One day at work a fellow supervisor wanted to show us a funny cartoon somebody emailed him. It wasn’t funny. I said it wasn’t funny. I suggested it was rather racist. They stared at me. They didn’t ask me why I thought it was racist so I proceeded to explain exactly what my perspective was. Silence.
It was a busy night at work, the day shift person left and my colleague and I did not have an opportunity to discuss it further. I was disappointed that my colleague who I rather liked did not see where I was coming from. I should know by now not to have expectations about how people will behave or react. We ate lunch together and she asked me if I was angry with her and if I thought she was racist. I responded that had no idea if she was or not. She told me I was being overly sensitive and that “black people were not going to like me more if I took their side.”
Another night I came upon the nurses station and conversation stopped quite abruptly. I suggested it was an interesting coincidence that I suddenly appeared and they all became engrossed in paper work. A nurse piped up and said,”Well, we all know what you’re like and I don’t want to get busted.” She then admitted she had made an anti-semitic remark about her dentist. I asked her if she had attended diversity class, she sighed, rolled her eyes and said she would go in order to avoid being forced to go. She went on to clarify that she “had no problem with Jews” but she did not like this dentist. I asked her the obvious question,” Why didn’t you just say you didn’t like him, and why go to a dentist you don’t like?” She told me I was “too hyper about race and that other stuff” and that I needed to relax. I decided to continue the conversation in private so that I could tell her that she was full of bullshit,and that she was trying to skirt being accountable for her own words.
You’re too sensitive. I did not mean it that way. You’re trying to stir things up. You’re trying to promote bad feelings between people. You aren’t from here. You’re taking up for “them.” You’re reading too much into it. You don’t understand. “They” use those words, why can’t I? It is the way I was raised. They. They. They. You. You. You.
One day, a friend who is also a manager went to a meeting. They discussed a leadership conference they were all going to attend and asked whether she should pay by check or cash. A white colleague at the meeting said,” Maybe we can pay in food stamps.” My friend, who is black looked at a mutual colleague who is also black and they stared at her open mouthed. The meeting was ending and nobody else seemed to notice. She met with our director who was puzzled not comprehending why my colleagues were offended. My friend called me. She was furious and wanted to take it further but was a newly hired manager and concerned about being perceived as a “trouble maker.” She asked my opinion and I thought that she should go up the chain of command and explain why she believed the comment was racist. She met with the VP of nursing and was met with defensiveness. She was told by the VP that she personally knew that individual and there was absolutely no possible way that X was a racist. My friend explained that she was not interested in making personal accusations just providing an “educational” moment about how such comments could be perceived. The VP praised my friend as young “bright and intelligent” leader who had “much to offer”. In other words: shut the fuck up and be glad we promoted you and quit insulting my friends. She received an informal apology but no hint of admission that the comment may have been racist just a “sorry I hurt your feelings” moment. I asked her if there was anything I could do to support her, she sighed and said listening was enough because I caught enough “shit on my own” when I spoke up.