If you’re like me, then you most likely work in a diverse environment, made up of people from different socio-economic, racial, ethnic, religious backgrounds. Thus, you most likely have run into a problem in which you find a comment or action conducted by a co-worker to be offensive.
I’ve recently had my fair share of ig’nant statements made by my co-workers as well as my boss regarding people who live in low-income housing, members of the GLBTQ community as well as people of color (note: my co-workers stay away from openly criticizing black folks and often target Hispanics and Latinos; but as we all know, who’s to say they aren’t talking shit about people like me when I’m not there?).
For example, on issues of race and class, I’ve had to bite my tongue so many times just so I can keep the peace and not start a conversation that most likely will end up with my white co-workers, by way of whiteness, turning the discussion into one in which they take as me calling them racist or a middle-class snob. As we all know, these conversations typically end with our white co-workers vehemently denying they believe in any forms of -isms by either getting unnecessarily emotional and finding a couple of token POCs to confirm their beliefs.
So, here’s my question: how do you confront or inform a co-worker of their bigoted comments? Specifically, how do you do so without coming off as the hypersensitive, angry black woman who makes everything about race? How do you confront folks who aren’t even aware of their hateful comments without coming off as the annoying social justice crusader those political correctness bashers love to hate?