Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2015

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t started out like a regular afternoon. The three Williams boys were roaming the Nittany Mall, a teenage hotspot not far from Penn State University, where their father, Jerome Williams, was on the faculty. Dressed in shirts their mom had purchased for them earlier that week, the boys were having a good time until a security guard approached. He stopped them on suspicion of shoplifting their new tees. "When this event happened, I was trying to explain it to colleagues and friends, but to my surprise, very few people understood what I was saying," says Williams, now the director of the Rutgers Business School PhD program. "They said I shouldn't be upset about it. They said the guard at the mall was just doing his job." To his white coworkers, it was an honest mistake. To the African-American Williams family, it was all-too-familiar racial profiling. The experience underlines a troubling matter: not only does racism still exist in far too many facets of life, but too many of us are blind to it. "There is a belief that things like this used to happen," says Glenn Christensen, an asso- ciate professor of marketing at BYU. "People think it is no longer real. Unfortunately, this still remains a reality for a significant portion of the US population." I Hard work and a can-do spirit aren't enough. For minority entrepreneurs, the American ethos can be a hollow promise—especially when seeking small-business loans. By: Illustrations: T O D d H o l L I N G S H E A D L i N C O l N A G n E W 22 MARRIOTT

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