Is this bullying, if so what type, and what should I do?
July 29, 2016 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I feel like I was publicly bullied at a board meeting, but I don't know what to do.

Some context: So I'm (cis white male) sitting on the board (half cis white men half cis white women) of a college housing cooperative. We're a fairly young cohort (20-30ish), though I'm at the older end of the spectrum. During an ongoing conversation about diversity, I felt the board officers were limiting the scope of our conversation to exclude racial minorities in lieu of only talking about economic diversity. They wanted to define "diversity" as economic diversity and "inclusivity" as economically accessible. This was a decision made at the executive committee level between the last meeting and this meeting. I admittedly balked and strongly and emotionally disagreed. I voiced one of our most problematic issues is racial diversity (our housing coop is 70% white vs 45% white at the university, and we're state subsidized) and talking about economic justice alone is very frustrating as we've been having these conversations for years, and speaking strictly economically is skirting a very important issue.

The will of the board seemed to be they wanted to push on with economic diversity alone, but, as coopers are wont to do, kept looking to see how I was responding to the continuance and started doing a lot of thumb polls to see if people agreed. A lot of eyes would dart in my direction and I began to feel like I was really derailing. People said they would "get to" racial diversity at a later date, but this was the focus for now. I've heard that before, but felt terrible not trusting that intention. I decided I would go, to take care of myself (this situation elicited a very visceral reaction, though I'm fairly certain I wasn't rude or disrespectful to anyone). I apologized for derailing and said I needed to go to take care of myself. I recommended the board budget for an outside consultant, as this has been an ongoing unresolved issue, and that I supported the efforts that had gone into preparing for the day's conversation. I stated I didn't blame anyone present for the state of things, but that I did need to excuse myself.

As I was apologizing, excusing myself, and making my recommendation outlined above, another board member (cis white male) exclaimed "See you later!" and began waving exuberantly. I'll call him Will. My back was mostly to him as I continued gathering my things and explain why I was excusing myself. He then exclaimed "bye!"and continued waiving and was smiling broadly. As I made for the door, he was still waving excitedly and smiling broadly while looking right at me.

A little background: Will used to date a housemate and we've had very limited interactions in the past. My feelings towards him were fairly neutral until this interaction. He has, during one of our previous interactions, said he didn't like "Social Justice Warriors." When he stated that, I had pushed back asking what he meant, and asking if he didn't think there was a need for social justice in today's society (large metropolitan area in the U.S.). He said sure, but it's the ones that are "really up in your face about it" that need to "chill out." He presents fairly hippy/coop-core (tats, thrifted clothing, messy appearance, etc), so I thought that was odd, but different views abound in coops.

A little background on me: I grew up in an emotionally abusive household with a sadistic older brother, so interactions like this can really throw me for a loop. I could go into detail on this, but suffice it to say I go to therapy weekly and support groups twice a week with sponsors and all that. I wish I could just "shake this off" but it's sticking with me.

At the time I felt like I knew what he was doing, but the emotional impact of just needing to go and take care of myself in the first place was taking precedent. I felt like his joy in the face of my stepping out to take care of myself was.... I don't know? This is where I get lost. But it feels like bullying/perpetration/hostile, and the fact that it occurred in front of 12 or so people I'm supposed to continue interacting with on this board really exacerbated the effect.

I've since sent a letter to the board outlining my concerns about our racial inequality and how it contributes to racial economic inequality. I did not address anything regarding Will as I was very purpose driven in the letter. The president (cis woman) and VP (cis woman)(who were facilitating the dialogue and were the ones who wanted to focus on economic inequality) were VERY responsive to my letter and seemed to really understand where I came from. They voiced that they did not feel like anything I did was a personal attack, and understood my frustration. We met at a committee meeting Will was unexpectedly there for the beginning and left once the committee meeting kicked off. While he was there he would glance in my direction then laugh under his breath/away from me. That happened a couple times. I almost brought it up but felt it would make the other people really uncomfortable, and I didn't know how to articulate what i felt to be abusive behavior.

