Signs of the Times - June 2016 - (Page 14)
Te c h no lo gy U p date
By Darek Johnson
is ST's Senior
Analyst. Email him
A Moment at Bar Louie's
A seemingly harmless statement.
Two possibilities exist: either we
are alone in the universe or we are
not. Both are equally terrifying.
- Arthur C. Clark
akley Station, Cincinnati's new
mall, features various enterprises:
a Cinemark theater, Kroger, retail
stores, office sites, Pottery-Barntype apartments and the Bar Louie
restaurant - an urban-professional,
bar and grill that serves designer
brews and fashion foods - Tilapia
Veracruzana, for example. A week
ago, I found myself seated alongside
20 or so inner-city schoolteachers
at Bar Louie's patio, which, on
that day, was crowded with noisy
happy-hour socializers. Cincinnati
was experiencing an early-spring
afternoon, one that granted Floridalike sunshine and electric-blue skies,
so everyone wanted to be outside.
The teachers, my wife's peers,
are always an animated group and
in this hyperactive environment,
they had become an energetic fusion
of colors, ages and nationalities. All
around, they energetically conversed in Spanish and English. Across
the table, with a glass of Bell's Amber
Ale in his hands, my friend Marcus
was skillfully voicing one-line zingers
up and down the table.
Marcus is popular in this group;
he once lived in Europe, can speak
in five languages and is writing a
book on his teaching experiences.
I have read his drafts and believe
it's one educational policymakers
should read because it tells a vivid
story of inner-city children's' fated
lives, the seldom-appreciated attributes of teachers, and the frustrations they experience when their
kids don't do well.
Bar Louie's server paced from
person to person and soon carried a
14 SIGNS OF THE TIMES June 2016
food-stacked plate to Marcus, who
saw that it belonged to another
teacher. He redirected the server
and beamed a remark upstream.
The mood was high and contagious,
so the server joined in, saying cheerfully to Marcus, "It's not my fault
- all those white people look alike."
A word bomb had just exploded.
Really. Try to see it with me, but
first let me define the crime:
Civil-rights lawyers describe the
server's seemingly harmless statement as a "micro-inequity," which
in a general American Bar Assoc.
definition refers to ways individuals are "singled out, overlooked,
ignored or otherwise discounted,
based on an unchangeable characteristic, such as race, gender
Essentially, a micro-inequity is
a subtle and often unconscious
message that directly devalues or
discourages another person.
In a mixed group of people - blacks,
Latinos and whites, i.e., people -
the white server's micro-inequity
remark had specifically identified
Marcus as a minority person - not
as an evenhanded and equal person, which Marcus had been just
moments before. Although trivial
and unpremeditated, the "look
alike" remark carried all the historic baggage that accompanies
such biases. Prior to the server's
comment, no skin colors populated the table. No minorities.
No outsiders. No accents - simply
people who were enjoying one
another's friendship. Nevertheless,
the server's remark, an archaic jibe
from some 1970's comedy show,
had isolated and classified Marcus.
Oh, he handled it - Marcus
laughed with the server, but in a
following moment, his countenance
briefly wavered. He frowned, looked
down at his hands and then lifted
his eyes to gaze beyond the wroughtiron patio fence and into the distance, but only for an instant. He
quickly rocketed over his emotions
and got back with the group by tossing more witticisms to his friends.
Most significant in this story
is Marcus's swift reload. It clearly
spoke of how quickly intelligent
people, when stung with insularity,
can get past useless reactions and
instead move on with their lives.
Dr. Bruce J. Stewart, writing on
civilrights.dot.gov website, describes
micro-inequities as small and
often subconscious messages of
prejudice - verbal or non-verbal -
that are usually generated by our
unconscious mind and subtle in
nature. Stewart, a retired US Air
Force commander, is deputy director of training, compliance and
strategic initiatives for the US
Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
He says such bias in the workplace
can affect productivity, management decisions, hiring, promotions, employee interactions and
Stewart quoted a National Urban
League survey (2004) that said
effective diversity programs are
associated with higher productivity (+18%) and that a Gallup poll
found that at any time, only 25%
of US workers were actively engaged.
One notable cause of disengagement,
Gallup said, relates to incidents of
Blame your brain
Stewart said prejudices and discrimination occur because our brains
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - June 2016
Signs of the Times - June 2016
Columns & Departments
Tips for Effectively Marketing Your Signs to Millenials
Technology Review - The Summa F Series F2630 Flatbed Cutter/Router
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Sign Museum News
Undertaking Monumental Tasks
The Light of Our Lives
Cool Digital Printers
Enter ST’s Vehicle Graphics Contest
Signs of the Times - June 2016