“Canteen Culture” of Racism

After participating in the puzzle in class the other day, I, being a member of the group who lacked event the basic resources to finish the puzzle, decided to investigate into the presence of institutionalized and personal-mediated racism in our daily life.  It was then that I came across this article in the Scotsman post about the rising racist environment in the airline industry.  Today in age we recognized three levels of racism:  institutionalized, personally-mediated, and internalized racism.  Unfortunately there is strong evidence that suggests that institutionalized racism paves the path for the latter two.  A history of segregation, discrimination, and unequal opportunity has its consequences in the mindset of people today.  Being only 50 some years post-Civil Rights Movement means that those biases and superior mindsets are still present in today’s workforce, public structure etc.  Efforts to eradicate this institutionalized racism, such as affirmative action, desegregation, equal voting opportunity, and many more are just small steps to changing how society accepts minorities and ethnically diverse people.  Unfortunately, saying that things are now fair and equal to all races is the minimal requirement that this nation needs top address in order to completely eradicate racist tendencies.  it is people who shape the policy and structure of society, thus it is the mindset of those people who need to embrace a non-discriminatory approach to their work environment.  In addition, it becomes the responsibility of each individual company, school etc, to provide available and just services for those who wish to report a racist or bias incident.  The availability of these services means that employees, no matter their rank should feel comfortable to bring a claim to the company free from fear of losing their job or being considered a “jock,” as is the case in the article concerning the BA captain.  Furthermore, the “just” portion of these services must be implemented in order to ensure that a complaint does not fall on deaf or disinterested ears.  Unfortunately in the case of this article, the pilots’ complaints were left unanswered.

We hear it every day.  Racist jokes passed between friends about other minority groups.  But this so-called harmless “name calling” is more than just fun-and-games.  While students may find it entertaining to poke fun at other racial groups (even if there are members of that racial group participating), the reality is that these people are participating in a form of personally-mediated racism which can ultimately establish a routine of racist remarks in a more professional and censored environment in their future careers.  It happens in the airline industry everyday. Imagine flying for hours in cockpit with just a few other crew members who have  a level of time and freedom to speak candidly about other crew members or there passengers’ ethnicity that they have flown with in the past.  As senior pilot of British Airways attests, there is a canteen culture of racist remarks that are thrown around in the cockpit on daily basis.  Despite being briefed with classes such as “diversity in the cockpit,  pilots tend to feel that their uncensored comments are acceptable, and the small cockpit environment makes it intimidating for any crew member to immediately chastise a particular comment.

In addition to the racist comments witnessed by Mr. Maughan of British Airways, the airline industry, specifically the Air Force Academy frequently report that despite the military’s exemplary record of opening doors to minorities, only about 300 of nearly 15,000 pilots in the Air Force are African-American.  Obviously there is some inherent factor that is causing African-Americans to either not consider the Air Force as a career or causing them to drop the program at  higher rate than any other minority.  Ultimately, Captain Maughan’s complaints of racial and derogatory remarks in the airline industry went unheard by authorities.  His concern is if someone of his seniority cannot invoke a response by authorities in his company, then how is anyone else lower in the totem pole supposed to be heard?  This culture of racism is a problem that extends the globe and all ethnic groups today.  Individuals should be mindful of how there remarks affect those in their surrounding and companies should spend more time ensuring that their employees are respectful off their other crew members and passengers.  As we can see from this article, it takes both personal and collective commitment to change these forms of racism in our companies today.


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