Friday, August 04, 2006

Racially un-motivated, part two

It’s Wednesday night and we’re leaning against a rail at Wrigley field watching storms punish Chicago from the south and west.

“Did you read it today? It was about racism,” I ask.
“Not yet. Did ya tell ‘em your two ‘Jew’ stories?” Jim replied.

Oh, man. How could I have forgotten?
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We’re in that same large conference room.

It’s three of us reviewing a new brochure about employee benefits.

“It’s going to be about $400 to print these,” said Susan, the best graphic designer on the planet, who also happens to be Jewish.

“Can you Jew ‘em down on that price a bit?” asked the most ignorant director of human resources on the planet.

Yes. It really happened. I was there.
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That idiotic director of HR claimed she had no clue she’d said something wrong.

Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to bigotry.
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As if that first story wasn’t bad enough, here’s another one. Same topic, same company.

“He’s gotta work Christmas eve, I can’t believe it,” complained our director of recruiting, whose husband worked for a big law firm in Chicago.
“Bummer,” I replied.
“It’s those damn Jews,” she said. “Making people work on Christmas eve. What are they thinking?”

I don’t know what they were thinking, but I’m pretty sure I knew what Susan was thinking, sitting in the next cube over.
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So how did my good friend Susan react?

She was cool. Both times.

Maybe it was because she was used to hearing that kind of hateful language.

But I really, really hope not.
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And how did you react, Heather?

I apologized profusely on behalf of ignorant people everywhere and told my manager who apparently spoke with both of them about it.

I’m sure they were embarrassed. But I’m guessing they were mostly irritated at having to watch what they say in the future.
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It’s not easy talking about prejudice when you’re white.

And I don’t have a good explanation for why that conference room was so divided over the OJ verdict.

How could people who had so much in common – intelligent, motivated young professionals in the high tech industry – see the same evidence so differently?

The fact is, we see what we want to see. Whatever reinforces our core beliefs.
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So let me get this straight: Both the director of human resources and the director of recruiting at the same company made anti-Semitic comments?

Yep. The people who should’ve been leading the charge when it came to creating a culturally diverse bigotry-free work environment were complete idiots. And they weren’t fired either.
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Ah, maybe that’s what they meant in that RA interview so long ago.

As a leader, I was responsible for creating a welcoming environment on my floor.

And maybe they were just making sure that I really understood that responsibility, as a young and potentially ignorant white person who’d never personally experienced prejudice her whole life.
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Finally, there’s this, compliments of a friend and loyal reader who enjoys poking fun at me:

I am listening to: Myself hum (insert any obscure band and song here)
I am reading: All the cool shit I just wrote
And I am: Feeling like I need to take a big stinky dump

1 comments:

the dilf said...

Seriously....you dont have a good explanation why that conference room was so divided over the OJ verdict?????.....Cmon Hedy...I think it's pretty Black and White!