Big Pimpin for MLK Day?

Yeah. I couldn’t believe it either when blogger-friend Ben McCall shared this on Facebook.

It’s a flier for a party over the MLK Holiday weekend circulating around the internet.

President Obama as a pimp?!? On Martin Luther King, Jr’s holiday?!? 21+ Pimps and 18+ Hoez … with a strict dress code?!? How “strict” can the dress code be for a pimp or a ho?!? WTW?!?

WOW!!!! Just … wow!!

There were comments from some who said the image was racist because of its depiction of our nation’s first Black POTUS in such a derogatory manner to advertise a celebration around the MLK Holiday … Perhaps that’s true. I don’t know who created the image or what their intentions were.

What I know for sure is the image and timing of it make me uncomfortable. It is an inappropriate way to depict the President, especially around the time of the MLK Holiday. And referring to men and women as “pimps” and “hoez” is in poor taste. If I were thinking of going to that party, this would make me stay home.

And if you were thinking of going, sorry! It was yesterday. You’ll have to wait for Big Pimpin ’13 …

Now that a few days have passed since I first saw the flier, it occurs to me that I may have been too lenient on it. Perhaps my reaction was too casual. Perhaps I should have been outraged and made some calls or wrote an email or blasted someone on twitter or something.

Has my time in HR has made me “soft”?

I’ve seen really unbelievable stuff in HR. Blatant and flagrant acts of discrimination, harassment and bullying that would make your jaw drop. Stuff that would make you say “that chick is a racist” or “that dude has serious issues against women.”

But I don’t say that. Because I’m not concerned with that when I’m looking into a discrimination or harassment complaint.

I’m concerned with what is appropriate versus inappropriate. I am concerned with what aligns with the spirit of our policies and practices versus what doesn’t. I am concerned with what is lawful versus unlawful.

Holes in your bedsheets and an Outlook appointment marked “3K Rally”? Not my problem. Call someone the N-word or B-word or some other divisive, negatively-charged word in the workplace? You will get dealt with. Swiftly.

See the difference? I do. And until I saw this flier, I was OK with the fine-ness of that line. Now I wonder if it is enough … And I imagine others out there struggle with the same thing.

I know I won’t answer that question in this blog post. I don’t think I could answer that question if I dedicated months of blog posts to finding the answer. I will have to keep answering for myself with each issue that comes my way.

But I know the answer to one thing: Martin Luther King, Jr. did not spend his life fighting against hatred and ignorance so we could celebrate his birthday by “big pimpin” in any sense of the word. We should not insult his work or his sacrifice (or the work and sacrifice of those who worked with him) or diminish it with foolishness.

And the next time you are faced with a harassment or discrimination complaint or a question of appropriateness or a call to action but don’t quite know what to do, remember these quotes from Dr. King:

  • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”
  • “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
  • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
  • “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  • “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  • “The time is always right to do the right thing”
  • “A right delayed is a right denied.”
  • “What affects one in a major way, affects all in a minor way.”
  • “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

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