Facebook brings out the worst in all of us, including me.
I lived in St. Louis for seven years. My first HR job was at Leaf Candy Company. We made Switzer, Good & Plenty and Chuckles. It was a busy and vibrant factory, later featured in a Michael Moore movie when Hershey USA purchased the brands and killed those union jobs by moving production to Mexico thanks to Bill Clinton, Al Gore and NAFTA.
(It was all so confusing.)
The factory was located on the north side of St. Louis. We recruited heavily from North County. I saw some pretty fucked up stuff during my short time at the plant. Racism. Violence. Drug abuse. Neglect. Illiteracy. Unbelievable poverty and hunger.
(That job changed my life.)
I don’t own the facts, and I’m not an expert on institutional racism in America, but I am dumbfounded by the awful things my HR colleagues are saying.
It’s a media conspiracy. St. Louis isn’t a racist town. It’s out-of-town black activists who are making a big deal out of this. And why doesn’t anyone say anything when a black kid kills other black kids? Why aren’t black people stepping up and protecting their property from looters? And how many cops are killed daily by black kids? And did you know that black activists are being bussed in to protest?
How do you argue with that? You don’t. You read Facebook in your hotel room when you are stranded due to a cancelled flight. Then you FaceTime with your husband and take this photo because you’re frustrated with morons on the internet and goofy photos make you laugh.
HR is the one part of a company with a mandate to push for social change and create a culture of understanding and inclusion. I know HR people who use code words to say racist things. I have friends who confuse fact with opinion and arrive at racist conclusions. I talk to people with clumsy language who try to make a point about race and wind up saying racist things. I know people who have never said a racist thing in front of me until they spoke about what’s happening in Ferguson. I know people who view history from a privileged lens and don’t understand how they can be racist. I know people who say, “Stereotypes exist for a reason.”
I am not marching in solidarity on the streets of Ferguson, but I’ve been deleting racist colleagues on Facebook. That’s the best I can do from my hotel room on a Sunday night.
And I can post fun pictures. That’s something, I guess.