| I wrote the following article for the Tampa College - Brandon Campus School Newspaper - I believe it was around 1991. Back in the late 60's and early 70's I believed that our generation would make discrimination a thing of the past. I am sad to say that I was wrong. I hope that my children and grandchildren will continue the battle until the war is won. I once said in a speech that as long as discrimination exists I never wanted to lose my anger and rage at the injustice of it. I have not. We cannot tolerate racist or sexist comments in order to keep the peace. We are only helping the enemy win if we do.
Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Scherberger in a column concerning the Palma Ceia Country Club said "One wonders when discrimination against women will become socially unacceptable."
Yes, one does wonder. One also wonders when discrimination of any kind will become socially unacceptable. When will sex or race or age or physical appearance no longer be more important than the person we are and what we are capable of?
Today sexual and racial discrimination is not as blatant as it was a few years ago, but yes, Virginia, it does still exist.
Laws can only do so much. Even if the law is on your side and you are in the right, can you always afford to exercise that right? Suppose you are a young single parent passed over for promotion because (maybe) you don't date the boss when he asks. Can you risk possibly losing your job and not being able to find another? Who will feed the kids and pay the rent while you are exercising your rights? What if you are a black man passed over for a position that you have worked for, that you deserve? Sure the law is there, but it isn't free. Sometimes the price of exercising our rights is just too high.
What happens if you gain weight or, heaven forbid, get old? Even if you are still doing your job as efficiently as ever, you may be faced with subtle discrimination.
I heard it asked frequently during the Clarence Thomas hearings, "Who do you believe?" I believed them both. I think that they both believed they were right. That is why the work place should never be used as a dating service.
Although men and women are indeed different in many ways, we are alike in many others. If a man asks a woman out and she refuses, it may bother him. Maybe not enough to affect the way he treats the woman on the job, but certainly in the way they both see each other. Can he be sure that his decisions will not be colored by this refusal? And if he can be, can she? If he is critical of the job that she is doing, even if the criticism is just, she may believe that he wouldn't feel like that if she had dated him.
Do we need to wear blinders and gags to work? No, of course not, but we need to recognize the rights of all people to be treated in a respectable, business-like manner when we are working together. Improper remarks and behaviors do not promote a good, productive work environment, no matter who they are directed at.
How can we put an end to discrimination? We can raise our children to understand that a person’s value is in the person not in what you see, and when it becomes an embarrassment to discriminate we can finally lay to rest a blight on society that has been a shadow blocking the sun for centuries. We CAN make discrimination for any reason socially unacceptable.
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