The organization as a whole has a "conflict mediation" continuum where you try and resolve it with the person first, then get a mediator, then an entire house. But I don't want to tell this person he hurt my feelings, I just want to communicate his behavior was inappropriate and hostile, and not to do it again. I'm not sure how to do that though, or if that's the best way to take care of myself.

Anyway. That's where I'm at. Any insights would be appreciated.
posted by avalonian to Human Relations (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Will is a jerk and everyone else in that room thinks so too, even if they happen to disagree with your stance on the racial diversity issue. I personally don't see his behavior as rising to the level of bullying based upon just this incident, but he certainly sounds awful and not worth your emotional energy. I doubt that any effort on your part to get him to acknowledge his behavior as inappropriate will end well for you.

If I were in your shoes, I would do nothing but continue to be a respectful, professional adult in these meetings. And I would also consider leaving my position on the board if I got so emotional during discussions that I felt I needed to leave the room.
posted by something something at 7:59 AM on July 29, 2016 [33 favorites]


Will was being an asshole for sure, but I would not consider this to be bullying. Try to not let him occupy any more of your mental time. This isn't worth ruminating on.
posted by Fig at 8:03 AM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


What's your question? Will's a dick, but it's not "bullying". What outcome do you want?
posted by brainmouse at 8:09 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the world of politics people will use a variety of strategies to win. As a politician (and sitting on a co-op board is a political position) your job is to anticipate which of these strategies will be used against you, and be prepared. It's a bit like a chess game. But people are never going to be cordial just because you expect them to be cordial. You're an equal, dealing with equals, so what you have described is not bullying. If this person was a workmate or a manger, it might be though. Toughen up and smarten up.
posted by My Dad at 8:15 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: I would also consider leaving my position on the board if I got so emotional during discussions that I felt I needed to leave the room.

Totally. I'm only on for the Summer and recognizing why these dynamics aren't good for my mental health in general. I'm going to stay on the committee to combat oppression, but dropping off the board after the next meeting at the latest.

I appreciate the "not worth emotional energy" / "not worth ruminating on" statements. That's what I'm leaning into and recognizing how it just triggers old hurts I'm working through in therapy and whatnot.
posted by avalonian at 8:17 AM on July 29, 2016


Best answer: I disagree, this is bullying. Will is using social and emotional appeals to silence the OP, rather than engaging and disagreeing on the merits of what they say.

Fortunately it doesn't appear to be entirely working, and at least the leadership is on side. I'd suggest, as a first step, getting them to address this behaviour at the next meeting if it continues. They have many tools to do this with from reminding participants to stay on track to barring him from the board.

I would not suggest confronting Will directly, as that's very unlikely to be productive or get what the OP wants. Bullying is a social behaviour and so needs an organizational solution. The group needs to tell the perpetrator that what he's doing isn't acceptable.

It might help to say to the executive that you're not looking to shut down discussion or different viewpoints, it's that you think members should be able to bring reasonable ideas to the board without having them shouted down.
posted by bonehead at 8:24 AM on July 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Response by poster: In the world of politics people will use a variety of strategies to win.
I appreciate the perspective. This board thing blurs the line between personal and professional as it's also somewhere I live.

Toughen up and smarten up.
I wish it were that easy for me. In my early twenties I was the embodiment of "tough and smart." I would have nodded along with this. I had walls for boundaries and was basically unshakeable. I worked in crisis situations and had entire teams looking for me for direction. Promotion, promotion, promotion. Then again, I was shitty and dismissive of a lot of people and viewpoints. I've pursued a more introspective approach since then and been less harmful to those around me.

Looking over this though, there are parts of that that could still be useful. This may be an instance of the pendulum swinging too far the other direction. Where I've thrown the baby out with the bathwater out of fear of ever hurting anyone. Thanks for your perspective.
posted by avalonian at 8:24 AM on July 29, 2016


I see no bullying. I see Will thinking you are oversensitive to disagreement and he wants to let you know that and chose to do so in a way that is kind of shitty. The structure of your question also suggests to me you are highly invested in 'identity markers' as being relevant to personal interactions / value in a way that not everyone may appreciate or agree with.

