We were coming back home from volunteering yesterday evening, and at the traffic light, there was a big black pick-up truck in front of us. There was a sticker on it which I read as – ‘I love guns, titles and America‘ (You can check the images at the link) and something very nasty about Biden. I read it aloud and asked Adam, ‘How do titles fit in?’ and he corrected me that it was actually titties. And then the image suddenly made sense. I was horrified and said, ‘I found it hard to believe that the person in front of us and we inhabit the same planet. If the guy is married, does his wife approve of it?’ And he responded, ‘Very different mindset.’
And then I got back home and watched – White Hot: – The rise and fall of Abercrombie – Fitch documentary on Netflix. And that just led to a fascinating exploration of beliefs.
Abercrombie’s target customers were the prom kings and queens – cool kids. And to sell to them, they hired similar people in the stores – from a pure strategy perspective, it makes sense. Why would cool kids buy from nerds? And let’s be honest, marketing is all about targeting, and they do segmentation to ensure they get their customer base. So, where did Abercrombie go wrong – the segmentation crossed the line into discrimination? The exclusionary blended with racism? Who gets to decide what the line is?
Florida recently passed a bill – ‘Don’t say gay’ which means they won’t teach kindergarten – three-year-olds about the LGBTQ community. Honestly, we will have a generation of kids where the LGBTQ are shunned right from childhood. Is that the kind of exclusivity we are looking for? And when Disney opposed the bill, the Florida governor took away Disney’s rights to govern the Disney land. And the worst part is this is not fiction – it is happening right now as we speak and is allowed to happen.
Goldman Sachs announced that they would take a company public only if it had two diverse members, and one of them should be a woman. And its’s board of members are diverse, but the executive committee is still predominantly white (it has females – thank god for that), but the majority is still white. It is a good step in the right direction but is not enough to make a substantial change in mindset. It is hard for the majority to imagine how a minority feels about saying what they really mean.
Abercrombie put out a t-shirt saying ‘Two wongs make a right’, and two Asian American designers were on the team. The question here is not if you had an Asian American on your team but did you have a structure in place for them to a) first understand what is happening and b) voice their feelings safely?
If humanity has to thrive, then diversity needs to go beyond tokenism and be the very fibre of our beings. And this will only happen by bringing in diverse people and having a structure in place. Make diversity and inclusion topics a must – they must be actively encouraged, not tolerated by the privileged white members. In fact, they should be bringing it up – as the majority, they need to take the initiative.
If we started a retail store and put all the uncool kids in the front and cool kids in the storeroom – would that help? What if we made all the privileged white males at big corporates make copies and take notes – will that turn the tables? Or is it also discrimination? Can we generalize humans in this fashion?
Honestly speaking, I don’t know what is right and what is wrong. The one thing that I am sure of is that if we do not do something about this, the world can be a nasty place to live for some of us.
Are you aware of your privilege? What are you doing actively to raise the voices of people around you?