“Reducing Identity to Race”

Preface: I don’t usually take on subjects such  as this, nor do I typically write in this form, admittedly I was uncertain about both.  However, at my other job, I observed such a blatant display of ‘acceptable’ racism, that I could not resist attacking it publicly.  I hope one day we can stop reducing a person’s identity to the color of their skin.

“Reducing Identity to Race”

North Carolina, 2015

Yesterday I was told
that I needed a ‘diversity hire’
“The waiters here,”
this inflated opinion spoke
“are all white!”
“But,” said I
“out of a staff of 30,
there are only 5 waiters, and
the rest of the staff is
comprised of immigrants from
7 different countries.
It’s an incredibly diverse group.”
“No, no!” She exclaimed.
“They’re all Hispanic, White, or Asian!”
“Oh,” I said. “I see.
You want me to hire a black guy.
It’s not that I have any qualms
with doing so, I just don’t see how
having one will help my restaurant.”

She couldn’t hear my point
over the glaring alleged offense
and she called me racist.
(I felt, that the refusal
to hire a person
because they were
a specific race
would have been as wrong
as not hiring a person
because they weren’t
a specific race.
It should not be
among qualifications
for employment.)

What I don’t understand is
how a display of racial diversity
is more important than
a functioning grouping
of culturally diverse individuals
working as a team. Nor do I
understand how this woman can
lump my entire staff
into 3 labels
that do not represent
the people behind them.

But, since race is
so important, perhaps I should state,
“The waitress with the curly hair,
she doesn’t like being called white.
She’s mixed, though I don’t know with what
I never thought to ask.”
Maybe I’m supposed to ask.
But then, wouldn’t I be racist,
too?

© M. Black, 2015 All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on ““Reducing Identity to Race”

    1. Thank you for your input! I think, this happens more frequently than we might suspect. People should be permitted to be who they are, not just a racial statistic. Labels make us numbers, and numbers have no self-identity beyond that.

      Like

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