I think seeking out formal 'mediation' between you and Will would only further the existing dynamic in a way that would be counterproductive.
posted by modernnomad at 8:26 AM on July 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


I felt like his joy in the face of my stepping out to take care of myself was.... I don't know? This is where I get lost.

The word you're looking for is immaturity. It wasn't joy; he was taunting you. He's basically doing a barely adult version of screeching "SEE YA WOULDN'T WANT TO BE YA!"

But it feels like bullying/perpetration/hostile, and the fact that it occurred in front of 12 or so people I'm supposed to continue interacting with on this board really exacerbated the effect.

First of all, this isn't bullying. It is two people with poor conflict resolution skills coming up against each other. You are on a recovery path and probably just not far enough down it to provide the fortitude needed to deal with the fact that along the way, there will be assholes.

I apologized for derailing and said I needed to go to take care of myself.

In future, you may wish to ponder the wisdom of doing your therapy on the inside in public settings. Needing to leave is fine, but simply excuse yourself and apologise for being unable to stay. Saying "I need to go take care of myself" is not very professional, courts drama, and just laying your own blood in the water.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:30 AM on July 29, 2016 [45 favorites]


Best answer: Will was being a jerk. If he is so blatantly rude at another meeting, I think you should calmly and directly address whoever is running it at the time and whose job it is to keep it professional. ("Excuse me, do you consider this appropriate behavior for a board meeting?") Otherwise, putting it into the category of "bullying" or any other doesn't really help. It's like the people who write in asking if xyz behavior is "abuse"--the issue isn't whether it fits into a particular box, but how it makes you feel. Knowing he's a jerk, you can avoid him socially, but you're unlikely to get any kind of acknowledgement from him of his jerky behavior. All you can do is insist on being treated professionally in professional situations if he misbehaves in that context again.
posted by praemunire at 8:32 AM on July 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Best answer: I've seen such kind of thing, and I'm sorry it was done to you. Nominally progressive people can be such assholes.

There's some good advice here, but I also find myself thinking of the deep background on this. Will read the room and got the sense that he could do what he did. If the room had felt different to him, he wouldn't have acted that way. The room felt the way it did because you pushed some people who tell themselves that they are progressive on racial justice and that caused ego wounds that they were not astute enough to process. This is very, very common. It could, admittedly, have gotten a lot more bloodthirsty - but I suspect that what was going on in that room was that you made a group of kind of passive-aggressive people uncomfortable, the mood was awful and the person who acts on that kind of mood determined that he could be an asshole, and no one called him on it. I have been in a zillion progressive meetings and people don't do that shit without being called on it unless the mood is right.

Basically, your board is fucked up. You did the right thing to press them and they're not ready to hear it.

Insofar as you being you: I bet you read the room too well. People were almost certainly giving off "I am pissed and hostile" signals (even if they didn't really want to) because that's how this kind of convo in progressive groups goes down - the room gets cool and slow because everyone feels hurt that consensus has been broken and that they have been shown up as not being awesome leftists. If you're like me, you read that room too damn well and can't ignore what you read, hence the upset.

I am still not that good at not reading the room, but very occasionally I find that scaffolding helps. If I plan what is probably going to happen and prepare for how I think people will probably act, and if I tell myself in the moment, "yep, just like I thought, they are NOT into it", that makes it more like a play and I can stay more detached.

But good for you for pressing them - I have been in so many white-dominated left projects that just never get any better on race and it makes you want to throw up after a while.
posted by Frowner at 8:38 AM on July 29, 2016 [47 favorites]


I've served on a few boards, and there is a dynamic (admittedly a little dysfunctional sometimes) wherein the board has a leadership, and that leadership does not really want a dissenting view (outside of a few "safe" bounds) to come out in an open session. For example, it may be okay to snark about the quality of the dinner at the last meeting, but a statement like "we need to move the venue of the meeting" will get you some stink-eye, because it is a bit of a derail. It will take a whole lot of planning to move the venue.

I've chaired some boards too. There is a need to do justice to the mission (strategy), there is a need to get votes done so that things can move forward that are necessary to keep the doors open (tactical), and there is a need to get done in an hour. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

A lot of the real work gets done before the meeting. The senior board officers typically know more about the work, DO more of the work, and the open session of the board is more about informing a broader base of stakeholders about the activities of the board, and ratifying decisions.

