An Issue of Conscience or Discrimination of Sexual Orientation?

Here’s my take on a story that’s been trending the headlines recently.

The Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, Oregon, is a private business. So long as it did not receive any public funding to operate or support being in business, it had a right – and should be respected for having the right to refuse service to anyone based on religious beliefs if it has made clear that they are refusing service based on those beliefs. Personally, I’m fine with that. Why?  Because this is a free-enterprise country and people have a right to have and run business as they see fit – so long as they are not violating certain laws which cover legitimate business operating and hiring practices.
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Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakeryThere are many non-LGBT friendly businesses like Sweet Cakes situated all over the country and the world. Word about such places does – and will indeed spread rapidly throughout not only the gay community but to those people who are LGBT-friendly or who are LGBT allies. If such business is set in a community where gays and gay-friendly people frequent and do business, it is an almost sure bet that many non-LGBT friendly businesses will suffer.  Here’s why:  If they are smart, the LGBT community and its allies would not protest or make any significant noise against any non-LGBT friendly business.  The LGBT community and its allies and supporters would quickly pass the word in and out of the area to simply boycott that particular business.  With social media being what it is, word would spread fast. No laws have been broken and the business cannot sue in court for loss of business and revenue for there is not yet any law that forces people to shop or do business at designated places in a community.
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Melissa and Aaron of Sweet CakesNow, the owners of Sweet Cakes have apparently made a conscious choice NOT to support same-sex or gay marriage based on their religious beliefs. When this story first broke in January, the owners stated very clearly that there not being discriminate against gay and lesbian people; only against same-sex marriages. At that time, they stated (as they repeated recently when news hit that they were closing the store to operate from home), that they did not want to do anything that remotely suggested or supported the same-sex marriage issue, implying that baking a cake for the lesbian couple would have violated or compromised their Christian beliefs/position.

Now see readers, I don’t have a problem with that. The owners made their position clear to the lesbian couple and the lesbian couple should have respected the bakery owner’s position on the issue.  That should have been the end of it. I don’t think anyone should have to be forced into doing something that clearly violates their moral position (even though there might be negative consequences) and no one should attempt to force someone to do something against their will anyway simply because they do not agree or have the same point of view. In the twenty-first century, people who have private property and a private establishment still have certain options to avoid certain controversial issues. People also still have an option to not support or to boycott any business or establishment whose business dealings are questionable or seem non-supportive of what one stands for or believes.  One can boycott such a business and take his/her patronage elsewhere.  For example, in November 2011,No to Applebee's Grill and Bar I chose to boycott Applebee’s Grill &Bar until they changed certain inflexible rules/policy regarding their annual Veterans Day Free/Discount Meal Program. Since I had an issue with their policy, I simply and quietly decided I would not patronize that business nor recommend it to anyone I know as a place to dine. It was my personal boycott…and I’m still boycotting them. The lesbian couple could have done the same thing.  In the instance of the dispute under discussion, I see a two-way street of mutual respect that is needed.  I should note there are some LGBT people who do not support the same-sex marriage issue. Don’t ask me why that is; you’ll need to go find your friendly “gayborhood” anti-gay marriage homosexual(s) and ask him/her/them why they don’t support same-sex marriage. Their reasons may astound you!  Let’s keep in mind that just because an issue or cause involves a sub-society or subculture of people does not automatically or necessarily mean that everyone in that subculture will or ought to support it!
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Now let’s get more real!
If you feel or find that any business refuses you service based on your race, gender, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, why not simply take your money and patronage elsewhere?  Yes, that establishment may be breaking all kinds of laws but if YOU know the law, you can still spend your money elsewhere and have your personal boycott and/or get others in the community to boycott the joint. Perhaps this is what the lesbian couple should have done.

