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Racial Interest Groups - Nothing Is True
Question Yourself

Christopher Parker
Date: 2008-11-13 11:41
Subject: Racial Interest Groups
Security: Public
Music:HammerFall - Trailblazers
Tags:community, debate, equality, race
I recently had a heated debate with a coworker about a new interest group our employer announced this morning. I discovered that I get extremely worked up over situations like this, and I thought I would share my thoughts with others.

This morning, my employer announced a Latino-specific advocacy group, run by employees and supported by some of the higher-ups in the company. The purpose of the group is to teach others about Hispanic heritage and to aid the needy, with a focus on Hispanics and immigrants. While I feel the group itself is a good idea and that the cause of the group is just, as I assume it's run by people of Latino/Hispanic heritage, I feel that the company's decision to sponsor it is an implicit way of saying they value Hispanic/Latino heritage and people over others. My view is that by choosing to celebrate the heritage of only one racial group, the firm is also choosing to not celebrate the heritage of every other racial group. If the firm's intention is to sponsor groups like this for other racial groups in the future, or if the firm is open to similar groups for other ethnic groups, it should have stated so. Otherwise, I make the assumption that the firm values Latino/Hispanic heritage over, say, Germanic heritage, especially when part of the group's purpose is to provide financial assistance to Hispanic/Latino people/immigrants before those of other races/ethnic groups.

Is my reasoning really all that off-base? If this group existed on its own, I wouldn't have a problem with it (except for the preferential treatment toward Hispanics/Latinos by offering aid to them before anyone else). A Hispanic heritage group run by Hispanic people? Sure. That's cool. It's a community of people who share a common background getting together to celebrate their shared history and their culture. I don't have a problem with Irish American clubs, why would I have a problem with a Hispanic/Latino equivalent to them? However, just as I would feel an Irish special interest group would be inappropriate in a workplace setting, I also feel a Latino/Hispanic one is inappropriate, and sends messages of racial preference on behalf of the company. If the company wanted to celebrate racial/cultural diversity, it should have done so by supporting a multicultural group, instead of a group that gives one specific racial group representation.

And for the record, I am part Irish and part German, and I would be just as upset if it were an Irish or a German special interest group, instead.

I'm interested in others' opinions. What are your thoughts on the subject? If you disagree, why? I'd like to get others' opinions on the matter in order to compare my views with those of a larger group of people. I don't think my argument is extremist, but I've been wrong before.
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Au Contrarienne™: Fiesta
User: yardlong
Date: 2008-11-13 20:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I agree with you. Special interest rights end up being at the expense of human rights, and as someone very concerned with human rights, I can't go along with things like that.

Being involved with market research, I am keenly aware that big businesses in our capitalistic system are very interested in immigrants and how best to market (exploit) them. Hispanics are the primary target group, and additionally, the ones that are most wanted are the ones that speak Spanish and little English.
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Beth McMillan
User: teraspawn
Date: 2008-11-15 14:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think this group needs to be examined in a wider context, considering the backdrop of racism in society and in employment. What about an advocacy group for women in your company? Would you assume that they were treating women preferentially, or just that they were attempting to make up for the disadvantages that sexism confers on women?
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Christopher Parker
User: cparker
Date: 2008-11-25 19:50 (UTC)
Subject: General Interest vs Special Interest
In my opinion, instead of an advocacy group for women, in order to truly foster the spirit of equality, a company should have a sexism awareness workshop (sexism against men exists, too), an "equality in the workplace" workshop, or something similar. Otherwise, the group would naturally have a bias toward [insert demographic here]'s rights and benefits.
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November 2008