OMFG did you effing seriously just say that.
January 1, 2015 5:01 PM   Subscribe

One of my coworkers said something that feels BEYOND inappropriate, and I don't know what to do about it. Difficulty level: racism. In the office. With lots of Southern cultural baggage. Also, WTF.

I am a white, 30-ish-year-old, professional female who works in an office in Southern Organization with Southern coworkers.

We get a heap of mail in Southern Organization every day. Yesterday, our regular mail guy was out, and his substitute, who happens to be black, brought us a larger pile of mail than usual. One particular coworker (let's call her White Maladjusted Coworker) was audibly unhappy about it because it means more work for her. She didn't like it, and she let everyone know.

So TODAY, our regular mail guy (a white guy) was back. When he came in with his stack of mail for my office, he asked innocuously, "Was Substitute Mailman good to y'all yesterday?"

And in front of two black office-mates and in earshot of our black boss, White Maladjusted Coworker replies, "NO HE WAS NOT. We were about to get out the lynchin' rope!"

WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK.

Regular Mail Guy is shocked. He doesn't know how to react to something so staggeringly inappropriate, and all he can manage is, "Uh... now, now..."

I am so stunned at how profoundly oppressive she was that I bolt out of my office and hide in the stairway, shaking, until I can reenter my office without looking like I'm about to burst into tears. When I got back in, everyone was walking around, doing their work like that shit didn't just happen.

What the effing eff do I do about this?? Should I do anything? Should I talk to my boss, who CLEARLY didn't hear her?

Is this shit okay ANYWHERE, let alone in the fucking workplace? "Inappropriate" is a polite euphemism for what that is. Should I-- or anyone-- just let that slide?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (42 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Totally, wildly inappropriate in any possible context, work or no, unless you happen to work for the Klan. Silver lining: if it was within earshot of the boss, odds are this time next week she'll be White Maladjusted Ex-Coworker; the boss may have just wanted to deal with in it private/at a later point.
posted by Itaxpica at 5:10 PM on January 1, 2015


No, you shouldn't let it slide. You should probably report it to HR, because this behavior is creating a hostile work environment and could get the company in serious hot water if allowed to continue.
posted by jon1270 at 5:10 PM on January 1, 2015 [35 favorites]


I would mention it to your boss, because that is some seriously inappropriate stuff to say, even in the south. I grew up in the South and that would have dropped jaws even in my very conservative home town. Your boss is really the person to be talking to your coworker about professional behavior, which is where stuff like this falls. If you don't want to come off as "tattling" I would phrase it as "I'm sure coworker wasn't thinking about how this would sound, but it made me tremendously uncomfortable and I could see that it also made others feel that way".
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 5:12 PM on January 1, 2015 [21 favorites]


This is clearly a (in)direct threat to fellow black employees. This needs to go to HR. Its their job to deal with it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:14 PM on January 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Tell. Your. Boss.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:14 PM on January 1, 2015 [22 favorites]


I'd go straight to HR. That said, they might not actually *do* anything (I worked in the South where racist shit got thrown around all the time and never was anything done when I reported it) but you need to tell them.

That said, the adult thing would be to talk to the coworker as well and tell her it made you uncomfortable...but I probably couldn't be adult in that situation because hot damn what an imbecile.
posted by radioamy at 5:15 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


You should report this. You don't have much information about the structure of your work environment. If you don't have an HR department, you should report it to your boss. This employee needs to be disciplined (or at the very least talked to). Even if that doesn't happen, which it will if your boss is halfway responsible, there needs to be a record of this behavior in case it happens again.

It is beyond unacceptable. Imagine hearing a male coworker joke about raping a female employee in your presence, and the strongest negative reaction from others in the office is just an uncomfortable "hey now..."

You can't travel back and time and change how you reacted. Sometimes we are too shocked to think of what to say, in which case it might help to plan what you say beforehand. Me, I have a script that is basically: "That was completely unacceptable and I'm very disappointed that you would say something like that. Please do not ever say something like that that in my presence again." And then, that is the final word. "I will not discuss this with you. I am not interested in excuses." Exit.

