Of yahoos and Yahoo!

Diverse City
By SHAY STEWART-BOULEY  |  February 27, 2013

The saying goes that no man is an island. In the same vein, no group is a monolith, except perhaps for people at the most extreme end of an ideological or religious belief system.

However, the fiction that most groups are one way or another — with nary a significant point of contention among its members — is one that has kept so many of us pitted against one another or not trusting each other.

It is what allows some minorities to think that all whites believe substantially the same things. Or allows whites to lump all African-American or Latinos together. Then there are women, Christians, Muslims, Jews, rich and poor and others — who surely must be in lockstep.

It is the fiction that has so many whites fearful of becoming a minority somewhere around 2050. Except they'll still be the single largest group, and only a minority if all the other racial and ethnic groups banded together. Only people blinded by bigotry and ignorance could possibly believe such a thing were possible. But people still persist in thinking of groups unlike them as monolithic.

Even if it's a group that comprises half the population.

Many women got a wake-up call in this regard with Marissa Mayer, the head of Yahoo! who, at 37, is the youngest-ever CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Because, you see, she also happens to be the mother of an infant. So, many women across the US had high hopes that Mayer would bust down the glass ceilings and help set the tone for more family-friendly workspaces in this country.

Sadly for those women, though, they are learning that Mayer's chief function is to make us care about Yahoo! again. Needless to say, when Mayer skipped taking maternity leave after giving birth in September 2012, many were stunned. But it didn't stop there; her latest decision affects all her workers and has many women across the land fuming. For years, Yahoo! has allowed employees to work remotely, but the work-at-home train is coming to an end. Mayer issued a decree to Yahoo! workers who are not based in the office that they have until June 2013 to come back inside or will no longer be employed.

It goes without saying that in the United States, for all our talk of family values, it is not necessarily a family-friendly place. We are the only first-world country that offers no mandated, paid work leave. Sure, if you work at a large enough company you can get 12 weeks off without pay thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, but most of us can't afford to go that long without pay.

We need to reevaluate our priorities in this country. However, is it fair for me and others with that view to have pinned all our hopes and dreams on Mayer? Nope! Just because a group is disenfranchised in some way doesn't mean groupthink within it. In this case, the assumption was that any woman who is a mother wants paid time off and believes it is a right — and that she will use her high-powered position to do anything to bring systemic change.

However, as woman who happens to also be black, I think such beliefs are misplaced. First off, people are individuals. Even black people don't even agree on whether we should be called black or African-American. Nor do we all like Black History Month.

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