Please understand: I am not suggesting that you sweep the possibility or the fact that you were dissed by that business or establishment under the rug;  No; only that you need to be very sure that you have a case by knowing the law before taking a complaint to the media or filing some lawsuit or complaint of discrimination.  You may also want to weigh whether certain situations are worth making a fuss over.  LGBT people, ethnic groups, people with disabilities and other members of sub-societies for example, do not have some automatic right to scream “DISCRIMINATION” every time they feel they’ve been offended or wronged.  Life isn’t that simple! Some things simply are not always about one person or group who feels that they have a judicial precedent in their back pocket looking by becoming über-sensitive to anyone outside their sub-society who might say or so something [perceivably] offensive against them. When certain laws and court rulings are debated, argued and handed down, every situation cannot possibly be anticipated. That is why we call such findings in the law or in judicial decisions “loopholes”! Loopholes normally get addressed and, if necessary, the law and/or court decision in question gets modified, changed or amended accordingly.  But I digress.
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The lesbian couple had a right to order a cake but had no right to demand or insist that Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a private business, give them that particular Sweet Cakes cake propservice.  I’m not a lawyer, but I’m not certain that the lesbian couple had a right to cry “discrimination based on their sexual orientation” simply because they were refused the requested service – particularly if they (the lesbian couple) had a choice not to patronize that particular business and could have gone elsewhere. Think back to what I said about LGBT smartness and community boycott.  Anyway, Oregon’s state Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) reported it is investigating to determine if Sweet Cakes’ actions violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which states that “people cannot be denied service based on sexual orientation”. The law provides an exemption for schools and religious groups, but not for private businesses, according to a BOLI news release. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough what Oregon’s BOLI decides – considering the state would have to prove that the couple were denied service because they were gay or because they were getting married. While I am, and always have been a supporter of most LGBT issues – particularly that of same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting, I cannot – with the current information I have, support any cause that clearly infringes upon the rights of others.  I think this PRIVATE business had a right to refuse service based on their religious beliefs and standing regarding gay marriage and I think the lesbian couple, in turn should have shown respect for the beliefs of the owners of that bakery – just as they (the lesbian couple) would want others to respect their right to marry.
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Sweet Cakes store-closing signGranted, alternatively the Sweet Cakes bakery owners could have played fair too and just set aside their personal, moral and religious beliefs and taken the lesbian couple’s order on strictly a BUSINESS aspect.  I would hope that Sweet Cakes’ owners’ god and church would understand this.  Assuming these owners were Christians (as they clearly admitted they are), I say that if they were thinking (which apparently they were not since they judged and denied service to two people simply because of a gay rights issue) they ought to know that Jesus himself (who, by the way, was NOT a “christian”) gave HEALING SERVICES to many people who did not believe that he was the Son of God.  Jesus attended a wedding in Cana where he (according to biblical lore) turned water into wine. The Bible does not say that the wedding party or its attendees were or had to be “devout followers of Jesus “(or God).  The Bible does not say that Jesus attended a wedding where “there were only people who loved and obeyed the Lord.”  The Bible does not say that at this wedding party which Jesus attended, “no sinner, murderer, thief, known adulterer, fornicator or any man who lies with a man as he would a woman, would be allowed to attend the feast let alone be served food and drink.”  Now to think logically, one must then assume that the people Jesus healed or those who attended the wedding feast were those who came from all walks of life. They were sinners and probably some in the worse way who were at that wedding where Jesus partiedYes, I said, Jesus partied!  What else would he do at a festive occasion like a wedding? Sit on his Nazarene carpenter’s ass? Would Jesus be there to just stare at people? Or would he be there to change each person’s chalice of water to wine upon request?  Let’s get real! The man had a good time until he was ready to leave. My point is that the Sweet Cakes bakery owners should have followed Jesus’ example. Since they chose not to do that, it proves my point about how some Christians pick and choose what points of the Bible and Jesus’ teachings they wish to follow. Again, I digress!
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Bottom line –
This seems to be more of an issue of one’s conscience than one of sexual orientation discrimination.  Do I think Sweet Cakes should have closed its store? No, but I can understand why they did.  Still, I don’t see how any infringement upon Sweet Cakes owner’s religion would happen had they simply served the lesbian couple and made them the damn cake. Again, they could have made the cake in the interest of good business. Many people in business often lay aside certain moral, religious and political views while conducting business in a public environment. They do it for the greater interest and for the common good of something that’s sure to offer them a greater reward or give some great advantage that’s to their benefit…and the community as a whole!  Since such businesses choose to function this way, they do not always consider it a compromise or violation to their personal principles or position regarding the kind of people who patronize their business or to the issues which they (the business owner) happen to oppose. Of course there are always exceptions.  Still, I’d be curious in knowing why the Sweet Cakes bakery owners were so different n this sense (unless of course, they indeed were being discriminatory towards the lesbian couple because they were gay and since homosexuality is part of the anti-gay rhetoric preached by ultra-conservative Christians).

