(NOTE: This was originally posted in January 2017. It’s actually big enough for 3 posts. It’s been updated to include not only the original points, but how they apply to those of us who own our own business.)
In 2017, he Charlotte Observer’s website ran a story about a legendary South Carolina barbeque joint that is trying to overcome a legacy of racism. The restaurant is more than 70 years old, now has 4th-generation family members working there, and in some circles is considered the originator of the SC mustard-based sauce on their pulled pork. The restaurant was also founded by one of the most egregious racists this side of Jefferson Davis. Maurice Bessinger was on another level. He didn’t just sell food, he also sold white supremacist literature – and would give you a discount on your food if you bought it.
He retired in 2010, turning the business over to his children. They immediately began removing the racist literature and Confederate flags. Bessinger died in 2014. The proprietors say, “We’re not trying to hide anything. We want to move forward.” People are wondering, now that the old man is dead and the kids have taken all the racist symbols out, is it OK to eat there? Or, by eating there, are you endorsing the old man’s racist life? Are the kids sincere, or are they just as racist and are putting on a friendly appearance to make more money? And if they are, does it matter?
These questions encapsulate the race relations issue quite well, in my opinion. And it’s the biggest pile of cow manure I have seen in a very long time.
Let’s get the last question out of the way first.. No, it doesn’t matter if they are motivated by profit. Why does anyone get up and go to work every morning? To make money. No matter how much you love what you do, you are not going to do it for free. While the wannabe-Communists are trying to convince everyone that making money is an evil act, you certainly don’t see them lining up to give their stuff away. No, they just want YOU to give up everything you have for “the greater good.” Nonsense. There is nothing wrong with making money.
On to the bigger questions. The true evil in this story is trying to pin the “racist” label on the kids for no other reason that they were born of a racist background. Each person is responsible for his/her own moral code. If you think all humans are not equal, and the skin color is what makes some less human than others – and therefore, inferior – YOU ARE STUPID. It doesn’t matter how Southern or Northern the latitude of your upbringing is, what the culture was, what Mama & Daddy believed, or anything else. YOU are responsible for what you think and believe.
Let’s apply this to a different scenario. Remember “Family Ties” from the 80’s? There was Alex P. Keaton, a teenage conservative in a family full of bleeding-heart liberals. I grew up in the same way. Many members of my family have never voted for anything other than a Democrat their entire lives. I was Republican until my conversion to Libertarianism 4 years ago. I could have easily followed the herd, but instead I chose some very unpopular stances. I developed my own convictions. It has served me well. While too many people spend all their waking hours quaking in fear of other people possibly not liking them, my conscience is clear, knowing my beliefs are my own and not a product of which direction the wind is blowing today.
The same applies to how you view others. Whenever you meet someone for the first time, you should assume this is a good person, someone you can work, socialize or worship with, that will enrich your life as a result of being in it. If this is a bad person, (s(he will make it obvious eventually. Their words and actions will make it obvious; you won’t have to do any of the work. The problem we have now is that we don’t often take this approach. The media bears a majority of the blame. I think it’s ridiculous that one of Charlotte’s TV stations has carved out time in its news broadcast for a feature called “the good news.” Why? Because 20 out of 30 minutes of a half-hour newscast is negative, and they run 9 minutes of commercials. They believe that’s what we want – all bad news, all the time. And they are using that belief to influence our thinking. Put as bluntly as possible, they want us all to hate each other.
If you watch any news broadcast, you will be clubbed over the head with things such as these:
- Are you a young, black man? Every police officer in the country wants you dead.
- Are you gay? Every person that claims to be Christian wants you to burn in hell, starting yesterday.
- Are you Middle Eastern? All Americans blame YOU for the 9/11/01 attacks and want you dead or deported.
- Are you Hispanic? The President once said you and everyone like you is a drug dealer and a rapist and wants you deported, so that’s what everyone who voted for him thinks.
- Are you female? All men want you in the kitchen, barefoot, pregnant, and obedient to everything the man tells you.
- Are you a white male? You are an elitist, privileged, homophobic, xenophobic, woman-hating racist, and every bit of this is YOUR fault. Slavery is also your fault – no, not the people that actually committed those atrocities hundreds of years ago, YOU are responsible. And whatever any of the previously mentioned groups demands of you, you must comply, otherwise you prove that you really are an elitist, privileged, homophobic, xenophobic, woman-hating racist.
And what do we do? Lap it up like a thirsty, obedient dog. We don’t think for ourselves.
You might be thinking, “OK, Mr. Ranting, Raving, Crazy Soap-Box Guy, what does this have to do with business?” Glad you asked.
Who are the people you hang out with? If they all look like you, there’s a chance you have bought in to all this insanity. Who are your customers and clients? If you have employees, do they all look like you? If so, that could be another sign you’ve bought in. (There are exceptions, of course, like the person who’s business is as a consultant to a specific group that needs help overcoming obstacles to start their own business. In that case, I would still look around to see who you hang out with.)
The most important things about running a business are ensuring your audience members’ needs are being met, and that you make a profit doing so. If we spend any effort excluding any type of person from that effort, we have to examine why. We must not let the outside forces make decisions for us. You must think for yourself.
Next up, I’ll tell my (for lack of a better phrase) diversity story, and a little more on the media influence.
Hopefully this writing gets you to thinking and make changes if necessary. If it’s helpful, and you could use a writer for your business venture, Contact Us.