I have only had to do this a couple of times but it really did help not to have to think of how to react on the spot.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:19 PM on January 1, 2015 [19 favorites]


Holy hell. I have worked in the southern US all my career and had someone once make a joking remark to a coworker about lynching them as a terrible and stupid piece of levity. It didn't matter - she was immediately fired and they were right to do so.

I would talk to your boss.
posted by winna at 5:22 PM on January 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Is this shit okay ANYWHERE, let alone in the fucking workplace?

No. Very much not. Whether it is moronic abhorrent behavior from a co-worker or part of a long-standing pattern of outrageous conduct isn't something we can judge here, but that's not really the point. It is not okay.

Should I-- or anyone-- just let that slide?

Again, no. And I think you know that based on your immediate visceral reaction to the incident.
posted by zachlipton at 5:37 PM on January 1, 2015


Report it and note that not reporting it, and not taking action, could put the company at risk for lawsuits.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 5:40 PM on January 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


My jaw literally just dropped on reading your question. Tell your boss, tell HR, let them take action.
posted by arcticseal at 6:11 PM on January 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


HR exists to protect the company, not you.

Assume nothing will happen if you report this, other than perhaps making yourself a target for office politics. In my experience, this is the most likely outcome.

Spend your energy looking for a new job if this is a deal breaking issue for you.
posted by paulcole at 6:16 PM on January 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


1) Let's not overreact. People say dumb shit and instantly wish they could take it back.

2) You must tell your boss that it made you uncomfortable.

3) Your boss must then have a discussion with the employee, probably a formal "pre-action investigation" to see if there is more to this story than 1). It must be documented even if no disciplinary action is warranted, so that the person cannot play dumb in the future. (again, that might be assuming bad faith, but the boss can't make a mistake here.)

4) Disciplinary action may in fact be warranted, and taken.

You will not see 3) and 4) for privacy reasons, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Your part is done after 2) unless it becomes a trend.
posted by ctmf at 6:41 PM on January 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm going to disagree with previous answers. Since this happened in earshot of "our boss," presumably meaning also the speaker's direct supervisor, I don't know what remains for you to do. Your boss probably heard everything you did, and at worse must have noticed something happened, enough to make further inquiries. You have no new information that would open up some previously unjustifiable course of action.
posted by d. z. wang at 6:55 PM on January 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I live and work in Atlanta, and under no circumstances would that be okay, or not objected to. Hell, I'd have stood up and said something straight to her face, right then and there. But, I'm kind of a hothead when it comes to stuff like that.

Go to your boss and pretend that he wasn't there and didn't hear it. Say to him, "Boss, we had an incident yesterday where Karen stood up and said to Bill's inquiry about Joe's work, NO HE WAS NOT. We were about to get out the lynchin' rope! I am extremely uncomfortable with all racist comments and this is probably one of the worst things I've ever heard. Please say something to her to let her know not to say these things around me because I consider it hostile and unprofessional. I'd like to report it to HR because I honestly believe that it's that bad, but I wanted to give you a heads up first."

I promise, he's all over it, but there may be some kind of process. If for some reason he has bigger fish to fry, you just beefed up THIS fish, and he has to do something.

HR probably has a form or a process for reporting stuff like this. Just shoot your HR person a short email explaining what happened. Leave out all of your feelings except for, uncomfortable and unprofessional. If there's something official you need to do, the HR person will let you know.

After that, drop it. If you go to Karen now, it's just drama. But, if there's a next time, get in her face right then and there. It doesn't have to be all indignant, just say, "Dude! Uncool. Take it back and apologize."

Sorry you had to deal with this.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:55 PM on January 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow. I can't believe someone would say that in 2014. I think it's an excellent idea to have a script ready for next time. Sounds like your company is large enough to have a process for this. And, luckily, it's not your word against hers; others heard it too. So yes, I would be inclined to say something. I would suggest doing it in writing (eg an email). That way your words won't get distorted, and, it'll be easy for HR to just print a copy and put it into her file. You are a good person for caring enough to do something
posted by leslievictoria at 7:01 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, take it to your supervisor (and HR, if your company is big enough to have an HR), but I'd have fairly low expectations about something happening. That would probably be a "verbal counseling and written followup to HR" kind of event where I work, and unless it was repeated no one would get fired. Your company may be different, and hopefully they will take it very seriously and make it clear how unacceptable that was.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:37 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm going to hip you to the technique you want to use here....