Sweet Cakes lesbian couple who started controversyThe lesbian couple on the other hand, may have been wrong in making this a big stink by giving members of the LGBT community fodder to unrightfully (in my opinion) protest against the bakery which impacted negatively on Sweet Cakes. The couple could have simply turned around and patronized another bakery and maybe passed word to their friends, family and supporters of their relationship and in the LGBT community that the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery was not a supporter of LGBT causes and issues and perhaps not supportive of LGBT people – regardless of what the owners at Sweet Cakes claimed and urged the community not to give public protest but to boycott if they wanted while the court and the State of Oregon decide how to proceed.  I think doing that would have left it up to each member of the LGBT community and the community as a whole to decide for him/her self whether to further patronize that particular bakery business.

Naturally, I expect people to disagree with me on this issue, but like everything else in this blog, this is my point of view.

Keepin’ It…REAL!
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©2013 RobFather-X! Productions. All rights reserved.

At Chrysler (Detroit), Fired for Bad Behavior – Yet Reinstated!

This is NOT right nor is it fair to other employees of Chrysler Group LLC (or any company – auto assembly or otherwise) who work hard and follow established company guidelines regarding the use the alcohol and/or drugs as an employee. The activity shown in this video is audacious, to say the least! None of the employees …not a single person – who was drinking alcohol and/or smoking marijuana or using some hallucinating drug substance, whether on the job, on break/lunch hour or on or off company premises, should have been allowed to return to work once they were terminated for violating company policy!

Chrysler Group LLC had an established policy governing the conduct of its employees. The employees who were suspended or terminated KNEW the policy yet chose to ignore it! That’s why they got rightfully fired. I don’t care how “good” an employee is or how well he or she might do their job; rules are fuckin’ rules! Part of any employee’s paid job is to OBEY THE RULES!  Choosing to ignore or violate company policy is the same as saying to company management:“Fuck you, Boss; I’m gonna do what I wanna do…and you’ll still pay me for it!”

Now of course, with some companies, what an employee chooses to do OFF the job – meaning, he/she HAS NO INTENTIONS TO RETURN TO WORK THAT DAY, is one thing. However, if an employee “clocks out” for a break or lunch hour and/or drives off company premises – and the company expects that employee to return to work (and he/she also has every intention to return to work) that person is still considered an active employee and an integral part of the work team for that day while working for the company. It should not matter if the employee is or is not paid for said breaks or lunch hour or even if the break/lunch hour was taken off company premises.

There are HUNDREDS of QUALIFIED and UNEMPLOYED people waiting, no…they are “chopping at the bit” to get hired, earn a good paycheck from a good employer and who are willing follow a few simple rules for about 8 to 12 hours worth of work a day. Those same people will be willing to control any personal recreational desires to drink alcohol and/or do drugs until they are completely done with the workday and are off company premises.  And again, those same people understand WHY such policies are set and WHY they must be obeyed, if for no other reason than to ensure SAFETY ON THE JOB for themselves and other co-workers! Since it is the business of Chrysler and such auto manufacturing companies to assemble automobiles, the rules about alcohol and drugs are also set to ensure that parts are made and assembled properly to ensure that the end product – that car or truck that WE drive is well-made, assembled and thoroughly tested for quality and safety before being sold to potential buyers…which happens to be….US.

