Memphis’s Leadership Needs Sensitivity Training

Posted on September 22, 2011 by


Robert Lipscomb is Director of HCD and Memphis Housing Authority

Robert Lipscomb and Councilman Myron Lowery’s statements are both callous and insensitive toward issues that affect groups and individuals who have suffered at the hands of those who practice discrimination. These two men represent Memphis, TN, which has the worst “racial” discrimination problems in the nation; home to the poorest African-Americans; and, in dire need of good paying jobs. Poor people who live in Memphis annual income is half that of middle-income families. If you’re poor and lives in Memphis, you’re 9 out of 10 times likely to be black.

Let’s not forget discrimination comes in many forms racial, sex, age, handicap, national origin, family makeup, religious, income, political affiliation, education, etc. Of course, some discrimination is accepted like political affiliation. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is vital in our nation’s battle to insure that all America citizens have a fair shot at employment opportunities and aren’t discriminated against based on, among others, the above categories.

Robert Lipscomb’s response to Bass Pro’s racial problems is: simply; I don’t give a damn. Only in Memphis would a professional government employee make a senseless statement about discrimination. Lipscomb is quoted in Memphis’ local newspaper, Commercial Appeal, “We’ve spoken to their executive team, and we’ve talked about it (the lawsuit). I don’t know where it comes from. We’ve been sued at the (Memphis) Housing Authority by the EEOC. There are a lot of companies with EEOC lawsuits. That’s the process. People have a way to discuss grievances. It doesn’t mean it’s right, wrong or whatever.”

“I don’t see how this changes anything,” Lipscomb added. “It doesn’t bother me at all.”

Lipscomb downplays EEOC and marks his Housing Authority as an example of how employees file worthless EEOC complaints. As a professional, Lipscomb didn’t consider the effect of his statements on a broad level. Did Lipscomb statements show another hidden fact: the wide divide between poor blacks and their middle class brothers? Are Lipscomb and other middle class blacks riding rawhide on the backs of their poor brothers? Is this another example of why Lipscomb needs to step aside?

By the way, how many EEOC law suits against Memphis Housing Authority under Lipscomb’s leadership are won by the accusers?

This tough question asked of three leaders about Bass Pro’s alleged racial discrimination should’ve warranted more in-depth thought. Memphis is a divested city with a very large minority presence however; discrimination doesn’t necessarily affect the poor only.

In their, super charged, defense of Bass Pro locating its business in Memphis; these men revealed: this and perhaps other decisions made by them and their counterparts, are off the cuff and; are made without any real investigations into Bass Pro’s and other companies’ legal and moral responsibilities to their communities.

After spending 171 million dollars, Bass Pro’s conduct and attitude as far as their hiring practices and employee relations lies in hope. These men project a 20th century attitude that cast Memphis as a powerful, laid back, and slow society where its leaders make decisions about very important purchases that’s based on surface knowledge. Memphis must invest more resources into its education and human resources so that, perhaps; the next generation of leaders are 21st century thinkers with the brainpower to find and deal with complex issues.