"Dear Boss (CC HR),

On X date, Y employee responded to Z question from our regular mail person with, "BLAH BLAH Exact Words."

This happened in A location. B, C, and D people wear within 4 feet when Y employee made this statement.

Regards,

OP"


You don't need even ONE descriptive word in that letter/email from you. Do. Not. Editorialize. After this, drop it. Never mention it again. If you are asked "I simply reported what was said."

Please do this. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 7:43 PM on January 1, 2015 [45 favorites]


Yeah, I agree with jbenben's suggestion not to editorialize. Statements like "the worst thing I've ever heard" are going to get your complaint dismissed and get you labeled as That Person, whereas "Hey, this is what happened, I'm just saying, you know, liability what what?" may have more of an impact.
posted by corb at 7:57 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you should write it up and send it to HR and your boss. Something like this:

"There was an incident in the office yesterday that I believe I need to bring to your attention. [Describe what happened, without editorializing.] [X, Y and Z were nearby when it happened, but I don't know if they heard what Colleague said.] I'm reporting this because I'm concerned that what Colleague said may have damaged our company's reputation among the people within earshot, and could possibly expose us to legal action. I'm aware that I won't be involved in the investigation or internal deliberations about what to do next, and that's fine with me. If you need any more information please just tell me."

Good luck. I'd be very surprised if you experienced any repercussions.
posted by Susan PG at 9:38 PM on January 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


I worked a teenage retail job, in a setting that was not technically Southern but definitely "on the border," culturally. A given breakroom sojourn could see coworkers making comments about "niggers," cracking homophobic jokes, and even getting giggles by flashing their (official?) KKK membership cards. Not exactly "lynchin' rope" level stuff, but still sickening.

After hearing someone boast about forcing his kid to take an F on a school assignment, rather than researching MLK, I'd had enough. I put in my notice, effective yesterday. My immediate boss said two instructive things during my ragequit/exit interview:

1) "Why didn't you say something about this before, instead of letting it build up?"

2) "Well, I'm not racist; my kids and I love to watch those people play basketball!"

What I'm getting at is, follow everyone's advice to make a paper trail on this and get it officially on the radar/record. Doing so is far more helpful, for all involved, than stewing and second-guessing. But also what I'm getting at is, be prepared for your efforts to meet with denial, blame-shifting, and inaction. Things have changed since the mid 90s, in terms of awareness and workplace policies, so hopefully this won't be the case. Especially if, as Jay Smooth illustrates, you are careful with your framing. However, there is a chance that the recipients of your complaint (HR, your boss, the offending employee) may react defensively. In which case, you'll need to decide if you can continue working there in good conscience.

Anyway, kudos for taking a stand on this; here's hoping for a good outcome for all.
posted by credible hulk at 10:11 PM on January 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


I wonder, could it be that she wasn't thinking about the racial connotations when she said it? I can see somebody saying that same thing about a white mail guy too, maybe. In that case it would be professionally inappropriate, but it probably wouldn't be worth her getting fired. If you've never heard her say anything else racist, I wonder if this could have been one of those moments when somebody says something incredibly offensive without meaning it like that or even realizing how it sounds. It happens, sometimes.

Assuming she's never shown signs of being a bigot before, I'd be tempted to ask her about it. Find out if she meant it like that and let her know that if she ever says anything like that again she will get her ass fired. It could be that she would be mortified to realize just how awful she sounded.

(Maybe I'm giving this woman too much credit, and what she said was really just straight-up racist. But it would be unfortunate to get this woman fired if she didn't intend to say anything racist.)

(And yes, I know my name sounds weird in a discussion like this. No need to make any "epony-"anything jokes, please.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:54 PM on January 1, 2015


Yeah, you should write it up and send it to HR and your boss. Something like this:

"There was an incident in the office yesterday that I believe I need to bring to your attention. [Describe what happened, without editorializing.] [X, Y and Z were nearby when it happened, but I don't know if they heard what Colleague said.] I'm reporting this because I'm concerned that what Colleague said may have damaged our company's reputation among the people within earshot, and could possibly expose us to legal action. I'm aware that I won't be involved in the investigation or internal deliberations about what to do next, and that's fine with me. If you need any more information please just tell me."

