On the University of Virginia Alumni LinkedIn discussion group I was told by multiple members that they felt my sharing of an article about Howard Schultz’s letter to his employees in the wake of the immigration executive order was inappropriate because it’s partisan. If an open university discussion group isn’t the right place to discuss business and societal issues that impact our country, I’m not sure what would be the right place. The University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson who, among many other accomplishments, was one of the main authors of the Declaration of Independence. He was a great believer in and promoter of open debate and discourse.
I don’t mind people disagreeing with Howard Schultz and having reasoned arguments about their point-of-view. I mind being told that a business story that has a human element isn’t something worth sharing or discussing with alumni of a university I attended. By comparison, I shared this same post in the University of Pennsylvania alumni group and didn’t get a single comment like the ones I received from the University of Virginia alumni group. On the Darden alumni group, there was a single comment from an alum who said he was glad the immigration order was put in place because he doesn’t want to have to worry about Muslims shooting up his shopping mall. Ignorance is difficult to reason with.
Friends, I’m tired. Tired of explaining that discrimination of many varieties including prejudice based on religion, race, gender, and sexual orientation is alive and well in America. (Many of he UVA alums who commented on my post went on to say that they don’t think discrimination exists in the U.S.) I’m tired of hearing that we should embrace a leader who exemplifies every characteristic that a leader shouldn’t have. I’m tired of the constant justification of behavior that isn’t just.
I keep looking to our civil rights leaders of the past and present, and I marvel at their strength and perseverance in the face of hate. I wanted you to know that I appreciate so many of you sharing your stories of what’s happening to you and people whom you know. I admire your fighting spirits. You raise me up.
Certainly, I have been the target of prejudice in the form of sexism in both the workplace and in society. I try very hard to put on my armor and not let it get me down so that I can keep doing the work I know I’m meant to do. But some days, the load is heavier to carry than others and today is just one of those days. I’m disappointed in these UVA alums who felt compelled to send me these kinds of messages, and I’m also angry that I let them get to me so much.
I’ll feel better in a little while. I’ll pick up the mantle again and keep fighting for the rights of all people. I hope you will, too. And when you get down, please reach out. The only way we’re going to slog through this is to slog through it together.