Monday, January 20, 2014

Black people belong in pseudo-inspirational photos, not board rooms, apparently

Every MLK Day, I can't help but flashback to my job as a temp for the world's largest public records company. This was yet another multi-billion dollar company that was posting record breaking profit after record breaking profit, quarter after quarter, but somehow "couldn't afford" to hire temps on as full timers or give them raises. Apparently, they hadn't been able to "afford" that for more than four years because that's how long they had been on a hiring freeze. Yes, there were temps that had been there for more than four years. Since I was an outsourced, trained monkey a temp, I didn't get as many paid holidays as the actual employees. That was the cattle farm temp agency's fault, not the record company's fault. Still, I ended up working MLK day because if I didn't, it just meant a smaller pay check that week.

I was allergic to MLK Day there, not because I'm allergic to MLK or civil rights, but because I'm always allergic to blatant hypocrisy. Seeing the company's half-assed attempts to make themselves look racially sensitive made me want to vomit. They did this mostly by putting up pictures of black employees and other random stock photos of black people pretending to do important work next to words like, "DIVERSITY," and, "INSPIRATION," and, "CULTURE." This feigned interest in multi-culturalism stained the walls from the week before MLK Day all the way to the end of Black History Month, only to be replaced by the exact same stereotypical stock photos featuring only women the next month.

"I get to stay on the wall for February AND March! MLK and Susan B. Anthony would be so proud!"

Despite these images disgracing the walls for a month or two, it was clear to me that the company didn't give a singular molecule of ACTUAL shit about women and minorities. It could be that, while as a low-level, underpaid temp that was constantly being teased with prospects of raises and long term employment (well, I was a "temp" for a year and a half and probably still would be had I not quit), I was a minority as a Caucasian, but a majority as a woman. Upper management, on the other hand would have placed me in common company....well, except for that whole vagina thing.

Upper management was, naturally, almost exclusively white and male, not just at my office, but for the company as a whole. I knew this because about once a quarter, we had to attend virtual video "Town Hall" meetings where the top dogs, who fit a very narrow physical description, would explain how many BILLIONS more the company made than projected and how, while this was still yet another record breaking quarter, the record wasn't broken as largely as in some previous quarters, so we shouldn't get TOO jolly about it.

I always wondered who the hell the company thought they were fooling. Did they actually think we were so stupid we weren't going to notice the blatant hypocrisy of all this? Do they really think if they just plaster generic pictures of women and minorities all over the walls and put ONE token brown person in upper management, that we'll just ignore the practice for the preaching? Could anyone possibly be stupid enough to fall for this?! Worse, who exactly was in charge of piecing together all this fauxversity? Who picked out the pictures to go on the walls? What was the process, I wonder?

"Hey, MLK Day is coming up. We better go through the company scrap book and cut out pictures of black people to put on the walls so we don't look racially insensitive. Crap, we only have women and minorities in crap positions....better buy some stock photos...."

If you're a multi-billion dollar good ol' boys' club (like every multi-billion dollar business in this country), please just don't even acknowledge MLK Day, Black History Month, or Women's History Month. Just take an extra day off....or don't. Don't even both closing that day. The extent of your concern for women and minorities in the work place could be better exhibited by a kindergartener's cut and paste collage. When women and minorities make up a reasonable percentage of high dollar earners, then you can make diversity decor out of our pictures. Til then, you can just stuff 'em right back up the anus from whence they came.


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