Good luck. I'd be very surprised if you experienced any repercussions.


If I was going to go the email route I wouldn't even elaborate that much. I think I'd take a leaf out of Jack Webb's book and stick to just the bare facts, letting the boss draw his or her own conclusions from them. My version of the script above would look more like this:

"There was an incident in the office yesterday that I believe I need to bring to your attention. X, Y, Z, and I were at {location(s)} when [Describe what happened, without editorializing.] [X, Y and Z were nearby when it happened, but I don't know if they heard what Colleague said.] I'm reporting this because I'm concerned that what Colleague said may have damaged our company's reputation among the people within earshot, and could possibly expose us to legal action. I'm aware that I won't be involved in the investigation or internal deliberations about what to do next, and that's fine with me. If you need any more information please just tell me. let me know."
  • I moved X, Y, and Z into the description of the setting so it looks less like I'm naming X, Y, and Z as potential witnesses, but then having to add the disclaimer that I don't know if they heard.
  • I struck the part about why I'm reporting it, because I don't want the boss to think I'm telling them how to do their job of protecting the company's interests.
  • Just personal preference, but I thought "let me know" sounded a bit more dispassionate than "just tell me."

I worked a teenage retail job, in a setting that was not technically Southern but definitely "on the border," culturally. A given breakroom sojourn could see coworkers making comments about "niggers," cracking homophobic jokes, and even getting giggles by flashing their (official?) KKK membership cards. Not exactly "lynchin' rope" level stuff, but still sickening.

What I'm getting at is, follow everyone's advice to make a paper trail on this and get it officially on the radar/record. Doing so is far more helpful, for all involved, than stewing and second-guessing. But also what I'm getting at is, be prepared for your efforts to meet with denial, blame-shifting, and inaction.

Anyway, kudos for taking a stand on this; here's hoping for a good outcome for all.


Same general sort of deal here, but way up north in freezing New York. Yeah, I guess this is what I'm getting at - my optimism would be cautious. I admire you greatly for getting involved. Too well I remember that bottom-dropped-out sensation the first time I heard something like that in the workplace.

I probably shouldn't be saying any of this; it's just that I so remember how much it hurt when I used to expect that situations like this would end well for everybody. I guess that's why pessimistic, jaded old grouchfaces like me need to stay in touch with younger folks.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:54 PM on January 1, 2015


To more directly answer your question:

No, this shit is not okay ANYWHERE, let alone in the fucking workplace - but I've learned never to underestimate people's ability to get away with shit that is egregiously not okay.

None of us should let it slide - but as much as I'm ashamed to admit it, there have been times when I've truly believed I had no other choice but to do so for my own survival, and I doubt I'm the only one.

I hope you or someone else in your workplace is in a position to do better than I did.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:02 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


When I was an undergrad in Charlotte, NC a few years ago, someone found a couple of rope nooses in a janitors closet on campus. The university administration freaked out, and sent everyone on campus an email about it.

This situation you describe has far less ambiguity.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:11 AM on January 2, 2015


The email suggestions not to editorialize are good, but also say it offended YOU. This is just as much a fact as the others. It also moves this from "something bad could have happened" to "something bad DID happen."

A manager ignores something like that at their own peril.
posted by ctmf at 1:18 AM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Should I do anything? Should I talk to my boss, who CLEARLY didn't hear her?

Your entire question and description of the incident strikes me, a 40 something black male, as very bizarre, as it's ALL about you. Seriously, you're so concerned about racism, yet only mention the black people, who were also there, in passing.

There's zero information about the dynamics of the office, little information about the person who made the comment and instead it's all about you. You're being very dramatic about all this, while those most directly affected seem to be taking it all in stride.

Look, racism happens all the time and it happens on a vast scale from minor slights to outright killing and abuse. It's neither surprising nor new. It's great that you want to do something, but racism isn't always a black and white issue, he.

