To the Editor:

When I originally read the CSBJ Young Professional profile of Maria Bay in the Nov. 16 issue, I was struck — really, gut-punched — by Ms. Bay’s words in answer to your journalist’s question, “What do you love about Colorado Springs?” Ms. Bay, an American citizen, a COS small business owner, and a native of Peru, described incidents of ugly, racist — and erroneous — comments from fellow shoppers waiting in a check-out queue while Ms. Bay spoke with her parents in Spanish.

We call ourselves “Olympic City USA,” but how “Olympic” is it to judge (wrongly) and insult other-looking or other-speaking people in our city? Fundamentally, the Olympics are a few weeks every few years when nations’ athletes gather somewhere in the world and exhibit sportsmanship to all, regardless of language, color, or race. So when we hear stories like Ms. Bay’s and express sincere concern about our neighbors’ behavior, as the CSBJ editors did in the Nov. 23 issue, it is not just political correctness: Racist behavior is directly contradictory to our city’s brand.

It takes courage to be an Olympian. Olympians always strive to surpass the performance goals they set for themselves, whether that’s speed or strength or kindness. Olympians seek out coaching, welcome feedback and practice, practice, practice. We should all take Ms. Bay’s recommendation — to “be kind loudly” — and practice.

Perhaps the CSBJ editors would help us find coaches? For example, what if you encountered a co-worker speaking to another co-worker the way the anonymous shopper spoke to Ms. Bay? What should you do or say? What if you overheard a racist exchange between two customers in your business? What should you do or say?

In the CSBJ’s sister newspaper, the Colorado Springs Independent, each week four local religious leaders respond to a theological question from a reader. Would the CSBJ editors consider a similar weekly feature, posing questions from readers about how best we can live up to our “Olympic City USA” brand? Perhaps local business professors, human resources professionals, marketing and branding gurus, or business-oriented nonprofit leaders would share their coaching tips about how each of us can practice kindness loudly?

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Many thanks for considering this suggestion.

Di Graski

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