For obvious reasons I must be vague about details but the story goes like this:
In the late 90s and early 2000s a well respected estimator in our industry published a job costing manual. I met the guy and attended his classes, and have some of his media, and I’m a big fan. Most of his teachings IMO are very valuable to the industry. Sadly he passed away a few years ago.
This winter an industry organization committee was commissioned, with his estates blessing, and I volunteered as a guest reviewer of the manual since I have read it several times.
One of the chapters, without the author explicitly naming ethnicity, clearly stereotypes Asians, how they allegedly speak, and how they allegedly do business. Asians do make a larger part of our industry as business owners and the chapter portrays them as untrustworthy individuals with “broken English” who take advantage of such to screw over contractors. Even more shocking, it calls upon contractors to charge them 10% extra to cover their costs that may be incurred while dealing with this ethnic group.
We have a meeting coming up with our first review, and I think its my responsibility to point this out, diplomatically, to the committee, even as a guest reviewer. My ideal suggestion is we can re-write the content of that chapter, with the authors estates permission, to remove the racist content and the suggestion anyone should be boycotted or charged an agreed upon upcharge, both of which violate this industry organizations by-laws anyway regardless of background.
Option 2: delete the entire chapter.
Option 3: keep the chapter, but add a disclaimer warning the reader that there is potentially offensive content and the organization neither endorses the racism or the boycott/pricing recommendations. Personally I think option 3 is the worst, and am tied on 1 v 2, though the more I think about it, the chapter really is not needed to begin with so maybe deleting it is the best choice.
Now there’s more to the story:
My industry is (documented) overwhelmingly pro-Trump, and while I would hope the committee would be welcome to my suggestions, they might not be so welcome. At the very worst, I plan to appeal to the trade organizations image and what it will look like to put out a revised edition of this book with such language intact.
Second, the trade organization is thinking of putting the remaining inventory of books on sale at cost, since they have to pay the estate at a royalty for each one. My suggestion is they put all them in a dumpster, and just pay the Estate the royalties due, and write it off, rather than be associated with this offensive chapter.
I should add the organizations logo is on the cover of the manual, which equates to an endorsement of the content.
Finally, I don’t know how the Estate would react. I would think a check for the trashed books and ongoing royalties would even out hard feelings unless there is a relative involved. This part I cant control, and if the racist comments remain Ill just publicly recuse my involvement.
One more side issue: the author refers to contractors as “he” or “him”. Again, this was 21 years ago. There are a handful of female business owners in my industry, would “he/she” or would “they” be appropriate in 2021?