The report says certain legal rights technicalities about the publicity given the firing of those employees (see video/report) was the reason why each was able to return to work.  I don’t get it!  Some court, fancy lawyers – and the union – would rather place the rights of some employee who chose to disobey company policy and safety policy over the safety of their co-workers and/or potential buyers of the vehicles they build?? What the fuck is wrong with this picture? I have to wonder why Chrysler did not spend their millions of dollars to fight the decision – AND the union on this one! If I were part of that board of directors I would have voted to do whatever was legally necessary to keep each arrogant former employee from ever returning to work at the company! This is yet another example of what is wrong with corporate America and some of the unions! I’m all for unions protecting the rights of employees but for them to turn a blind eye to what is obviously wrong is something I can’t support. In addition to companies firing its workers, not paying them enough, cancelling their benefits but still paying CEO’s extremely high salaries and bonuses, they are now willing to condone the bad behavior of some of their employees. They will give just enough of a fight in arbitration so they can “put the issue behind them”.  I suppose corporations like Chrysler (and a powerful union like the  UAW) don’t care that bad behavior of employees often threatens or directly endangers the safety and well-being of innocent people – both on and off the job and possibly countless others who may have nothing whatsoever to do with the company! No…it seems they would rather wait until later down the line, after all the dust of such cases have settled, for shit to go wrong or for somebody to get hurt or killed so that the question, “What the fuck?” could be asked. Then media damage control procedures can be implemented as companies, unions, lawyers and the judges who allowed things to escalate to such a degree in the first place seek to cover all their asses with lies and half-truths to the general public. It is a damn shame!

Thanks for wimping out on this one Chrysler Group LLC! You’re a big company with deep money pockets yet you say “your hands were tied” and you chose not to use all your power and cash to fight for what is right! You’ve certainly given me a reason not to buy your products! My safety and my life, and the safety and lives of my loved ones and potential passengers comes first before I will ever support an auto-making company who cares more about the rights of its bad and disrespectful employees than they do about the safety and lives of its customers!

Keepin’ It…REAL!

Harmless Prank Led to Suicide? No way!

Michael Christianson & Mel Grieg, Australian radio shock jocks (2012)-2I don’t get this story! As a person with a God-given damn good sense of humor, as one who knows the difference between a harmless prank and a seemingly dangerous one, and as a radio personality (but NOT a shock jock), I don’t understand why Australian radio shock jocks Mel Greig, 30, and Michael Christian, 25 are (seemingly) all torn up over the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, 46, the hospital nurse and mother of two teens, who took the simply harmless (repeat …HARMLESS…) prank 30-second phone call to Duchess of Cambridge Catherine “Kate” Middleton’s hospital room last week (Thursday, December 6, 2012).  (Click here for video story.)

What has not yet been determined is why Saldanha took her own life.  As the investigation into Saldanha’s suicide continues and in light of the negative press, the management of the radio station where Greig and Christian are employed have taken their show off the air and suspended the two jocks – at least for the time being.  I don’t think they were fired, as some reports say.  Under the circumstances of this story, considering what the jocks are paid to do and certain other legal issues, it is highly unlikely that the jocks were terminated – especially so soon – and without the completion of a thorough investigation. Furthermore, the action of taking a show off the air and issuing a temporary suspension to Greig and Christian is normal business damage control procedure and is done in an effort to help take some of the heat or spotlight away from not only the jocks themselves but the radio station, its management and its owners.  With that said, take most of what you read in the press with a bit of caution.

