The experience that Richard Cohen relates in his most recent column:
My first real job was with the New York office of a national insurance company. Sexual harassment was a problem, for sure. But the term did not yet exist and the problem was not formally recognized.
We had no acknowledged diversity problem, either. In fact, we simply had no diversity. African Americans, Hispanics — you name it: None. Our office was exclusively white and not by accident. When I asked my boss why we had no black employees, he told me directly that it was his policy not to hire any. And when once, by accident, a temp agency sent over an Asian file clerk, she made the mistake of using the common ladies room. Women from the office next door demanded she be fired. She was.
is very different from mine. My first real job was with a very small company. I had multiple female colleagues—my peers. Their style was somewhat different from that of the men but no one doubted their competence. To the best of my knowledge there was zero sexual harassment.
My second real job was with a much larger company. I had female subordinates; I had female peers; there were female managers. Some of my colleagues were black or Asian. There were no Hispanics because it was before the enormous influx of mostly Mexican workers into the United States. The country only had a Hispanic population of about 5% and most of those were in California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Here in the Midwest the Hispanic population was extremely small. That was nearly 50 years ago.
I attribute the difference in our experience to his having grown up and spent most of his life in the virulently racist and sexist Northeast rather than the Midwest.
As far as bigotry goes, in my family it was just about the worst sin you could commit. I’ve been the victim of anti-Catholic bigotry for just about as long as I understood there were different religions. I suspect that Mr. Cohen is no stranger to anti-Semitism.
IMO we made substantial advancements in equality of the races and sexes from 1950 onwards, that stopped around 1990, and we’ve been going in reverse since then. Recently, I’ve been subjected to anti-white racism for the very first time in my life. It’s not as overt as people spitting on you or calling you names but it’s obviously there. And agism is a daily experience. Not tremendously surprising since I’m now the oldest person in any given meeting.