2003-03-13 Holland Sentinel- What I learned about racism - Seminars don't solve problems

What I learned about racism
Holland Sentinel

To the Editor:

Register me (an aging white male) as opposing Mike Lozon’s premise (Sentinel, Tuesday) that seminars on healing racism are a waste. In fact, with changing demographics, it is good business to give employees a different view of how to respond within the markets served by an organization

I have attended three Summits on Racism, two Institutes for healing Racism workshops and was a part of a diversity-/inclusion team in my workplace. The recurring theme I hear from many (especially white women) is that they were raised in an intolerant home where parents or relatives told inappropriate jokes or used ethnic slurs.

They got involved in summits and institutes to be a part of the solution. While growing up, they felt unable to influence those attitudes, so they vowed to work on the issue as adults on the job and in the community. It would seem that many intolerant attitudes exist just under the public’s radar.

The practical ideas I received from the meetings I attended over the past two years are: (1) to speak out when offended by expressions of intolerance; (2) to move out of my comfort zone and develop a close friendship with someone of another race or culture to learn more about those not like me; and (3) be open to the possibility that the filters through which I look at life from do not always allow me, at first glance, to know what fair treatment is when it comes to race and cultural differences. I did not detect any thought control.

I thank Mr. Lozon for giving me yet another opportunity to practice the first idea. I am working to re-establish the second, and I am constantly processing the third to be sure I am making steady improvement in my journey. This issue does matter.

-Tom Lutz- Holland

Seminars don’t solve problems

To the Editor:

Though I seldom see eye to eye with Mike Lozon, in his critique of employer “guilt trip” training. I am in full accord. As one who is a workshop presenter (of professional-level seminars and law-related workshops), I have the same view of such so-called “diversity” sessions.

They are complete shams, and employers would do well to avoid them like the plague. But the same can be said of those workshops entitled “stress management.” Almost invariably, these stress management sessions are aimed at the lowest level employees, who are often overworked and underpaid.

Though they would like to reduce their workplace stress, those employees have no ability to control the stressors in the workplace-only management does. It is management that can reduce the workload and ameliorate other adverse conditions that cause the stress in the first place. Yet it is the employee, powerless to change the situation, who is sent off to the stress management program, only to return to the same old workplace with the same old stressors.

When the program does not solve the “problem,” the employee is blamed for not learning. The problems of stress are assumed to be a matter of the personality or ability of the worker, not the workplace and /or workload. The same applies to diversity. The employee is assumed to be racist. It is nothing less than what the communists used to call “retraining” –their euphemism for brainwashing.

Enough of this politically correct pity party. Let’s live out the Christian worldview as it ought to be, and such “problems” will fade away.

-Victor L. Edwards,-Park Township