Okay, So Apple's Accused Of Being A Racist Company...

The general sense that the black person operates according to different rules was eloquently demonstrated.

John McWhorter, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America

Negroes can be fascists, too.

Richard Wright (1902-1960), African-American novelist

The last time Apple was accused of being "racist," I clucked my tongue in disgust.

It was two years ago, and Jesse Jackson was criticizing Apple for not have the color black in its multi-hued logo, so to speak. The good reverend took Apple to task with the following weak argument: Apple has famous minorities in its initial "Think Different" ad campaign (Miles Davis, Jackie Robinson, Muhammed Ali), yet has no minorities on its Board of Directors. All I have to do is define "non sequitur" for you to see whatis wrong here. I also make these two suggestions:

  1. Ignore it: this is Jesse Jackson weire talking about
  2. Ignore it: this is Jesse Jackson weire talking about

You see, Jesse Jackson is an anachronism and a racial huckster.

I admit that, yes, racism still exists in America, but itis high time that we chuck 1960s responses to racism and move into the 21st century. That involves addressing any charges of racism with healthy doses of reality and skepticism.

According To MacCentral, an ex-product engineer worked for Apple from November 1998 to July 2001, during which he received above-average performance reviews. One day, this employee brought a friend to work in hopes of inspiring the friend to go on to college; the employee was subsequently fired as a result. The ex-employee claims that the firing was unjustified and that the firing was racially motivated. The ex-employee then filed a $40 million discrimination suit. Apple has made no public response to the charges.

I have no problem with the discrimination suit. Racism is alive and well in America, and it must be dealt with. But I donit believe it exists to the extent that the Jesse Jacksons of the world would have you believe. In todayis society, where statistics show that minorities and women have things a helluva lot better than ever, this allows us to meet every charge of racism with skepticism until such charges are soundly proven.

Iive come a long way to reach this opinion.

There are many times when bad and humiliating things have happened to me, on and off the job, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the motivation behind those bad and humiliating things were racial motivations. Those things made me angry. If I dwell on them, they can still make me angry.

But that was some time ago, and today, I have less desire to root out racism, real or imagined, behind every rock. Iim getting too old to be so angry.

However, I will leave the benefit of the doubt with the plaintiff in this case. He is suing Apple, but the racial incident, if it happened, was perpetuated by a specific individual or individuals; if found guilty, they should be punished. Apple is no different from other companies in that it must come to grips with the fact that in our increasingly diverse workplace, issues of race and gender will cause flare ups and accusations of racism, real and imagined.

As long as we are a "diverse" people -- God, I hate that word -- we will have to deal with things like this lawsuit that remind us that we still have a ways to go. After all, America has never had a history of racial beatitude, so there should be no surprises when we see glimpses that there is still a ways more before "we shall overcome."

A tangent: Furthermore, we must realize that in the corporate world, itis dog-eat-dog. In the mutual struggles to "get ahead," people often use whatever they can to do so, and they use every tool in the bag, sometimes at the expense of others. Some of those tools work against non-whites and females. Hey, thatis life. I worked for one company where a white boss screwed me -- in my mind -- and I would have sworn that it was racially motivated -- until the same thing happened to me at a subsequent job… where I had a black employer. Go figure.

Personally, I wouldnit attempt to pursue a discrimination lawsuit, even if I knew I had a case. Iid like to think that I would suck it up and move on. I wouldnit choose that hill to die on.

My problem isnit with the lawsuit, per se, but with the amount of damages being sought. Forty million dollars? Now, I know that lawsuits are games of negotiations and the rule is for the plaintiff to ask initially for some ungodly sum and for defense to counter with a significantly lower sum, both parties knowing they will "settle" somewhere in the middle, ideally. So, donit let the number alarm you. Thatis the way the game is played.

But still… is it really worth $40 million? And if so, where can I get one of those product engineering jobs? It beats Lotto.

All in all, I think itis high time that Apple was hit with a discrimination suit. It was their turn. Every big corporation, at any given time, has various lawsuits pending, in case you didnit know. You show me a major corporation that doesnit have some discrimination suit pending, and I will show you a company that is good at covering up its legal skirmishes.

Hell, Iim sure companies like Microsoft have lawsuit settlements as line items in their budgets.

By viewing Appleis latest racism charges through the twin lens of reality and skepticism, I offer the most logical suggestion to Apple: If Apple has any sense, they will settle quickly, and as one forum member suggested, fire the offending manager(s) if guilt is proven. Diversity issues are potholes in the road that canit be avoided for long by any company, even those that Think Different. People are people, and no matter how good the work environment is there will always be those employees who are willing to sue, and there are always those managers who will mess up and commit racial faux pas.

This, too, shall pass.

Now, about the iPod and that Megahertz thing…

Further reading:

Rodney O. Lain breaks the common racial stereotype, if it still exists: He loves to read, hates watermelon and respects Thomas Sowell, yet he always vacillates between the Democrat and Republican levers when he is in a voting booth. When he isnit publicly pondering the Race Question, he is a regular contributor to The Mac Observer with his "iBrotha" column, as well as the occasional editorial. Rodney lives in Minnesota, where the only other black people are Prince and Kirby Puckett.