Now, what I don’t understand is why there are people there and around the world, including the two jocks themselves, upset over this suicide incident. In asking this question, I don’t believe I’m being insensitive. I think if anyone should be upset over an apparent suicide it ought to be Saldanha’s children and family, friends and co-workers – since any suicide is unexpected and shocking.  I will never believe Greig and Christian did anything to directly or indirectly trigger Saldanha’s suicide.  News reports say that Saldanha was “humiliated” which may have led to her suicide. Really? No one is going to convince me that because she could not handle a little prank, Saldanha, a mother of two teenagers (and many teens, by their nature, are pranksters) and a nurse, felt it necessary to take her own life. Again, the investigation continues.

As with many suicides, the issue which often leads someone to take his or her own life usually runs deeper than it appears, regardless whether the person left a note or some other subtle indicator that they were suicidal.  And since none of those self-life takers can come back to argue me on this fact, I ask those still living, breathing and reading to this point to withhold judgment of my commentary until the end of the post.

Some things to consider:

  1. It is ALWAYS tragic when anyone feels the need to take his or her own life.  However, I make a special exception to those muthafuckas who choose to take the lives of others then kill themselves. I do NOT feel for murderers; only their victims, thus I hate the term “murder-suicide”; the word should be “murder-self-execution.”
  2. Australian radio jocks Mel Greig and Michael Christian are SHOCK JOCKS…and with such a title, I, like most people who listen to a variety of radio, are left to presume they are in the same league as many other radio shock jocks known around the world (famed shock jock Howard Stern comes to mind). Greig and Christian planned a radio show for their morning program. They had already received the “ok” to do the prank call from station management. Where the British monarchy is concerned, such permission would be needed if for no other reason than to cover everyone’s ass (or arse, as the Brits and Aussies prefer to say).
    * SIDENOTE:  A little tidbit about morning radio programs.  While many radio shows sound impromptu, most of them are indeed planned.  And the longer a morning team works together, the better the chemistry between each person on that team is.  Of course, there are periods where improvisation takes place but again that is the beauty of the team chemistry which always makes for a great show. Thus, what you hear on radio is often a seamless program!
  3. Call it my opinion (as is most shit in this blog) but anyone who listened to the prank call – which was repeated around the world that day and days afterwards – would have to admit that NOTHING in the call itself was even offensive nor particularly “shocking”. Thirty (30) seconds is hardly enough time for any person of sane and stable mind to commit suicide! It is assumed that Jacintha Saldanha was carefully screened by British security and found to be mentally stable and “safe enough” to be employed as a nurse in the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated.  If there was an indication that Saldanha was mentally ill, suicidal, or had personal issues that could or would pose a threat to any member of the royal family, she would have been removed from that hospital long before or immediately after the Duchess was admitted.  Again, the investigation continues!
  4. Anyone who intends to kill themselves or attempts suicide usually hesitates for at least a few moments – or longer – before actually going through with it. Obviously, I’m no expert on suicide (you reading this proves I’m alive – at least right now. LOL!) but in my time, I’ve either known about, have read about and/or listened to enough people who have considered suicide to know this to be true.  Again, I will NOT believe this harmless phone call prank caused Jacintha Saldanha – let alone anyone else – to commit suicide! Suicides are the result of much deeper personal issues!
  5. Shock jocks are humorists, if nothing else.  They say and do things which often might poke fun, embarrass, irritate or even outright anger some people. It’s simply what they do! But they also say and do things that are humorous and funny and make us laugh at our humanity. Shock jocks give cause for us to lighten up a bit from all the seriousness which tends to overtake our lives. Some of us could use a little joviality (in addition to just coffee and a donut) to kick-start our day! Far worse things have been said and/or done on radio, television, and the internet.  People need to relax.

People need to take responsibility for their own actions.  Really. It’s that simple. My Facebook friend Kris Avalon said it in a nutshell: No one can predict how fragile someone’s mindset is when you ask them certain questions or make jokes or pranks. Ever since 9/11 we have become so fucking paranoid about everything people say and do….” What Kris said is true! We cannot predict someone’s mindset. We also should not feel responsible for the harmful or tragic actions someone chooses to take against themselves simply because of things we may have done, said or written to or to them. That’s why this incident simply makes no sense.  Please, don’t misunderstand. I realize that certain things people say or do either are – or can be – offensive to others. That is NOT the situation with the Greig & Christian prank phone call issue or Jacintha Saldanha’s suicide.

