Sometime after the Deepwater Horizon disaster a helicopter full of oil industry regulators, all presidential appointees, traveled from D.C. to visit the rig. The most senior person, as in position not age, rated Secret Service protection. I’ll refer to this individual as VIP, to protect the guilty.
When the chopper landed, we escorted VIP and company from the heliport into a conference room for a short safety orientation–rig ops, location of lifeboats and the types of alarms and their meanings, that sort of thing. VIP took a seat, politely coughed, then placed clasped hands on the table and looked around the room. We held our collective breaths—me as the companyman, the toolpusher, the captain, the drilling manager, and various corporate uppity-ups who had arrived the day before to hobnob with the elite—and waited for some profound adage that would carry the day. After all, this person worked for the president. Has to be the smartest of the smart. Then, VIP sighed and said, “Where is the minority and women representation?”
Now, I ask you, who looks at people that way? Who looks at a group of human beings, picks out every man who is not white, all females no matter their color, and assumes those individuals have been dealt a bad hand and both deserve and would accept a leg up?
We have women on the rig. Some are black. Some are white. One is, like, brown. She’s a Filipina. We have black men, too—drillers, assistant drillers, toolpushers, 1st mates, crane operators, roustabouts and chefs. You name them. They are crew members, part of the team. When someone asks me about my crew, I don’t say, “I’ve got 42 white guys, 6 Mexicans, 18 blacks, 4 women, and 1 Thai, but he was born in Texas.”
The men of color I work with are men. The women are women. To assume they need or deserve anything other than what they earn by toting their fair share of the load for 12 hours everyday is an insult to them. Just like it would be to me.
Imagine this scenario.
Ralph walked up to Bob and held out a C-note.
Bob glanced at the bill, then looked at Ralph. “What’s that for?”
Ralph shrugged. “Well, you’re black, so I just assumed ….”
Comments like VIP’s are just as insulting and ignorant.