I’ve been debating posting in this thread since it started. I am not really sure how to feel about some of the rhetoric being thrown around, and it feels like my feelings on that need to be suppressed for the greater cause of minorities being treated terribly, as I don’t fall into the categories of this thread.
Here are a couple of examples in recent memory that I wasn’t sure how to handle best.
I drive coach for my team, and we have a female mentor primarily do match strategy, as well as talk to the other teams. One specific match was with an all girl’s team where it specifically was an issue. After a preliminary match plan was drawn up, prior to the match I suggested to our strat lead that a different allocation of robot tasks would be more optimal in completing the rp task that year. Slight modifications are common for us, and normally go off without a hitch. Our strategy lead then went to go suggest the change to the plan to the other two teams in the alliance. The plan however when presented to this all girl’s team was not accepted, and rather than critiquing the proposed changes on merit, the lead student interpreted it as a “man telling them what to do” as the strategy lead mentioned it was at my request that the change was proposed. This team was then uncooperative to consider changing things further, and suggested that our female strategy lead was being manipulated by me with my privilege being male to change the strategy that they had agreed on, and suggested that she ignore me in the future.
I personally attempted as well in queue for the qualification match to explain the possible need for a strategy change, and to which the team aggressively explained that they were essentially wise to the plans of white men telling them what to do, and they had experience dealing with people like “me” despite this being the first time I was talking to them/it was extremely question based and not a demanding request at all. The male driver at the time stepped in and got a little frustrated as the strategic adaptation was required for the rp, as to which the lead female student called my student an “idiot boy”. At this point I knew the conversation wasn’t going anywhere and I de-escalated the situation, we played around the all girl’s team strategy to the best of our abilities, and I had to explain to my driver that all girl’s teams regularly face sexism, which is why the girl that called him an idiot was potentially frustrated.
I really don’t know what could have been done better here. The team we interacted with clearly had been prepped/coached to deal with men who want to get their way, and I feel as if they were understandably very sensitive to changing plans when a man is making a suggestion. None of the suggestions were rude or sexist, and it’s not fair to the team to not encourage the usage of tools to deal with bad actors. Yet I feel as if the pendulum swung too far in this case.
The other story of recent memory is with a team who was in our eliminations alliance for the first time, we were also paired with a low resource team with predominantly brown members. We suggested to our alliance captain that we pick them because of their phenomenal work ethic and determination with good driving skill as well despite their robot being clearly a bit cobbled together due to their low funding. The captain did end up picking them, but during a finals match this team suffered a mechanical breakdown that caused them to take a fairly large amount of fouls. After the match a mentor from the alliance captain said “do these f$@# even speak English? They got us a s$@$ ton of fouls”…
I didn’t know what to say. I wish I had called the mentor out at the time, but I was pretty stunned. I’ve thought about contacting the team post event to mention this behavior to them, but never did. I don’t envy those who get these kinds of comments all the time, I don’t know how you can even respond. I guess that’s the best part of this thread is that for those far less fortunate than I, you can know you aren’t alone, and you have people on your side.