Wednesday 18 April 2018

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

18 April 2018                                         

Australian Institutions need to learn from
America’s Starbucks Example

This morning, I thought about the caveat placed by the Administrators of the University of NSW (UNSW), over our home property. It was due to a combination of many factors that the caveat experience surfaced again. The young lady at the reception knocked on our door yesterday and asked me whether we had ‘taken’ two cane chairs from the ‘store’ area in the car-park. I said ‘no’. Given my previous experience with the young lady, I thought it would be best to invite her inside – so she could take a look for herself. I opened the door wider and asked the young lady whether it was like the one in our Airbnb room. Me being who I am, I did not want to offend the young lady by saying to look for herself if she did not trust me. The young lady looked and said that the chairs she was missing were without the armrests. I said I did not recall seeing them. I said that they needed to clearly state whether or not the items in that space were discarded items or stored items. I said that in the past, we ourselves had taken some items thinking they were discarded.  The young lady left after saying that she would need to play the camera recording to find out.
About ten days ago, this lady came over and said to me that there were boxes in that area used for packaging bedhead. The young lady said our address was on it. I said yes, they were ours. The young lady said that that area was not for rubbish but for storage. I said I would inform my husband to remove them and place them in the bins. When I asked my husband that evening – he said he had left the boxes in the bin area – as has been usually observed practice with large boxes. This meant that someone else had moved the boxes to this area until they could be taken away by the Council.  I did not explain to the young lady as to what had happened – but informed my husband about the new rule that the young lady had preached to me. Yesterday when the young lady looked worried about the lost chairs I said to my husband that that was her karma for unjustly finding fault with me – one who follows the rules.
In terms of us taking ‘items’ I would not touch anything that I knew to be someone else’s. We collect well used and new items for our opportunity shop in Northern Sri Lanka. Given that our transport costs are high, one who is caring would know that the value is shared ownership and not economic. To my mind, such a person taking a discarded item and giving it new life would confirm respect for all those who valued that item before that person.
I felt sad and let-down, not knowing whether yesterday, I was the only one with whom the young lady checked. The camera comment was also unwarranted. I thought that that perhaps was one strong  reason why I thought about the UNSW  caveat this morning. Then I read the SBS news headed “Starbucks to close US stores for afternoon of 'racial-bias education'”
When I read the background to this I knew that there was no need to be anxious about the caveat thought because the world was saying that what happened to me at the University of NSW was racism and that my pain would benefit someone somewhere. Below are some ‘common’ factors: at
[Video shows several police talking quietly with two black men seated at a table. After a few minutes, officers handcuff the men and lead them outside as other customers say they weren’t doing anything wrong; Philadelphia-area media reported the two had been waiting for a friend.
Starbucks says the employee who called police on two black men who were sitting inside a Philadelphia store no longer works at that location. A Starbucks spokeswoman declined to comment further.
The two men were arrested by police, but were later released because of lack of evidence a crime had be committed. ]
I was ‘waiting’ in the reception area of the Vice Chancellor of the University of NSW to speak to him after he agreed through his lawyer at the Supreme Court ‘to talk’ – based on which I withdrew my complaint against him – as suggested by the Chancellor. I was first asked by the Security staff to leave – but I said that I was within the law. They said I was trespassing and said the University was ‘private’ property. I said it was public property and that according to my understanding of the law – I was well within my rights to wait there to speak to the Vice Chancellor. The Police were then called and they just became the puppets of the University staff and arrested me for Trespass. This happened on four different occasions as I continued to exercise my rights as an Australian. I argued the case and released myself of the Trespass charges on the second occasion. The ‘conduct’ continued due to an attitude that I did not have ‘rights’. The Police listed me as Sri Lankan and the Courts did not see anything wrong with it despite my claim that I was lawfully Australian and hence such listing confirmed racial discrimination. The parallel of it in Sri Lanka would be for me to claim I was Sri Lankan but the Police insisting that I was Tamil.
 I sued the New South Wales government and was asked to pay deposit of $10,000 through Bank Guarantee before the Courts would let the matter go to trial. I did satisfy that requirement out of my hard earned, hard saved money. I paid off the University’s legal cost-claim in instalments despite knowing that it was wrong. But I needed the caveat lifted to clear the property for my heirs.  
As per the above report:
[A viral video of the arrests has led to calls of a boycott of the coffee chain, and protests have been organised at the store. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said the arrests should not have happened. Philadelphia police released a recording of the call from the Starbucks employee that led to the arrest of two black men.
In the recording, a woman is heard saying, “Hi, I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” She gives the address of the Starbucks store, and the entire call lasts less than 30 seconds
The video posted by a Starbucks client shows uniformed police questioning and then handcuffing the two men, who offer no resistance, as a white client repeatedly asks an officer, "What'd they do? What'd they do?"]
Unlike the Starbucks victims, I was an orphan fighting my own case. There were no white officers of the University to question the Police. On the third occasion, a lady did approach the Police who were dragging me out of the University and I was wearing sari, but the Police took her aside and I did not see the lady thereafter. Our Australian media, including ABC and SBS whom I kept informing  did nothing. They thus became silent accomplices in the acts of racial discrimination.
In contrast  let’s look at the following  report about the Starbucks’ Management’s response:
[Starbucks announced Tuesday that it would close all company-owned stores and corporate offices in the United States on May 29 to conduct "racial-bias education," following outrage over the arrest of two black men in one of its cafes.
It was the latest move by the CEO of Starbucks to recover from damage to the mammoth chain's reputation by the incident, captured on video and posted last Thursday on Twitter, which has been viewed millions of times and drawn widespread condemnation.
The curriculum will be designed "to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome," the company said in a statement.]

There was no such move by the University of NSW – even to apologise. But karma happened and migrant staff went to the ABC and spoke the language that the ABC better understood – ‘scientific fraud’. That matter cost the University millions of dollars in direct costs and much more in Reputation and Common Policy with reputed Universities.

My conclusion is that we Australians continue to carry the racial discrimination karma which surfaces whenever practice of law is weak. When we correct ourselves while feelings of victims are current – we would prevent tragedies like 9/11 in America and Bali bombing which seriously affected the psyche of Australians whose Prime Minister was also present in America during 9/11. A true believer of the Kingdom of God would identify with the science of this karma.

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