Aisle Of Wit

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Am I A Minority?

It’s a simple, and, on the surface, a fairly ludicrous question.

I can look at statistics, and in the mirror, and I can make the following empirical observations, p

— I’m white.  In 2021, 59% of U.S. citizens are . (Statista)

— I identify as heterosexual.  In 2021, 93% of U.S. citizens identify as white.  (Gallup).

— I was born in the United States.  In 2020, 86.5% of U.S. citzens were as well. (Statista).

— I’m in the 50-64 age bracket.  In 2021, just under 20% of U.S. citizens also were.  As noted yesterday, that’s the second largest age cluster, just behind 20-34s–note to all of you who think anyone over 49 isn’t worth spending a dime to market against.

— I’m male. (I don’t just identify as one).  In 2021, 49.5 of U.S. citzens are, too. (Statista).

My deep professional experience and training seems to confirm that on the first three qualifiers, I’m most definitely in a majority, on the fourth I’m in a strong plurarity and, in the fifth, I’m essentially a push.

But as I saw the alerts come through yesterday on the departure of David Nevins as the CEO of the Paramount Premium Group, and who had recently served as CBS’ top executive after Les Moonves’ abrupt departure, and the announcement of Rob Wade as the new CEO of FOX Entertainment, I began to ponder some more uncomfortable facts connected with these moves:

— Nevins–white, male, over 50, born in the U.S. and straight– is being replaced by a triumverate of executives, most notably Chris McCarthy, czar of Paramount Media Networks, who will add Showtime to his list of networks under his watch, and George Cheeks, currently CEO of CBS, who will add BET and PTVS to his purview.  McCarthy is openly gay.  Cheeks is black.

— Wade is replacing Charlie Collier as FOX’s CEO.  Collier, by all reports readily available, is also white, over 50, born in the U.S. and straight.   Wade was born in the UK.

Now look around the landscape of other top executives currently holding important roles running networks, streaming services and media companies:

— The chairman of NBCU Entertainment Networks is a female born outside the U.S.

— The chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content is female.

— The chairman of the Media and Entertainment Division of Disney is black.

— The three top lieutenants at Amazon Prime Video to its chairman are, respectively, female, black, and Asian-American.

— The heads of Sony’s two television production divisions are, respectively, a white female and an African-American female.

— The heads of Warner Discovery’s networks are, respectively, an openly gay male, and two females.

And yes, quite a number of them are under 50.  Or at least younger than me.

If this is uncomfortable for you to read, PLEASE believe me, it’s far more uncomfortable for me to write.  Many of these people are respected colleagues, some even have been friends and confidents at one point.  I’m petrified these observations may forever ruin what’s left of those connections.

And, to be more than fair, many of those who have been annointed to their current positions are top-notch leaders with outstanding track records, and well-respected amongst their peers and their boards.

I am NOT saying that I’m remotely qualified for any of these top level media jobs.

But I’m know I’m exceptionally qualified to work as a staffer, ally, advisor or consultant to any of them.  Indeed, at various points in my career, I have.  And performed damn well when I had the opportunity, as justified by the promotions, reviews and bonuses I was blessed to have along the way.

Well, I haven’t been quite as fortunate, nor in hindsight have I made the best life choices.  What I do know is that virtually all of that largesse is gone.  And I also know that in the last 29 months I’ve been turned down for hundreds of jobs, not only in media, but in other businesses.

Don’t you dare wag a finger at me and say it’s completely my fault.  Yes, I’ll accept partial blame, especially for those life choices that cost me so dearly; nearly my life itself.

And don’t you even try to defend any conclusion you might want to make that I’m racist, supremist, anti-woke or otherwise.  The overwhelming majority of you have rarely even engaged with me in a conversation of late, let alone one as deep and as crucial as one touching on such sensitive subjects.

I am not making any assumptions in this case.  I’m so far beyond trying to understand exactly why I’m in the predicament I’m in that I’m literally throwing my arms up in the air in despair and blindly, passionately asking:

Am I a minority or not?!?!?!?!!?

Because here’s what I do know.

None of those jobs went to someone with exactly my demographic profile.  And a great deal of their predescessors did match far more closely with mine.

White.  Male.  Over 50.  Heterosexual.  Born in the U.S.

When one digs a bit deeper on this subject, all reports are truly disturbing,  A Forbes magazine piece by Richard Eisenberg of Next Avenue from May 2021 sums it up fairly succinctly:

A headline on Stanford University Business School’s Insights site caught my eye recently: “Workplace Equality for All! (Unless They’re Old).” The piece described fascinating research by NYU’s Michael North and Stanford’s Ashley Martin which found that workers who openly oppose racism and sexism were still prejudiced against older workers.

