Saturday, September 3, 2016

It's not about my skin

Check another item off the adulting list - this past week I served on a jury. Not any old jury either - Federal Court. Before you get too excited or anxious like I was - turns out my version was pretty anticlimactic. For starters I was on a civil case (as opposed to criminal) and then, after 2.5 days, the two parties settled... We didn't even get to deliberate! Whomp Whomp. 
But the importance of the case I got the witness and the message I took away cannot be understated. A young lady was suing a former employer regarding her eventual dismissal on the grounds of racial discrimination. The equal opportunity laws in the country are protected federal rights, and to see it in action - as opposed to seeing people with no actual experience with it, complain about it - was incredibly interesting and disheartening. 
As it turned out in this case, the employer did such a poor job with their records, supervising and overall track record that we the jury badly wanted to convict them for being shitty alone. But as it also turned out - it was very much believable that race played a role in all of it. No - no one was caught on tape using the N-word or anything overt like that - but it was there... It - Racism - was alive and well in that environment. 
Day 2 saw the plaintiff on the witness stand all day long - and after being bombarded by the defense with questions about when or where she was overtly treated in a racist manner - she said this key thing.., "Racism isn't about my skin, it's not about that - it's about the power you choose to wield over me when you decide to devalue me to make me less worthy of what I've worked so hard for". 
That. That's it right there folks. Racism is about the fact that someone of my equal footing in every other way - education, financial bracket, wants, needs, desires etc- is way less likely to achieve a promotion or raise or any achievement... Because why? WHY? 
This young lady's only wrong doing was choosing to stay at work when she was behind rather than attend an offsite function - and that was it. 
I'm very much never going to forget her and while my heart knows money doesn't change a thing - I am overjoyed they settled and she got compensated for her losses at hands of their ignorance in action. 

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