You can determine what an institution values by how it spends time. Here’s two stories for you to decide if the institutions involved actually value their stated objectives by the time spent to achieve their goals.
The first story is personal, the other is corporate.
The epigraph for story one is this statement: I was rehabilitated in a day. Most react to that statement with an eyebrow raised in doubt and reply, “Must have been a long day.”
It wasn’t. The day was stretched out over a six-month period.
I got in trouble when I was a teenager, and I was sent to an institution that specialized in rehabilitating delinquent boys. Once a week I met with a counselor to help me overcome anti-social behavior, disregard for authority, and tendencies to resolve conflict with violence. The counselor assigned these pathologies to me based off a general psychological profile the institution used for all inner-city delinquents under its care.
But I didn’t fit the profile. The majority of the boys didn’t. So, during my counseling sessions the topics were sports and how I was getting along with others during the week.
What did we do all week?
This institution had work contracts and we were its labor force, starting at twenty-five cents an hour. We cleaned a minor league baseball stadium, washed police cars, and cut grass at cemeteries. Whoever excelled in these activities was said to have acquired the “work ethic” necessary for the woodshop positions. Here we made picnic tables and benches for park and recreation services.
Now, here’s some math.
In the woodshop a pair of boys, now making a dollar an hour, made two picnic tables during an eight-hour shift. The institution sold each picnic table for $450. That’s $900 for two tables. The labor cost was $16 total, minus material, and you can see the institution made a sizable profit.
We worked Monday through Friday, forty hours a week.
Now, let’s add up the time spent on counseling. These sessions were one hour a week. That’s four hours a month, and I was there for six months. 4 x 6 = 24 hours. You see, I was rehabilitated in a day.
Story two is the corporate response to the arrest of two Black men inside a Philadelphia Starbucks. Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner explained the police received a 911 call from Starbucks employees saying two Black men were trespassing. The officers were told that the men entered, sat down, and then asked to use the restroom, but didn’t purchase anything. The employee denied the request, citing company policy. (Restrooms can only be used by paying customers.) The officers “politely” asked the men to leave several times but the men refused. They were arrested and released when Starbucks declined to prosecute.
The arrest made national news. There was a local protest and Philadelphia’s mayor stated what took place in Starbucks “appears to exemplify what discrimination looks like in 2018.”
Naturally, the CEO of Starbucks didn’t want the company associated with racism, so Starbucks announced: It plans to close more than 8,000 stores for several hours on May 29 to conduct racial bias training/unconscious-bias education for nearly 175,000 employees.
I was rehabilitated in a day, but soon 175,000 Starbucks employees will break my record, because they’ll be rehabilitated in an afternoon.
(J. Pharaoh Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier. He blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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