The more acceptable way of expressing concern on an issue is to talk to the senior officers directly and privately. "During our meetings we've been framing diversity as economic diversity, and I think we should be more conscious of racial diversity apart from just the economic factors..."

A couple of things can happen from there - an appropriate response would be to enable you as a board member to look into the matter, or form a committee. Or they might share some information with you about some constraints they have that keep them from pursuing that (made-up example: there's another board on campus which has racial diversity in its wheelhouse; leave it to them).

An inappropriate response from leadership is to stonewall, or not listen. And then, if the issue is important enough to you, you get to decide if raising the issue in public is worth doing. But the effectiveness of this is often low, and the social costs are often high. Your call.

I'm appreciative of your internal issues, but leaving a meeting in progress is considered a mic drop. All these people watching this are not aware (and maybe don't care) how you feel inside, and are going to respond to your leaving as an extreme criticism of the board and by extension them.

So "Will" is acting out about that. Sounds like a "bye, Felicia" kind of move on his part. And I doubt that was considered real cool either. Overall it was an awkward scene that didn't move the ball forward for you.

Here's what I'd do. Not sure you're gonna like it, but here's what I'd do:

- I'd apologize to the board chair for leaving. Don't over explain - just say that it was you, not him/her, and you're sorry if it was interpreted as an insult. And I'd ASK the board chair if your proposal is something the board can consider doing something about, and if so what would be the right approach.

- I'd ignore "Will." Really, I'd act like it didn't happen. If Will has a soul, he probably feels stupid about doing that, and if he doesn't, confronting it will do good.

- if the board isn't moving in a direction you can support, send in a resignation letter. Put on your own oxygen mask first.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:45 AM on July 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Response by poster: you are highly invested in 'identity markers' as being relevant to personal interactions

I brought this up so it didn't appear I was a woman being harassed by a man, or a person of color voicing a pro-racial diversity perspective and being ostracized. I wanted to make sure people understood we're both white dudes, and there's not another power dynamic at play.
posted by avalonian at 8:57 AM on July 29, 2016 [18 favorites]


Response by poster: Needing to leave is fine, but simply excuse yourself and apologise for being unable to stay. Saying "I need to go take care of myself" is not very professional, courts drama, and just laying your own blood in the water.


It's a housing cooperative and things like stepping out to take care of yourself are fairly common. I wouldn't do this in my professional capacity at work. It's a blurred line but I agree I could put on more of a "professional" hat in these settings.
posted by avalonian at 8:59 AM on July 29, 2016


People are being very gentle in the feedback you're getting about your own behavior. Leaving a board meeting because you're not getting your way is highly conspicuous and unprofessional behavior. Doing so with an announcement (!) that you're doing it "to take care of yourself" is going to make even kind people see you as a problem to be handled. I understand that this is a college co-op and not a work setting, but with the age ranges you've mentioned, it's time to adhere to adult behavioral norms.

Ignore Will, apologize to the Chair for leaving, and moving forward take a moment to think about your behavior's effect on how you're perceived. And if the board is distressing to you, for any reason, it's ok to resign.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:03 AM on July 29, 2016 [28 favorites]


Response by poster: I identify a lot with your perspective, Frowner.

Insofar as you being you: I bet you read the room too well. People were almost certainly giving off "I am pissed and hostile" signals (even if they didn't really want to) because that's how this kind of convo in progressive groups goes down - the room gets cool and slow because everyone feels hurt that consensus has been broken and that they have been shown up as not being awesome leftists. If you're like me, you read that room too damn well and can't ignore what you read, hence the upset.

This is probably right. I have friends who have basically given up our organization making any ground on diversity. I didn't want to give up yet, but here we are. Okay I haven't given up, but I'm changing how I'm addressing it.

If I plan what is probably going to happen and prepare for how I think people will probably act, and if I tell myself in the moment, "yep, just like I thought, they are NOT into it", that makes it more like a play and I can stay more detached.

