Ace's View

Dedicated to minority issues, topics and everything in between

Canaries and Coal Mines: On Adria Richards

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Even though the furor over the whole Adria Richards Tweet-gate has seemed to die down, it really doesn’t take away from the fact that still, even after all we’ve learned about minorities in any field and how they are often the butt of jokes, bullying and exclusion—

–we still excuse the perpetrator’s behavior or attempt to minimize what wrong they’ve done by saying, “well, so and so blew xyz out of proportion.”

Which is why I believe that the screenshot above, taken directly from her twitter feed, speaks volumes about what behaviors we should reward and consider heroic.

For those unfamiliar with the story or too lazy to click the link, here’s a quick summary: Woman at conference where there are few women already hears male colleagues behind her making inappropriate (and corny) sexual jokes.  Woman takes picture of men, posts to Twitter.  Event organizers hear of it, speak with men, one of whom eventually loses his job.  Woman also loses her job after controversy erupts.

And yet, the biggest debate is whether or not she took things too far by standing up for herself and calling attention to the offensive behavior.  Even in the story I linked to, the first thing that comes up after a description of what happened is the question about how SHE could have handled the situation better.

Here’s what I think:

I’ve often been told that I take things too seriously, especially when it comes to matters of race.  And I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes this is accurate.

But seeing things through the eyes of someone who has been bullied for everything from race and skin shade to size to coming from a two-parent household (never understood that one, to this day), you eventually do one of two things with being marginalized:

1) Develop an extremely thick skin to the point where nothing bothers you, at all, as a defense mechanism, and become desensitized to the point where you ignore any of the symptoms of being targeted because of your differences, or

2) Implode and self-destruct because of holding in your feelings or explode and verbally, physically, or spiritually harm one or more people.

I’ve been both of those people at different points in my life, on all points of the spectrum.  And I have to say, I’m not usually proud of or satisfied with the results from either of the two.

Wouldn’t it just be easier to ask for a third, more viable option, where we just simply ask others to treat people well from the beginning and act accordingly to the values that we say that we hold dearly?  Is it too much to ask people to not make inappropriate jokes at work or work events where others have to choose between cringing and remaining silent or having to make the situation more awkward by telling another adult how to behave?

Wouldn’t it be easier to teach your kids not to stare at people who look different than them in Wal-Mart?

Would it not be easier to accept people as they are, as long as their differences aren’t harming you, and embrace them rather than isolating them?

Isn’t it be easier to treat others how you would want to be treated?

I may have answered my own question(s).  Apparently, it’s not that easy. 

Doing nothing and standing by or ignoring the problem is much easier. 

But canaries back in the day didn’t have that option.  Sometimes you do have to sacrifice yourself to make a stand for what you believe is right. 

So for a second, today, please take a moment to remind yourselves that people are people.  Like you.

And despite this post being inspired by and starting with Adria Richards’ story, please be reminded that there should be no need for canaries in coal mines anymore. 

We, too, should be more advanced by now as human beings.

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Written by aceviewblogger

March 29, 2013 at 9:35 am

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