Rather than approaching this situation as amoral hill that must be conquered and fixed, approach it as a learning experience. Talk to your co-workers and/or boss about what happened. It's possible that stuff is tolerated from this one worker because she's old and it's just the way she is, while doing generally good work and no one wants to fire her (a common theme in the south). There could be all sorts of personal and office relationships in play here, that you seemingly know nothing about, so chill a bit before getting all worked up about this. 'Cause I gotta tell ya, there's little that's worst than some worked up white person who wants to fix racial problems they know little about.

So yeah, talk to your boss, at least, but definitely tone down the overly emotional reaction. It probably wont' help when presenting the situation and why it bothered you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:36 AM on January 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I mean it's horrible what they said, but why did you have a bigger reaction to it than the African-Americans who were also there to observe it?

Don't white knight...literally. Ask the people who also observed this how they felt and what you all might do. If the consensus is to go to your boss or HR, then do so.

I think sometimes people get offended on behalf of other people and that's not cool. While what was said was offensive, I just think there's something missing that maybe you don't understand and that's why I think talking with your co-workers might help you figure that out.
posted by inturnaround at 7:54 AM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I mean it's horrible what they said, but why did you have a bigger reaction to it than the African-Americans who were also there to observe it?

I don't know OP's skin color, but the reason it had such a huge impact on me the first time was that, like a lot of white folks in the U.S., I grew up in a lily-white bubble being told by Limbaugh-type ignorami that blatant racism magically ended in 1970. Intellectually, I knew it wasn't true, but knowing something happens and witnessing it for the first time are two different kettles of fish.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:03 AM on January 2, 2015


That's nice, but there's zero need for the OP to make it all about her reaction as a white person.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:07 AM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Please tell your HR department.

Though I am extremely Southern and raised by Southern men and women, I have heard that term a thousand times towards myself as a child, and it wasn't meant in a racist context. However, this is a WORK environment and people are sensative to that sort of thing, whether she meant it in a racist context or not, it needs to be addressed so it doesn't ever happen again.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 8:36 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


When people cast my behavior in the worst possible light, I say I'll discuss it with you but first you have to find an explanation for my behavior that puts me in a positive light. Most of the time they refuse. Strongly. My response is always the same, which is a diplomatic version of asking them if they're unable or unwilling? Either way, I can ignore whatever they first said because it was about them, not about me.

Looking for a positive view on the office incident, I see:

> She didn't like it, and she let everyone know.

She took it out hard on the regular mail guy. Yes, that's still negative, but not as negative as your interpretation.

>Regular Mail Guy is shocked. He doesn't know how to react to something so staggeringly inappropriate,

I don't know what to make of this. It depends on whether your description is how he described it to you or if they're your observations. Maybe your observations were spot on. Maybe they were colored by your emotions.

>When I got back in, everyone was walking around, doing their work like that shit didn't just happen.

For them it was no big deal for reasons you don't understand. Twice on new jobs the manager warned me about a person, saying something like we're waiting for him to quit and until them there isn't much anyone can do except not respond to his bait.
posted by Homer42 at 8:41 AM on January 2, 2015


In today's modern world, any mention of lynching is deliberately racist and controversial. It's possible that:
- in unmixed company with all persons involved in or able to hear the conversation known
- where you know their senses of humor and their tolerance
that you could get away with a reference like that, but for me, I generally don't mention the topic unless it's something topical as in:
- actually relevant to the topic of conversation
- just, like I'm not just bringing it up to bait someone or harass or verbally assault or bully someone but instead bringing it up so that it does more work than that within the framework of the conversation.

Because of that, because the coworker in question just sort of needlessly brought it up, I would tell your manager. Not just because social justice, but because the subject is so fraught and abjectly racist that your not mentioning it could be read as racist and/or shielding or covering for a coworker who is pretty obviously not worth sticking your neck out to protect or to be perceived as protecting.
posted by kalessin at 11:28 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Though I am extremely Southern and raised by Southern men and women, I have heard that term a thousand times towards myself as a child, and it wasn't meant in a racist context. However, this is a WORK environment and people are sensative to that sort of thing, whether she meant it in a racist context or not, it needs to be addressed so it doesn't ever happen again.

