A top boss at a Seattle equity firm has been handed a sarcastic award, titled Ebenezer Award, for banning his employees from putting up Christmas or Hanukkah decorations in their houses while participating in Zoom conversations in order to prevent them from offending coworkers who hold different religious beliefs.
Gloria Ngezaho who works as the equity manager for King County's Department of Human Resources, which encompasses Seattle, was given the Ebenezer Award from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He was given the sardonic award last week for his stringent "Guidelines for Holiday Decorations" regulations, which were first made public in November.
Strange Award for Strange Reason
Becket compared King County receiving the Ebenezer award, which he called "the most outrageous offender" of the winter holidays this year, to "delivering a lump of coal as an acknowledgment of scroogery on a grand scale."
The rules forbade county employees from using religious symbols such as menorahs, crucifixes, or nativity scenes as their video backgrounds, according to a DailyMail.com report.
According to the guidelines, displaying one's religious convictions in public " may cause disruption to co-workers or members of the public that do not share that particular religion."
"Some employees may not share your religion, practice any religion, or share your enthusiasm for holiday decorations. Displays of religious symbols may only be displayed in an employee's personal workspace," the memo, first obtained by Seattle-based journalist Jason Rantz, said.
Previous Ebenezer Award winners include the Department of Veteran Affairs, which forbade employees at its Salem, Virginia facility from wishing veterans a Merry Christmas, the American Humanist Association, which attempted to stop schools from distributing care packages to needy children, and the University of Minnesota, which two years ago banned holiday decorations like Santas, bows, dreidels, and even wrapped presents from its campus.
In contrast to his divisive attitude on the holiday season this year, Ngezaho had earlier sent King County staff a personal, introspective article titled "Black Lives Matter: What's Next?" after George Floyd's murder in the summer of 2020, the outlet reported.
"It was just a couple of weeks ago that I, alongside the world, witnessed the murder of George Floyd at the hands, or should I say knees, of a white police officer. I sat in silence, along with my family, angry and not knowing what to do," he wrote. He also recalled a moment when his four-year-old daughter urged him to be careful when he was on his way out to go to work, shortly after Floyd's death, which caused protests across the U.S.
"It wasn't too long after that I decided to share my thoughts with my network. This was a space I needed in that moment, because my entire family was hurting, and I needed to let out the fire that was in me."
"[...] Contrary to some rhetoric out there, the challenges we face are not between black skinned folks vs. white skinned folks. This is about everyone, at least everyone who does not associate with and subscribe to white supremacy, or racism," Ngezaho added.
"There are plenty of folks in my circles who have tried to reframe this fight against racism, and made it sound like it was a fight between black skinned folks and white skinned folks. I have continuously had to check and correct them, making it clear that we are fighting against a cancerous ideology â white supremacy â not people."
Last but not least, Ngezaho had to remind himself two years ago that he isn't fighting the war against racism alone.
"When I say I am not alone, I don't mean to say there are other black skinned folks out there facing the same struggles and fighting alongside me," he wrote.
"I mean to say that there are many folks of all skin colors (asian, black, white, latinx, native, mixed...) who are with me, marching with me, thinking with me, fighting alongside me, often with their own lives on the line. This leads me back to the first point I made; this is not a black vs. white issue, but about everyone vs. racism."
Ngezaho is now being laughed at for his weird ideologies and beliefs and many believe that the sarcastic award will not help much in changing him and his ways.