The case “Road to Hell” by Gareth Evans is a story of two characters with different backgrounds, personalities and points of view and how these two characters interact. John Baker is a successful western chief engineer of the Barracania’s branch of a multinational company. In the case it is mentioned that John Baker is an English expatriate, so we assume that he is white, possibly born in Canada.
Baker thinks he has an edge in working in a foreign country because he has experience in understanding a regional staff’s psychology and knowing exactly how to get along with locals. Baker has been working to prepare Matt Rennalls to be his successor in the chief engineer’s position. Rennalls, on the other hand, is a young engineer who represents the new generation of patriotic, well-educated Barracania’s professionals. His four years as a student at London University made him especially sensitive to political, racial and equality issues involving relations between his culture and western influence.
The last meeting between two case characters ended up in a disaster. Instead of accepting the chief engineer position, Matt turns in his resignation, insulted by John’s farewell interview and advice. This incident not only leaves Baker puzzled about what he might have said wrong, but also puts the future of the company’s relations with its regional staff and authorities in jeopardy.
This case is one of many examples of how people from different cultures and backgrounds do not take diversity into consideration. They evaluate and measure each other by their own scales and perceptions, which often lead to serious misunderstanding and conflicts.
Baker knew a lot about Matt's political views, racial issues sensitivity and intolerance to any discrimination of value of his country and people in the world arena. However, he still made a mistake building his interview from his own (European) perspective. Baker gave some historical and personal suggestions that were not meant to be offensive. However, from Matt's point of view, the suggestions were totally inappropriate. Through the interview, Baker emphasized several times the importance and leading position of European staff in the company. In the effort to teach Rennalls to better cooperate with this leadership, Baker even offered a historical example. He put European culture on a pedestal of 300 years of development and left Barracania at the bottom of the human history.
In our opinion, Baker is a racist, even though he would be stunned by this conclusion. Unintentional and unconscious motivations for behavior are as powerful as intentional and conscious behavior. We will offer a theory to support this diagnosis. Baker was not intentionally behaving as a racist, but an old saying rings true: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Critical Race Theory “…one must not look for the gross and obvious. The subtle, cumulative miniassault is the substance of today’s racism…” (Pierce, as cited in Solorzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000). John Baker, when viewed from the perspective of the critical race theory (CRT), is a racist. Matthew Rennalls was correct in his assessment of the interview between Baker and Rennalls, and the resignation of Rennalls was completely understandable when viewed from the perspective of CRT. I (Pat Artz) am a white American with a Norwegian and Irish background. Most white Americans, including myself, are accustomed to viewing race relations as a civil rights issue. If someone at work says the word “discrimination,” then we want to know what policies were violated, what laws were broken, what actions need to be taken, and what lawsuits do we need to worry about. One of our Discussion Boards features a question about employees who might be reluctant to fly or work in tall buildings, and the discussion almost immediately turned to contracts, lawyers, and possible firings or