From a company's perspective you can't assume it's one employee. After all that was just one customers experince. Good businesses, like Starbucks, know this and recognize that corporate culture sometimes needs a reset and they closed down yesterday to do just that. The number of cases like this on Southwest in the last year suggest that they may need a cultural reset too. I started flying Southwest when I was living in Texas in the early 1980s. There was a charming humorous culture then that they've had to lose a bit of in recent years as they're in much more multicultural markets like California Chicago and the northeast. It's a lot easier to offend with the lame old jokes that I loved. But losing bad jokes to prevent personal offense is a fair trade. As they stretch their wings more to South and central America they'll need to have a resiliant easy-going corporate culture that can deftly handle an increasingly diverse market with charm. They'd be wise to use this incident and others as a wake up call to re-train their employees to leave any of the biases they may have at home when they go to work. It's not enough to hire a diverse workforce and assume that's enough; they have to be vigilent to protect us from one another. They don't have time for fools like that gate agent.
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Today's story about a mother with a biracial baby having to prove the child was hers was disturbing as she was held to a different standard of proof than other mothers. This is not the first incident of this type on Southwest this year, about the sixth I've heard of. Coming on the day of Roseanne's extreme racism and the day that Starbucks took a day off to brief it's employees on everyday racism is a curious twist. There's a special on MSNBC tonight on everyday racism that all SWA employees should watch.
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