A very good point. Also, ideally, the coworker should learn that no matter what your intent is, there are certain things you say that take on a different meaning than you may have intended, depending on to whom and about whom you're speaking. Intent is important, but it's not everything; context also absolutely needs to be considered.

- - - - -

That's nice, but there's zero need for the OP to make it all about her reaction as a white person.

While I get that the OP wasn't the actual target, her reaction is the only thing she has any experience of or control over, and she's (I assume) a white person. If your advice is, "You should back off and let the mail room worker handle it himself," that's a fair point that I wouldn't dream of arguing with. But this post is about the OP's reaction because it's the OP's post and not the mail room worker's.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:46 PM on January 2, 2015


OP, don't need to make it about your reaction as a white person. But you can in fact make it about your reaction as a person. I mean, I think jbenben's framing is great, just the facts, keep the editorializing to social media, and maybe in your back pocket if Shitty Racist Coworker ever confronts you (her:"Why did you email the boss and HR? It was a joke!!!" you:"No, it wasn't, and you're a racist bag of shit, don't talk to me ever again.").
posted by disconnect at 1:43 PM on January 2, 2015


Yeah, don't call a co-worker a racist bag of shit and don't tell them never to talk to you again. That's not going to work in a business setting at all.

While I get that the OP wasn't the actual target, her reaction is the only thing she has any experience of or control over, and she's (I assume) a white person.

Yeah, in the post, she clearly states she's a white person and her overreaction narcissistic reaction was the point of my reply.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:23 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Yeah, I mean it's horrible what they said, but why did you have a bigger reaction to it than the African-Americans who were also there to observe it

My guess: because racism being what it is, in a workplace a white woman can express anger or disgust at racism more freely than black people without worrying that they'll come across as an Angry Black Man or an Angry Black Woman.

We don't know how her co-workers reacted when they had more privacy.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:59 PM on January 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


We also don't know if the offender realized her mistake and apologized while OP was swooning in the stairwell. Or in private to the mailroom person later.

OP, please report it, it could be serious. But trust that the appropriate thing will be done, and that could very well be nothing but a "I'm disappointed, please be more careful with your words here" in private with her supervisor (recorded in her personnel file). Barring past history of the same thing in her file or a racist rant in her boss's office, that's the most likely outcome.

If the mailroom guy has a complaint, the mailroom guy will make his complaint, same as you. It's not your place to be his hero, if that's what this is about.
posted by ctmf at 4:42 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Personally, I don't consider it narcissistic to feel distressed about being stuck in an environment where the people around to are being awful to each other. It was traumatic for me to watch my Dad beat up my sister - traumatic in a different way than it was when I happened to be on the receiving end, but when I think about those days the memories of having to watch still hurt.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:48 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Actually, that "I'm disappointed" talk would include a positive statement that language like that is not acceptable in the workplace and further occurrences may result etc., for corporate ass-covering/future ammunition)
posted by ctmf at 4:51 PM on January 2, 2015


When violence, abuse, or murder is expressed about, or perpetrated against, a fellow human being or group of human beings - I am upset. Not narcissicm, just plain old empathy and compassion. And a basic healthy horror over some people's inhumanity towards others.

That skin color, social class, religion, culture, gender, or whatever else are some people's motivation or excuse for committing violence, abuse, subjugation - I mean, you only have to worry about those secondary characteristics if you're trying to argue the violence, abuse, or subjugation is somehow warranted because those people are "other." If you don't think those secondary characteristics negate a being's humanity - then you're good!

It's enough the coworker mentioned murdering the substitute mail guy, even if it was a little bit hyperbole.

That lynching is murder, and a tragic shameful and traumatic feature of our recent cultural history... Surely the coworker will grok this after HR and management speak to her, if she hasn't figured it out already on her own after her tasteless comment was met with crickets.

In short, I don't think anyone needs to be a card carrying member of any particular group (aggressor or aggressed against) to feel this bad thing is really really bad and requires right action.
posted by jbenben at 7:55 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The black people in the room might feel less empowered to speak up. (Yes even tho boss is black.) So they might not. Or they might have spoken up and it's being handled according to procedures. OP is required to report any infractions of rules to her superior and should do so. It is not white knighting; she should use her privileged status and report.
posted by Mistress at 6:58 AM on January 6, 2015


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