Let’s be real: If Saldanha was psychologically unstable as to allow a prank phone call – or the publicity of such – to give her cause to immediately take her own life INSTEAD of simply taking a few personal days off from work to avoid any publicity, quit her job or go into hiding – but to actually KILL herself – then I say that she had no damn business working in a public service environment!

I also say: let’s stop with all the fake tears and fake concerns over this incident which was – and is – about nothing! I sympathize with Jacintha Saldanha’s family and other loved ones for their loss but I firmly stand by what I said earlier about her suicide being much deeper than what it appears. The suicide has to be the result of negative issues already accumulating and happening in HER life… NOT from some prank phone call from a couple of radio shock jocks!  I’d be willing to bet that is what the investigation is going to find. Saldanha’s suicide was both unpredictable and possibly unexpected (as is most suicides) and the result of bad timing – coming on the heels of a prank phone call made to Kate Middleton’s hospital room.  Under these circumstances, Australian radio jocks Mel Greig and Michael Christian should not – in any way whatsoever – be held responsible for Saldanha’s death.

** Finally, suicide is a serious matter. Entertaining thoughts of taking your own life is a sign for a cry for help but nothing to be ashamed of. If you or someone you know, is in some emotional distress or considering suicide, P L E A S E call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). VETERANS: there is help for you, too! Call this same number and press 1 for Veterans. **

Keepin’ It…REAL!

  

Hire A Veteran!

I just received two more “qualified, but…” emails from potential employers recently. In fact, I’ve must have received ten, fifteen, twenty or more over the past few years. I’ve since lost count. I continue to get more frustrated, impatient, and definitely OLDER as I play this damn game of 3-card EMPLOYMENT Monte in this city, in this state (Michigan), and country as a whole! SOMEBODY needs to actually READ my resume, then at least CONTACT me to discuss further qualifications and experiences I may have, many which cannot POSSIBLY all be listed on a resume or job application form!  Oh, how I LONG for the days when one could simply PHYSICALLY visit a business looking to hire and actually MEET FACE TO FACE with a hiring agent! This whole “apply on-line/send resume/cover letter through cyberspace” thing, while having its benefits, is also a big NEGATIVE! There is only so much one can determine about a person from a simple sheet of paper!

EMPLOYERS: Don’t be hesitant to call or ask me to come visit for an interview if (according to the rejection emails and letters you’ve sent me) I happen to “meet many of the requirements your company is looking for”. Don’t add the word “but” at the end of that statement. Many of you have already FIRED some people who’ve only been with you for a very short time OR… that newly hired, “well qualified” employee found better pay and opportunity SOMEPLACE ELSE shortly AFTER being hired by your company!  Who here is NOT doing their potential hiring homework?HIRE an experienced, dedicated, loyal and committed VETERAN (like me!) ALREADY!
Keepin It…REAL!
Source: Dept of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics - October 2011

Source: Dept of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics – October 2011

The Stigma of the “Angry Black Man” (Part 2)

How would YOU react if you overheard the following, particularly in an office setting?

Scene: An office setting. Two White women,(whom I’ll call “Veronica” and “Betty“) are in their early to upper-30’s, talking. “Veronica” is the manager; “Betty”an employee of near-to-equal status of Veronica. Both are in the manager’s office whose door is wide open; both are using their “inside whisper voices”. However, on this particular day, activity around that office was quiet so a good ear in-passing could hear every word spoken.