As these researchers explained in their American Psychological Association article about their study, ageism is alive and unwell in the workplace. What’s more, North and Martin discovered after interviewing 348 people, the younger people were, the more likely they were to hold ageist views on older workers. Little surprise that an AARP survey said 78% of older workers saw or experienced age discrimination in the workplace in 2020; in 2018, 61% did.

So it’s NOT just me.

What I also know with certainty is as of this writing my net worth is roughly equivalent to the cost of the dinner I was denied attending by many of my former colleagues who were so incensed that I dared asked for help in finding a way to get to one of those executives I’ve referenced above.  Again, I DON’T WANT THEIR JOBS.

But I do want–and I will defend with my last breath–my qualifications for–some sort of paid position in that world.

When you get rejections these days, companies are not required to explain why they made that decision.  Often, you’re getting this rejection letters via an autobot that you can’t even reply to, and in a WFH world it’s virtually impossible to even track down the actual person who made that call.  Assuming a human being made it at all.

Well, dammit, I’ve literally at the end of my rope, patience, and reserve.  Absolutely no one is coming to my rescue of yet.  Unlike some others once in my life, I don’t have friends with businesses who will hire me for gigs because I’m super hot.  I don’t have family with multiple homes who will provide me with shelter, food and weed.   And, so far, very few of my friends are even acknowledging the severity of my situation.  Their silence is deafening and, frankly, maddening.

So I’m asking this one, simple, straight-forward, factual question again:

AM I A MINORITY OR NOT?!???!!!

If I am not, then simply give me a legitimate, legally acceptable reason why I haven’t been hired.  In 29 frigging months.  And do so publicly.

If I am, and you want to avoid the embarassment of that admittance, I’m more than open to some sort of arrangement to shut me up.

Ideally, I’d love to work for you.  I’d like to work for anyone.  Even more ideally, I’d like to work for an investor who still believes I have the talent, acumen and ability to make them as much money as I made for countless others over the decades, including the ungrateful millionaires who jammed like cultish idiots at the behest of their beloved former boss at the expensive dinner I was denied the right to even attend.

So, once again, I’m going to ask that simple question:

AM I A MINORITY OR NOT????!??!

If you think I’m getting a tad testy, well, friend, that’s on you.  I can’t tell you how many alleged friends have expressed their concern, repeatedly urging me never to make such accusations.  Those that have in the past have tended to become blackballed from our industry and branded a “troublemaker”.

I also know plenty of them pushed hard enough, and saber-rattled sufficiently enough, to extract lucrative enough settlements from companies they believe wronged them, and are in far better financial shape today than I am.   Having that stability and peace of mind has allowed them and their families to move on to other careers, move to less combative and judgmental parts of the country and world, and fade from the memories of those who still benefit from hitting the tickmarks of diversity

I do not believe it is wrong to stand up for your life, your abilities, your raison d’etre as a human being, at a time when it feels like the whole damn world would rather you would just go away, preferably in a pine box.  Sadly, there may be a few of you who are now reading this that might join that list now.

I’ll yet again repeat this:  I’m not a racist.  I’m not crazy.  I’m not a troublemaker.  At least, not one who isn’t a little bit justified.

I’ve wanted answers to very simple questions for a while now.  I CAN handle the truth.   I don’t want to go into that pine box (actually, my desire is to have my ashes scattered over my brick at Citi Field) until I hear it.

I’ll quit asking the question once someone–anywhere–in any field–empowers me to stop worrying about whether or not I’ll have enough left to have a roof over my head by year’s end.  Until you have been faced with that exact same situation, you cannot possibly understand the despair and hopelessness I feel with every single “no”.

I want One. Simple. Answer.  I don’t believe I need to ask that question again. At least now.

But I will leave you with this.

If you won’t answer me, or at least give me an affirmative answer when I apply for a job I’m as qualified for as any one of the fine executives who have them today, perhaps you may need to answer to an attorney who might just ask the question in a far less collegial way.

I don’t want that to happen.   I never did.  Naively, I thought when you do something positive, or help someone out, you get repaid.

Somehow, that common courtesy has escaped my world.  For at least 29 months.

You know my question.  You know the answer I’m literally dying to hear.

Please.  For G-d’s Sake.  Help.  Me.

 

Until next time…