I often do this! I didn't expect at all what happened. I felt pretty blind-sided by the shift in focus and wasn't prepared to take a strong minority viewpoint, and also wasn't expecting such pushback. But a part of me just couldn't go along with their discussion based on the way they framed it. I've seen and read too many instances of good-hearted initiatives thwarted because of how they were framed.

But good for you for pressing them - I have been in so many white-dominated left projects that just never get any better on race and it makes you want to throw up after a while.

Thank you. This is basically where I was at.
posted by avalonian at 9:16 AM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Best answer: OP, I guess only you can really know what kind of environment is really involved - but I have totally been in left situations where not only do people "step out" for "self care" but there's actually a sort of social premium on it, and "please feel free to step out for self care" is announced at the start of the meeting. That kind of group is not the same kind of group as, say, a library board or the board of a large non-profit. (In fact, I've been in situations where there's a performative aspect to "self care", and I'm kind of not into it.)

But my point is, it's reasonable to make sure that the advice you're getting matches the kind of board you're dealing with. "Stepping out for self care" would be bizarre on a hospital board or a dance company board, but entirely normal if you were on the board of an earthy-crunchy small left project.
posted by Frowner at 9:17 AM on July 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


Best answer: I'm kind of surprised that everyone is ganging up on you. Attacking you for being mildly "unprofessional" (who cares) when there's an ongoing race problem in the co-op is pretty much the apex of respectability bullshit. You don't actually have to worry about what every douchebag thinks of you personally when you're not on the clock. It's more important to address injustice. It can also be overwhelming when everyone seems to be pushing back on what you're saying, and it's a good skill to learn to handle it, but it's not like you're a bad person because it got to you.

I think Will is trying to bully you, and I think ignoring him and letting him sit in his own shit is the best strategy, because you guys are old enough that other people are going to think he's an idiot.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:18 AM on July 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


Response by poster: Here's what I'd do. Not sure you're gonna like it, but here's what I'd do:

- I'd apologize to the board chair for leaving. Don't over explain - just say that it was you, not him/her, and you're sorry if it was interpreted as an insult. And I'd ASK the board chair if your proposal is something the board can consider doing something about, and if so what would be the right approach.

Did that. Worked very well. Emailed with them and talked with them in person. We're on very good terms now, and I'm exploring some options with local nonprofits I work with professionally. I think the board will continue on their economic justice path, and I'll stay on a committee to push for diversity initiatives that are important to me.

- I'd ignore "Will." Really, I'd act like it didn't happen. If Will has a soul, he probably feels stupid about doing that, and if he doesn't, confronting it will do good.

That's what I did at the committee meeting and it felt right. I guess my fear was not doing more, not being prepared for more, and then getting blindsided again. I think Frowner's recommendation of scaffolding, and preparing to ask the chair to intervene if it continues, is a good plan.

- if the board isn't moving in a direction you can support, send in a resignation letter. Put on your own oxygen mask first.

Fortunately I'm only on for the summer as a stand in for a housemate that will continue on for the academic year.
posted by avalonian at 9:20 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: People are being very gentle in the feedback you're getting about your own behavior. Leaving a board meeting because you're not getting your way is highly conspicuous and unprofessional behavior. Doing so with an announcement (!) that you're doing it "to take care of yourself" is going to make even kind people see you as a problem to be handled. I understand that this is a college co-op and not a work setting, but with the age ranges you've mentioned, it's time to adhere to adult behavioral norms.

I'm pretty good at adulting. I honestly don't think I left because I wasn't getting my way, but because the board's attempts to get me onboard with their framing of diversity were not going to get me onboard, and I felt like conversation would really grind to a halt if I'd stayed. I've read the minutes and they were able to get back to where they initially wanted to be not long thereafter.


Ignore Will, apologize to the Chair for leaving, and moving forward take a moment to think about your behavior's effect on how you're perceived. And if the board is distressing to you, for any reason, it's ok to resign.

