It is no secret how racism and being judged by the color of your skin is a frustrating issue like some skeleton has just walked out of the closet. I wouldn’t say that this is new but it’s just got so fueled and disappointingly, similar incidents are on the rise.
Some talk about it and some don’t. Some are humiliated and remain silent while some take this opportunity to rise higher.
The incident that broke the news headlines about the two young Afro-American men being arrested for sitting ‘idly’ at a Starbucks outlet in Philadelphia was a blow to so many of us. This is the least most of us could accept as a ‘news’ in a nation that so rich because of its diversity. At least that is what we would live to continue to believe as.
I am an Indian and I come from the South East Asian subcontinent of this same world and in the last two years, I would lie if I said that I hadn’t experienced a look of judgment because of my skin color. What century are we in? The 21st or the paleolithic?
I’d be honest when I say that this approach did attempt to sow the seeds of low confidence while I visit public places. I won’t say that for everyone, but yes, I’ve had my share of subtle discomfort. I do not clearly understand whether this is because of the rise in the trend of judging people of color or because I live in one of those so-called ‘red states’ of the country.
But today, as I write this blog, I write because there is something that moved me about the whole Starbucks incident and I am sure, it moved many more people across the nation and the world. And that is, how these young men who were denied respect, responded to the whole situation and elevated people of not only one color but ALL.
After being put behind the bars, last month on account of the discrimination issue at Starbucks, Donte Robinson & Rashon Nelson has taken this amazing and brave opportunity to change the lives of not only themselves but of the hundreds and thousands of people who weren’t even involved in the first place.
Not only did they choose to not file a lawsuit against Starbucks, they settled with just $1 each ( a token so powerful to be remembered) but instead asked the city to fund $200,000 for a grant program for high school students aspiring to become entrepreneurs. Now, how empowering is that?
While support groups have been furious and have been reaching out to protest this shameful incident, the two young men who were denied basic human respect chose to go out of their way and set an example to the world that was not only peaceful and brave but also wise and enriching to many youngsters and to the not-so-privileged communities who need literacy and career definition to fit themselves in this fast-paced world.
On the other hand, is Kevin Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks setting an example of modern-day leadership by owning up to this incident, coming out in the public and taking measures to avoid the future recurrence of such embarrassment. Not only did he ensure the brand image of his company and probably added more loyal customers to Starbucks but also took a step ahead to initiate the racial bias training for his employees across the whole of the United States, mentor and support Nelson and Robinson to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
The fact that when the world seems in such a crisis of positive solutions, there is still some light and then there are these three people – Donte Robinson, Rashon Nelson, and Kevin Johnson who stood up to turn the whole situation around to benefit our communities, our faith in humanity and the basic right to human respect as a quintessential need of our times irrespective of colour and race.
Incidents such as these may not be a ‘forever news’ headline or a popular article on Google in the days to come but isn’t it true that it takes just one stone to create a ripple in the ocean? Just one person, to stand up in the right direction? One subtle but powerful move to be ten times stronger than many thousand moves?
This surge of change for the better that we are witnessing today, no matter how small they might be for now, no matter in what area they are taking place in, is the golden straw of hope for a better tomorrow, for ALL OF US.
** SO Proud- SO Grateful **