Betty: (talking to Veronica) “The receptionist said Mr. ‘X’ is here for that 2 o’clock appointment with you regarding that issue he emailed us about.”
Veronica: “Oh, I know. He wants to talk about issue (X). I didn’t answer the email he sent so I guess he decided to see me personally.”
Betty: “Well, his complaint seems valid. Let’s hear what he has to say and we’ll go from there.”
Veronica: “Ok, but not alone! I’ll need you to sit in on the meeting with me, you know… just in case he gets belligerent….”
Betty: (interrupts Veronica) “Belligerent? About what? We know this man; I don’t get that from him. He’s not…”
Veronica: (interrupting Betty) “Just stay here, just in case. I’m not gonna be in this room with that nigger by myself! Those people are always complaining about something and always seem to have some kind of issue they’re mad or upset about!”

FACT 1: I could have made this up (which I didn’t) but even if I did, it wouldn’t matter. SOMEBODY out there will say that they either know of or have been witness to, a scenario exactly like or similar to this.

FACT 2: It is 2012. White women have been working, partying, dating AND sleeping with Black men for years! When they see us on TV or the big screen, they even seem to also admire us. Yet many (not all) are STILL scared or fearful of us (Black men) no matter how well or how NON-threatening we may look or how professional we may present ourselves! For some strange reason, the “innate fear of the Black man” still resides within them. “Veronica” and “Betty” give their sisters a bad rep!

FACT 3: Since joining the civilian work force after the Navy, I have discovered that in some settings, many White women (and some White men too), will hardly ever be found in a room or office ALONE, in an one-on-one meeting with a Black man (or other person of color) to discuss any issues of a direct personal or work-related, or business-providing nature. If the primary person having such a meeting is White, nine times out of ten, (at least in my experience) the other person “just sitting in” is always going to be…White.

FACT 4: Expecting a Black man (or any other person of color) to meet alone with Person 1 is rarely, ever going to happen (again, I’m speaking in some settings), as Person 1 would always give one of the following top three “reasons” (aka, lies) for why Person 2 is also in on the meeting:
(a) Person 2 is there “in training”;
(b) Person 2 is there to make sure the meeting is being conducted in a “professional manner”; or
(c) the issue concerns Person 2’s “area of responsibility”.

While there may some truth to any of these “reasons” for Person 2’s presence, the client/co-worker/subject still has a right to meet one-on-one with Person 1 if he or she feels it necessary. However, certain White persons I know are, or at least seem to be, intimidated by Black men (and Black women) in the corporate setting. Based on my experience, some of them will use – and have used – the words “belligerent” or “militant” to describe almost any Black person’s expressed concerns or views about a situation. They will say that particular Black person “has a bad attitude” or that he (or she) was “being belligerent in the meeting”. If they know the person served in the armed forces, they will accuse him (in such an inaccurate application of the word) of being a “militant”, especially if he happens to disagree with an issue or intelligently (and respectfully) expresses an adverse opinion. At least TWO college degree-holding managers I know have actually said that my “negative attitude was the result of having served in the military for such a long time that it made me a militant.” I laugh each time I hear this!  It is unfortunate that honorable Black men such as I cannot reasonably express a complaint, dispute, or legitimate concern without certain people still feeling the need to “protect” themselves from us with the presence of some other person nearby as they jump to the automatic conclusion that I/we Black men might somehow get “belligerent” on them…EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO PRIOR OR SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEIR PERCEPTION!

Normally, I am NOT one to pull the “race card”, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see, hear or learn from others, the things that are said and/or done in workplaces, stores, schools, etc. No one can EVER convince me that racism, bigotry, and hatred is “dying a fast death” or that it “no longer exists” in America! Such may be dying in SOME parts of America but, like a cancer, it has its own of staying and/or hiding where it is or spreading to places one might least expect. Only the “radiation” of KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING and RESPECT FOR THE DIFFERENCE OF OTHERS in our society, capped with SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE will eradicate this cancer of racism, racist remarks, and bigotry. Until then, anyone who thinks otherwise I shall call “fool” straight to their face, as I continue to LIVE with the stigma of the “angry Black man” every day of my life! There’s still more to come on this issue. Stand by!
Keepin’ It…REAL!