Monday, April 17, 2017

Diversity Not A Concern - Images on the Wall

Several months ago I became a member of a nearby fitness center.  The Center is under the umbrella of the Hancock Regional Hospital.  The facility is equipped with the latest fitness equipment and also includes a pool, basketball court, and sauna rooms.  My main reason for joining was to take advantage of the indoor track, especially in the winter time.

During my initial visits to the center, I noticed that most of the clients were older people like myself.  Unlike me they were more on the European American side of the human being equation.  My ears quickly picked up that the background music being played as people worked out was music that European Americans like.  In response to my asking what satellite radio station was being played, I was told that it was a Pandora "classic rock".  That explained why the only song I heard by a black artist was one by Jimi Hendrix, legendary guitarist from the 1960s early 1970s.

My eyes quickly noticed that the photographs on the wall around the indoor track all depicted young European Americans exercising vigorously.  It was in direct contrast to the older European Americans and myself who were the normal clients of the center.  So, I sent a letter to the manager of the facility pointing out that the images prominently displayed along the wall did not reflect the reality of the paying customers who are using the fitness center.  The response I received mentioned the music being played reflected the demographics of the inhabitants of the community.  The photographs I was told were based on the design of an architect and reflected his/her vision.

The architect's vision obviously did not see minorities or older people using the center.  Anyone who uses the center will notice the giant photos and get the message quickly.  The architect apparently believes that the world consist of only youthful looking, thin European American life forms.  The response I received from the center did not express any urgency to modify the images on the wall.  Their was no acknowledgement that maybe I had a point and that other images should be added along the wall.

My conclusion was the response basically was saying, "yeah, you're right, but we like the images on the wall and don't plan to change anything."  It's nice to know what to expect.  When I stop by the center, I always have a set of headphones to play the kind of music I want to hear.   When I walk into the center I quickly note that every day the clientele are older adults, some likely retired like me, who are just trying to keep their bodies in shape.  When I do jog on the track I ignore the photographs of the youthful European Americans and focus on what I am doing.

I find it amazing that a simple decision on placing images on the wall of a building could exclude acknowledging the diversity of people in a community.  It lets me know the thought processes of the architect who designed the interior.  It just shows that even the educated still have much to learn.

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