I've basically done all these things. Though I'm less interested in how I'm perceived, and more interested in how I'm treated, and whether or not the housing cooperative where I've lived for the last 4 years will continue to contribute to the racial wealth gap as they have for decades (we've got layers of state sanctioned tax exemptions).
posted by avalonian at 9:34 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mod note: Heya, avalonian, moderator here. Ask's really not meant to be an on-going back-and-forth; it's more of an "ask your question, get some answers" thing. If you need to post an update to clarify/elaborate on a specific major missing aspect of the initial question, that's okay, but please don't continue to reply point-by-point to folks' answers in here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:36 AM on July 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I also just want to say that racial representation is important, but when it comes to race + class + education + housing, this goes beyond representation into a deep historical injustice, and good on you for pushing it. I think you handled it well, and I think Will is a racist jerk, frankly. I do agree that if he continues to be aggressive you should handle it as Frowner suggests.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:40 AM on July 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


This would make me feel angry and humiliated and like I just had the rug torn out from under my feet if it happened to me. Will was absolutely being a total asshole when he said that to you. The fact that he did it in front of a roomful of people is what really crosses the line. It reads as bullying because no one else said anything, which makes it feel like a power play where everyone in that room had turned against you.

Leaving "to take care of yourself" does look unprofessional in some environments, yes. But that does not negate the fact that Will did something wildly unprofessional himself.

A possible option, if something similar happens again, is to say in a level and measured voice so that the rest of the room can hear: "Will, could you step outside with me for a moment?" (The very best would be if the meeting chair did this, but doing it yourself works too. If you get any pushback from the chair, say "It'll only be a moment.") This is a more subtle power play against him, showing that he does not have authority over you. When you are outside the room, you look him in the eye and say some broad but firm statement like "I see what you're doing. Stop it." And then, before he even has a chance to respond, walk away. This is not a conversation. Nor is it a fight. This is about you establishing your turf in the face of this person's aggression. If you get any response or pushback from Will, just raise your eyebrows and look pointedly at him. I understand this might not be easy, but it's probably easier than coming up with a response on the spot. And hopefully you never have to use this tactic, but it may help to know what you could do if the situation came up.

That said, the moment has passed, and therefore I would recommend letting it go. Moving on is an excellent thing for your reputation in this group, keeping in mind that you're not just going to roll over and take it if it happens again. I'd also suggest apologizing less in the future - once is enough, you don't need to belabor the point. If anyone brings up the issue in the meantime, make an appeal to the broader reasons why you are all there - "We're all committed to making our coop as diverse as possible, and I'm glad we're making it happen" or a similar statement that everyone can get behind, so that you can all move on and get things done.

As far as actually getting your point across about racial diversity vs. economic diversity, you happen to have a view that's unpopular in your group, so you're going to need more social capital. Talking to people one-on-one may be more helpful. If you can find an ally, that would be great. Then, with your ally, you could figure out a strategy to convince your group. Maybe that's bringing in a guest speaker from another coop/group that has successfully made this kind of change, maybe that's presenting data about the importance of intersectionality, maybe that's interviewing minority students at your coop to see how they feel about the issue. It could be anything, but you're going to need someone else on your side. Good luck!
posted by danceswithlight at 9:46 AM on July 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think you were bullied. But being "bullied" isn't really a thing, that matters to other people, I don't think. It's not like harassment or something that might be legally actionable.

Will thought your reaction was immature and silly and way overly sensitive, probably. I tend to agree. I think his reaction was immature and a real dick move.

But in terms of what to do with all this? I wouldn't make a deal of being bullied, because this mediation you're talking about will likely exacerbate the situation. I would basically try to just ignore this mockery and whatnot coming from Will. Continue on like you're doing and try not to let it get to you.

If you can't do that, maybe try to extricate yourself from the situation. It's just too fucking hard to force disrespectful people to treat you respectfully. It's impossible to force a space to be a safe space for you -- and if you determine that it isn't, going and looking for a new space is likely the best bet.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:46 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Regarding the Board ... in politics you sometimes you have to be willing to lose graciously and temporarily. You made your point, the Board disagreed, and that should have been the end of the discussion for then. Your job would then become to re-formulate your argument, lobby Board members privately, and bring it up again at a later date with more support in hand. Live (or in this sense, maintain your credibility) to fight another day.

