What if someone in your family – not a spouse or child, not even a close cousin or aunt, but a distant cousin through marriage whom you don’t even know – called the police on someone who wasn’t doing anything criminal. The person in question was not following a rarely enforced neighborhood ordinance about the number of outside guests allowed at your pool. Now, let’s say the police responded to your cousin’s call and escorted the person away because she still refused to leave?
You may say that it seemed a bit much for your second cousin on your father’s brother’s wife’s side of the family to be so petty, but it really has little to do with you. Stay with me now. Your great grandfather, the patriarch of your family, gets wind of it and demands that all members of your entire family tree get together in regions and undergo sensitivity training because he refuses to have anyone in the free world think that anyone in his family is like petty cousin. You all have to take off work and pay to travel to central locations throughout the country for this mandatory training.
Now you might be thinking it a bit extreme to require everyone to pay for what one random family member did on one occasion. Why couldn’t the cousin and her crew undergo the training and simply pass the information on to the rest of us? That would make sense. But great granddad has more. He rallies to have the neighborhood pool remove the prejudiced rule and allow unlimited outside guests at the pool. In order to look sensitive and not get bad press, the neighborhood association acquiesces, and the guest limit is removed.
Word spreads, and within a month your cousin’s neighborhood pool has become overcrowded. There isn’t room for the families that live there to enjoy the pool, even though their dues are what pay for the pool. Now, even though it makes sense to limit the number of people allowed in the finite sized pool, no one can say anything to those coming from other areas for fear of being demonized, labelled prejudiced, or sued. It seems to be a lose-lose situation. The people who live in the neighborhood cannot enjoy their pool, and the people taking advantage of the leniency are enabled to be even more selfish and inconsiderate.
This story may seem extreme and ludicrous, your distant cousin a bit too petty, and the person breaking the rule a bit too entitled to do as she pleased. Yet, rules are in place for a reason. Just because you don’t like it, or think it is being enforced inconsistently or unfairly, doesn’t give you the right to disregard it. Instead, you might assist in affecting change in the rule’s lack of enforcement.
Now, to make the story more relatable, consider plugging in the title store employee for your cousin, the name Starbucks for great grandfather, and two minorities refusing to purchase anything in a business establishment for the person. Aaahhh, now there’s the rub.
As a result of a highly publicized incident in a Philadelphia Starbucks coffee shop, the chain spent millions of dollars closing all stores nationwide to conduct anti-bias training to all its employees, as well as reaching a settlement with the men involved. Last month, two men were asked to comply with a simple company policy that bathrooms are for paying customers only; a policy that doesn’t seem to be regularly enforced at that location. When they refused to make a purchase and remained seated, police were called and the gentlemen were peacefully removed from the premises.
It looks as though the Starbucks employee overreacted to the men refusing to make a purchase, and the location seems to be inconsistent in enforcement of their policy. They must take responsibility for that. The gentlemen did not comply with the store policy, regardless of how ill-enforced it was, and they must take responsibility for that.
I will wager a guess that it was a lot easier for you to determine a proper course of action in the first story because your thinking was clear and unbiased when it did not have an element of race. Perhaps, we should try this level of unbiased objectivity when approaching the emotionally charged rhetoric that is our media today.