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Blacks enraged by monkey business at AT&T.

Adrawing that used a monkey to depict Africans, while characters from other countries were represented by humans, has focused attention on the fragile relationship between African-Americans and corporate America. The illustration, published in the September issue of Focus, AT&T's employee magazine, draws attention to the racial insensitivity that often exists beneath the veneer of model corporate diversity.

In October, faced with demonstrations at its Manhattan headquarters and the ire of many of its own employees, AT&T folded the magazine. A month earlier, the magazine's staff issued an internal memo of apology and ended its relationship with Michael Moran, the Madison, N.J., freelance illustrator who did the work.

In the aftermath of the scandal, AT&T has pledged to redouble its efforts to make workers more sensitive to race and gender issues. After meeting with executive director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. and other NAACP officials, AT&T chairman and CEO Robert E. Allen sent a letter to all employees announcing a new push for company-wide diversity. Allen also met with Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Joseph Lowery and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Most observers consider these responses consistent with AT&T's record of commitment to diversity. Nearly 15% of the company's workers and 8.6% of its managers in the United States are black. And AT&T is one of the few major corporations that did not lose a disproportionate share of black employees during recent job cuts, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission records (see "Gee, Blacks Really Did Lose More Jobs" below). But what alarms many observers is this: If this can happen at AT&T, which was cited as one of BE's "Best Places For Blacks To Work" (cover story, Feb. 1992), what can African-Americans expect from the rest of corporate America?
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:public outrage over monkey illustration used to represent Africans in corporate newsletter, Focus
Author:Edmond, Alfred, Jr.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Dec 1, 1993
Words:303
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