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Opinion: Open Letter to the President and Board of Tournament of Roses Association

Published on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 | 5:35 pm

Our community of Pasadena has major concerns about the lack of diversity in the Tournament of Roses Association in regards to its staff. We have other concerns as well about the Tournament, but at this time we’d like to focus on the people who are a part of the office of your organization.

For many years we have looked at the variety of employees of the Tournament of Roses and never seen an African-American male. Not one, two or three amongst them—absolutely none. However, over the past decade or so we have seen 2 black women, people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, but that has been about the extent of your organization reflecting the broad range of the diverse residents throughout the community.

Our concern is heightened by the fact that 75 percent of the football players in the NCAA are of African-American descent, so the contrast between that and the Tournament of Roses front office is noticeable. This is also apparent when the Tournament sends its representatives to the playing field of a football game, including the annual Rose Bowl, and in that group there is an absence of African-American men or women from your organization. Moreover, when the Tournament has its representative’s travel to universities or colleges throughout the US, the lack of diversity among such people is again most noticeable. This gives the public the impression that the Tournament of Roses is a racially exclusive operation and uninterested in the social diversity of our modern society.

We feel strongly that if the Pasadena community is going to practice diversity, there is no better place for that to be evident than at the Tournament of Roses.

It has also come to our attention that some of the past presidents of the Tournament have hired their own family members to be a part of the organization, in lieu of hiring members from throughout the local community, including residents of African, Latino or Asian descent, to be among that group of paid staffers in the Tournament’s office.

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association representatives/leadership continues to talk about being a diverse organization but, the perception in the community is quite different, in fact totally opposite. The perception is based on who we see representing the face of the Tournament of Roses. It is diverse as a matter of principle but, not as a matter of practice (or fact).

It is time for the Tournament of Roses to do some major outreach and substantive work to change the perception and the reality of diversity within the Tournament of Roses Association.

With this year’s theme of “Inspiring Stories” let’s create an inspiring story of our own. True diversity in the Tournament of Roses Association not platitudes and talk but, specific strategic action to bring about change.

We believe that the “inspiring story” about to be written will make the Tournament of Roses Association and the City of Pasadena proud!

With kind regards,

Martin A. Gordon, Chair/Facilitator
On behalf of The Pasadena Community Coalition


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