Racism and sexism?

Are we seeing racism and sexism in this election campaign? Sure we are.

One form of racism is when people allow race to decide a question. When I was in high school our neighbors denied their kids music lessons because the music teacher was black. Theirs was a racist decision.

Do we have voters who will allow race to decide how they vote in November? Undoubtedly. However, this is a two-edged sword. Few commentators dare mention both edges.

Yes, many white voters will not vote for Senator Obama because he is black. Down and dirty, this is their sole reason. And, of course, this is a racist decision on their part.

However, many black voters will vote for Senator Obama because he is black. And for no other reason. If a white candidate held identical views to his they would not vote for him. Their decision is just as racist as that of whites who will only vote for a white.

We see the same phenomenon with sexism in this election.

No doubt there are many men, and some women, will not vote for a woman candidate. For no other reason than she is a woman. (My mother-in-law refuses to vote for a woman for our top offices.)

And certainly you know women who will vote for a woman solely because she is one. They want to see a woman elected for once. There was no shortage of women who voted for Hillary in the primaries because she is a woman. In addition to women who voted for her because they liked her ideas.

Now, lots of these folks will take umbrage with me over this. I can only suggest they not shoot the messenger. Detecting and defining racism and sexism is fairly easy to do. And that is all that I am guilty of. Along with ending sentences with prepositions.

Such blatant prejudice should not surprise us. We have any number of magazines these days that have 90 percent women staffers. Thirty years ago they were 90 percent men staffers. There was sexism afoot then. There is sexism afoot now.

Perhaps I misjudge those publications.

Many people misjudge the industry I have been involved with - the securities industry. If you attend a conference of 500 top investment advisors you will see few black faces and few women. Many critics zero in on this. "Racism! Sexism!" is their cry.

That seems far-fetched to me for a few simple reasons. Most advisors are pretty much on their own. Even within the big investment houses, they are given the freedom to develop their own book of clients.

Now, some clients are racist or sexist. They will not deal with blacks or women advisors. But so many are the opposite. They prefer to deal with blacks and women. And the huge majority could care less. They just want good advice. And they want somebody to hold their hand when earthquakes hit the markets. They donít care much if the hand is dainty or black or green.

Why are there so few top advisors with black skin? And relatively few top women advisors? You will have to ask them, I guess. Or ask those who start in the profession but never get far.

With women I suspect it is the commitment. The extremely long hours are too much for women with children.

Now, some women advisors have sued their firms. They claim they were harrassed around the office. I am sure they were. But the best advisors pay little attention to what is going on in the office. That is not where the business is. The business is at the other end of a phone, where their clients and prospective clients are. I know top advisors who cannot name people in the rest of the office. They close their doors and get down to business.

As for the election, a perfect world would be when no voter votes for or against a candidate because of his or her gender or race. Or religion. Or dress size. Or sexual preference. Or disability. Or spouse. Or parents. Or name. Yes, name. If yours is Hyram Finkface, try getting elected to anything.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tomís radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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