you for your minority status and that it does not come close to any minor experience that may compare in the life of a non-minority? It’s clear that the general course of the above conversation can only serve to be more divisive, but this is the course of many-a discussion the country wide.
Why didn’t you just say you didn’t want any white, male support in your cause? Why not just come right out and say, “I would rather have a pity-party than end racism?” Certainly that’s not the case with everyone who has said this, but the line of argumentation paints a pretty clear picture.
Those who attempt to trump with the “you’ll never understand” argument are right in that I will never be black or a woman or anything other than what I am. But so long as you hold that against me, I am going to have a hard time supporting you as an individual in spite of the fact that bigotry is the most vile and disgusting of social ills which I will always vehemently dispute on the whole.
Don’t hold it against me that I’m white. And more importantly, don’t hold it against me that I’m not the bigot you expect me to be, bigot.
The fact is that there are many in the diversity awareness game don’t want to stop bigotry. They want to perpetuate it. How safe would their jobs be if everyone started recognizing race as just another physical characteristic and not a basis for which to judge one’s character? Where would they be if Martin Luther King’s dream came true?
I was actually told tonight that a person’s race and gender bring special perspectives to business. Oh? Do women and black people see money in a different shade of green? Does circumcision grant the Jews the power to make money?
Did they really mean to say that people with different experiences have different abilities and knowledge having dealt with those experiences? So, it would actually be better to judge people as individuals without any regard to race, since none of us can live anyone else’s life, right? They didn’t really mean to imply that a person’s race dictates the content of their brains-- or did they?
Oh but I can see the next wave of argument to that, too. "Trey seeks to deny the reality that minorities do have a different life experience from non-minorities." Translation: Trey has caught on to the fact that discrimination against minorities and life experience in general aren’t universal and he isn’t fooled by our twisted attempts to make such a claim based on the simple, undeniable reality that no two people live the same lives.
Well, you caught me. I refuse to treat any human being like anything other than a human being and I refuse to judge them by anything other than the individual content of their brain. And as a businessperson, I object to someone even trying to force me to consider anything over qualifications in my employees.
Trey Givens, guilty as charged: A resolute non-bigot.
The thing I love about business people is how much they love money. Everything is about making more money. My class discussion, I am actually pleased to say, contained these profit elements that have been missing from other diversity debates and I enjoyed that immensely. One of the reasons we supported a diverse workplace was to make money because, “Hey, some people are bigots and we need to find people who at least look like them to sell them stuff.” Brilliant.
We business-folk don’t care whether or not you’re stupid so long as your money is green. If you’re going to be a racist, we’ll make it so you can come buy stuff from someone you don’t hate on sight.
My objection is that this is actually just pandering to the bigotry out there but no one wants to name it. We don’t want to be caught saying that we hate racists but we don’t mind taking their money. My classmates want to couch their denial of the facts in phrases like, “Well, it’s not really racism. Everyone feels more comfortable with people like them and if they’re more comfortable, they’ll spend more.” Hello! Why are they more comfortable? Because they’re making the judgments about the character of the individual based on how they look, talk, walk, or glaze their Key Lime tarts. They’re judging a person not as an individual but as a member of some particular collective or another would be called what exactly in your new-fangled dictionary?
I am less concerned about people being that way than I am about our refusal to call it like it is.
America does have a problem with bigotry, and it continues today in the form of sensitivity training, affirmative action, race-based admissions standards, and Supreme Court rulings.
Race, age, gender, and sexual orientation tell you nothing about a person's experience, knowledge, education, or abilities. Treating people as if it does should be reviled.
Speak the truth and shame the Devil!
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