Regarding Will, if there's one stereotype people like Will have about "SJWs" it's that they are inherently weak people who have discovered that fear of appearing racist (or something-else-ist) can cow otherwise stronger opponents. You played right into his hands -- you came out strong, but the Board declined to be be afraid, spurned you, and then you collapsed. Be stronger next time and you'll do a lot more credit to your position.
posted by MattD at 9:48 AM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm less interested in how I'm perceived, and more interested in how I'm treated

These are, sadly, not unrelated.

There's a reason why Will felt it was socially safe to mock you as a fainting flower. To be effective on the board, you'll need to deal with that perception, even if it means acting less emotionally weak than you think you should be able to get away with given the social environment and your known personal issues. You have, at minimum, used up your quota of flounces.
posted by phantom powered at 10:08 AM on July 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


Seems the board does NOT want to do anything at all about racial diversity and uses a cover story as delay tactic to keep things as they are. I would personally let them know what they were doing and how distasteful it is...then I would resign.
posted by Postroad at 11:37 AM on July 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I agree with your goal. But be aware that sometimes being emotional and having visceral responses and then engaging in what sounds like a fairly extended public process of excusing yourself from the room can read as making the situation more about you than the issue. That's part of the stereotype of SJWs and sometimes it's true.

Slightly off topic, but if there are other coops that are doing racial diversity better, I would suggest meeting with them and finding out what worked for them in getting people on board.
posted by Candleman at 11:49 AM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


There's a reason why Will felt it was socially safe to mock you as a fainting flower.

I've known a lot of dicks who were rather headstrong in their dickishness. It could equally mean that the OP is "flouncy" or that Will is just a jackass who doesn't mind looking like it. A lot of people burn through friends/acquaintances/professional contacts because they can't keep their inner asshole inside.

Anyway, it sounds like the board is actually responding very positively with the exception of racist white crunchy hippie asshole, so I'm not sure the OP is looking for continuing lectures on how you shouldn't stand up against racist housing practices if you might get emotional about it.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:06 PM on July 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Final wrap up:

Thank you everyone for your insights. It was refreshing to get so many diverse perspectives.

So I'm not going to address Will directly unless his behavior continues. I think that's good advice.

Days later I sent an email to the board and staff outlining my view of our continued contribution to racial wealth inequality, which was responded to promptly by the President and VP, then the Membership Director (staff). They all "got it" and were pretty up front about their ignorance of concrete, local, historical injustices. I then met with the President and VP and we came up with items for action which we're all individually following up on (mostly me because I have far more contacts around the city, and this was probably the fire I needed under my own ass to make some harder asks).

As far as "flouncy" or other interesting hot takes people have come to, I don't think many people perceive me or my actions that way. Most people, when I say things like "take care of myself" or make "I" statements are like, "what? this dude?" But I find that language better suits my experience and I've adapted to it as I've grown older. I would say most of the people at the meeting were intimidated when I voiced my perspective at first (hence why I clarified I wasn't rude or disrespectful rather than clarifying that I didn't burst into tears), and that was something I thought would be anathema to any of my goals. I recognized my anger and extricated myself from the situation mainly for that reason. To clarify, I was far more likely to flip a table than faint. I don't think that's a superior position, but it seems to be what would be more valued by the sentiments voiced by some of you here. To each their own.
posted by avalonian at 2:08 PM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


This isn't the question you're asking, but step one in getting the organization to address racial diversity is to increase the diversity of its board members. The organization is only 70% white, and yet the board is 100% white? No wonder amongst themselves they don't feel any shame about whitewashing the diversity question. And it's an easier thing to address immediately than the 45% vs 70% disparity between the college population and the co-op's.
posted by nobody at 7:40 AM on July 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


whatever about bullying Will is absolutely using härskartekniker against you. These are well known in Scandinavia and you could just "fucker, don't you härskarteknik me!" at him, but it seems in English they are called master suppression techniques and that doesn't just roll off the tongue. Reading up on them and countermeasures might however be a handy thing to have in your toolkit.
posted by Iteki at 2:19 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


« Older What happens if I don't get a pulled tooth...   |   Seeking Creative Writing Instructor job. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.