STATEMENT FROM ADRIENNE OSBORN, OWNER OF PERFORMANCE HIGH
Posted on Facebook on June 4, 2020 by owner Adrienne Osborn
Recently, someone took offense to some emotional comments one of our employees wrote on his personal Facebook page related to current events.
Instead of engaging with this employee, this offended person went straight to the employee’s boss (me) – using a fake phone number but a real email address – asking if we as a company condoned his language and hoping that we would reprimand or fire him.
We replied that we were sorry he was offended, that emotions are running high in these times, and that no, we do not monitor or take a position on what our employees do on their personal pages in their personal time.
This person’s response was as follows (verbatim): “That is disappointing that you don’t take position when yiur staff is so filled with hate. There have been many different examoles of other companies and institutions reprimanding employees for their social media posts. Maybe you’re scared to reprimand him simply because he’s a minority. I’ll be sure to let everyone I know that is considering your business know that you employ people who are pro-riot and pro-anarchist. I hope you begin to monitor employees actions on social media because it shows who they really are.”
I have a number of comments to make about this. I was going to make them privately, but then thought perhaps I could do more good if I took them public, because this is part of the national conversation right now.
(This person may or may not realize his racist perspective. Perhaps he was only offended about the comments, and not the fact that it was a person of color making them. At a minimum, it’s tone-deaf to report a person of color to their employer for speaking out against a broken police system, when we are in the middle of historic protests against police brutality. But the timing of the incident, the content of the comments, and the mention of minority status in his second email MAKES this a conversation about race.)
First – Our employee’s posts were not pro-riot or pro-anarchist. Yes, they were harsh words and very emotional, and had the potential to offend. But they did not incite or support riot, violence, or anarchy.
Second – I don’t believe in suppressing anyone’s expression of frustration and anger as long as it’s not racist, sexist, or violent. Not ever, but especially not now.
Third – Other companies that have reprimanded employees for social media posts have done so because the comments were racist or denigrated the company. I refuse to reprimand a person of color expressing anger against a system of power and authority that has failed them, even if I don’t wholly agree with the sentiments.
Fourth – Performance High is a small, now-struggling local business which, even were I so inclined, doesn’t have the resources to police the online lives of our employees. Doing so would be both frighteningly authoritarian and an onerous burden to a small business.
Anyone who feels that a business should censor its employees for expressing anger against a power and legal system they feel has failed them should not bother to patronize Performance High. You will not feel at home in our community.
Performance High believes that the lives of people of color matter, that there is historical racism embedded in our society that has made life harder for people of color than for white people in general, and that now is the time for us to finally realize this and make things better.
We understand that people of color have been playing on an uneven field for our entire country’s history, and this has to change.
And we understand this more today than we did yesterday, and we will understand it even more in the future as we continue to listen, talk, and support our friends of color.
We continue to welcome people of color into our music community, as we always have. But we will do more now, at this historical turning point, to push for greater opportunity and equality for our brown and black friends, family, employees, co-workers, leaders, and fellow citizens.
Our first step in that direction is to donate to an organization that supports people of color. Our (Latina) studio manager is currently researching which organization to support. Feel free to comment below if you have a suggestion, especially a local organization.
Thank you to all the people who are listening to the pent-up pain and anger being expressed right now. And thank you to the person who contacted me trying to get my employee in trouble. You have given me motivation to speak up.
People of color: We see you, we are listening, we support you, and we stand with you.
Followup: We initiated an ongoing monthly donation to the Artists of Color Fund run by Transforming Creatives.