Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ghetto Dude

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty apologized Sunday to a young job applicant who received an e-mail from a cabinet staffer referring to him as a "ghetto dude."Evon Reid, who is one credit short of a political science degree fromthe University of Toronto, applied for a position as a media analyst with the Ontario government and last week e-mailed the cabinet office to follow up. Aileen Siu, an office worker, replied: "This is the ghetto dude that I spoke to before."Ms. Siu intended to forward the message to co-workers, but mistakenly sent the response to Mr. Reid, who is black.
Source: Globe and Mail

How fortuitous that the email writer hit reply instead of forward. Every now and then it is good to expose the things which reside deeply in our subconcious, behind the political correctness and the well developed outward etiquette of our business and social worlds.

The email was sent by Ms. Siu about Mr. Reid who was seeking a position as a media analyst in the Ontario government. It is interesting that a part time contract employee, (not even a full time worker) had enough confidence to attempt to forward this email with such a racist comment to coworkers with no fear of sanctioning of any sort. The question is how do the full time workers conduct themselves? Are they laughing at racist comments and jokes and encouraging themselves to out do each other in such performances?

As one who is considered a visible minority, I, like many have come into contact with the subtleties of racism. Once, after speaking with a manager for 20 minutes, she asked me while reading through my resumé, "Do you speak English?" We had been speaking then, face to face, for twenty minutes, and she had never once misunderstood me. It is interesting that I now earn most of my income speaking.... and in English.

At another time, I heard a co-worker ( a nice person) make a similar joke about another person she had interviewed, and I protested. What about the many professional level organizations who repeatedly fail immigrants as they write exams of one kind or another to qualify as specialists in medicine or nursing or veterinary medicine or engineering, or law, citing always that the immigrants are in some way inferior, when many of us have met the professionals, trained here and are often amazed at their levels of competence or incompetence ? Yet, the lie continues in spite of the promotion of multiculturalism and political correctness.

So, some people look down on sensitivity training but I think it is a good thing. It speaks to behaviour if not to motives. It gives us time until a new generation grows up on diversity and anti racism training. As cultural beings, we are often programmed to discriminate in one form or another but it is absolutely crucial that people do not use their positions to close doors in other peoples's faces. Believe what you want, as limiting as that is for you. But keep it inside your house, for out here we must not tolerate it.

1 comment:

Atsu said...


this is a good, bold, and frank piece on a sensitive issue. you've said it like it is. Kudos.