What Joe Vento did in Philadelphia I think may or may not have been good for his business, depending on the type of customers he seeks to serve. We know that from a business perspective, diversity does not just make moral sense, but it also is economically advisable in any way, from hiring more diverse sales reps to appeal to other cultures or even considering the idea of global trade. Without diversity, there is no business to be had. Diversity will happen no matter how large or small an industry is. Because if you won’t cater to those who are different, someone else will, and they will take home the profit. And then there are companies within industries that pride themselves on being different and going against the mainstream. There are others in the restaurant business I can think of such as Hooters, who deliberately alienate most of the population. There is also a show I have seen on television one or two times that is based on a huge bar that wants tough bikers exclusively as customers. They certainly wouldn’t be afraid to post a sign about what they don’t want, and people would keep coming. I guess the point I am trying to make is that if Joe Vento’s best customers in his neighborhood feel as he does, than it could actually drive business. Of course, morally I would hope that is not the case, however obviously those people exist and everyone has a niche.
I think what the bookstore owner effectively did was post a sign that was negatively charged with racial undertones, but rather in the break room of the store, where the employees could see it but not the customers; In other words, just a more cowardly version. And I say “more cowardly” although it sounds wrong grammatically, because what Vento did was cowardly, but this is dirtier. Vento had the wrong belief, yes, but at least it can be said that he stood behind his words. Whereas every Spanish speaker, a majority of the population I would argue, is going to walk in that bookstore and will either not receive the help from the staff needed or purchase items from cashiers who will not be able to ask for their loyalty card or tell them how much they loved the book being bought. Overtly, the customer may not recognize right away what exactly was off about that New Haven bookstore, I am sure that it happens time to time still, but the negative impression will be there. They will not return. And the staff of that bookstore is being forced to do the dirty work. Sure, Spanish people work at the store, so you can’t blame management, but the lack of Spanish could easily be blamed on the staff who cannot accomodate these people without losing their jobs. But Spanish-speakers don’t know this, all they know is no one is talking to them and wondering why they can’t find Don Quijote in the Literature Section.
And now, here’s this guy who owns a bookstore in one of the more progressive states around. He receives solicitations to order popular materials in Spanish to sell at his store. He throws them away. When he calls a business and has to press one for english his blood pressure rises at such an indignation upon his valuable time. When he has a Hispanic server at a restaurant he will tip him automatically less, or not at all, and have a worse time than he would have with a white server. At least that’s what he tells himself. And then comes the day, not so far in the distant future, that no sign in any state is not written without both Spanish and English. And pressing one will be a thing of the past, as everyone is bilingual now, and the bookstore owner won’t be there on that day because the bookstore will be long gone, as well as any business that chooses to ostracize the majority of their customers.
Diversity is not the strength of this country. If it were, things would be a lot different. Americans have no one to blame but themselves for importing millions of slaves into this country, precisely because they were not white, and then acting suprised when they were here to stay, not to work but to live. And yet illegal immigrants are treated as some of the worst types of people in this country. I’m sorry, but just because slavery was legal doesn’t make it even a little bit morally sound. Poor Mexico, before they knew they were immigrants they were out of this country. And they never even got a chance to be enslaved. It sounds bad, but that’s the ways things are sometimes, especially when the government is involved. If this country used diversity as its strength, the defense budget might just be a couple billions less.
In general, in the pure business interest of diversity, employers should NOT be prohibited from telling their employees what or what not to speak. It is not a matter of allowing anyone to do or not do a thing. It is a matter of the employees respecting themselves enough to work for another company, or of the customers knowing they are valuable enough to shop elsewhere. Simply, in the survival of the fittest, dog-eat-dog competitive nature of business, the dumb ones are not going to cut it. And tax dollars shouldn’t have to be spent on something as morally simple as that