Black Meetings and Tourism

May/June 2014

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B M & T ••• May/June 2014 ••• 4 O ver the last few weeks, the headlines have been dominated by reports of racist remarks attributed to LA Clippers' owner Donald Sterling. His outra- geous rants, which included highly offensive ref- erences to African-Americans, were recorded and subsequently made public on news media across the nation, and across the world for that matter. The reaction was predictable – demands for player boycotts, for stripping him of his fran- chise ownership, and for the imposition of hefty fines, to name a few. Also predictable was the chorus of those who expressed utter shock and disbelief that anyone could still harbor such big- oted views in this day and age. What they deem as a post racial society. Really? Is there anyone out there in our read- ing audience that truly believes Sterling is the only person who holds such abhorrent views? If you do, you need to take off the blinders, and as Iyanla Vanzant says on her Fix My Life show, "Call a thing a thing!" In my opinion, Sterling is not the only person who shares these views. He was just clumsy enough and arrogant enough to be exposed. You don't have to look very far to find other PUBLISHER'S MESSAGE Solomon J. Herbert Publisher/Editor-In-Chief E-Mail: Black Meetings & Tourism is published bi-monthly by SunGlo Enterprises, 20840 Chase St., Winnetka, CA 91306-1207 •Telephone: (818)709-0646/Fax: (818) 709-4753 Copyright 2014 by SunGlo Enterprises. All rights reserved. Single Copies, $6.00 Subscriptions $45.00. Postage Paid at Pasadena, CA. •Postmaster send address changes to Black Meetings & Tourism, 20840 Chase St., Winnetka, CA 91306-1207. examples of similar behavior. The treatment of President Barack Obama by those, including some elected officials, who have shown extreme disrespect for him and his office comes immediately to mind. The image of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer chastising the president in public while waving her fin- ger in his face, or Rep. Joe Wilson shouting out "You Lie" dur- ing an Obama Health Care speech before congress would have been unthinkable during any previous administration. But with a Black guy in the White House, the rules changed. I doubt any of this would have ever happened had it not been for the color of our president's skin. Which brings me back to our own meetings/tourism/hos- pitality arena and its historical lack of diversity and inclusion. I know many gifted and indeed brilliant executives in this indus- try who are capable and prepared to take on positions at the highest levels, including heading up a CVB (see "Who Will Be The Next Black CVB Pre sident/CEO" on page 28 of this issue). Yet, there are only 11 Black CVB presidents/CEOs out of nearly 500 convention & visitor bureaus. That translates to only 2 percent. And while we'd rather not address or even admit that bias exists in the industry that we love, if we are to ever achieve and embrace true diversity, we cannot continue to sweep this issue under the rug. I believe that there are people of power and influence in our industry who consciously or unconsciously share s ome of Donald Sterling's views. And while they may be few and far between, if the overwhelming majority of fair minded and pro- gressive thinking folks do nothing or say nothing to push back against those misguided few, then they will prevail and little will change. We must all take responsibility for helping our industry to reach its full diversity and inclusion potential. The next time a position opens up in your shop, and the most qualified candi- date competing for the job h appens to be a person of color, don't be afraid to speak up and let the decision makers know how you feel. And if you are ever again tasked with conducting a search for a CVB president/CEO or other senior level man- agement position, be sure you don't forget to include outreach to the African-American segment as part of your due diligence. You, your organization, and our industry will be all the better for it.

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