Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’m not a racist, but I’ve been accused of it at work by several black women. I’m white and have many friends of other races.
These women call each other “sister.” They all bully me.
One of them is my friend, and our children play together.
We’re in a very busy environment at the airport. These ladies accuse me of placing more work on them, but I take on the extra work, just to keep the peace. I can’t accuse my team of anything, even if it’s true.
My friend recently said under her breath, “She doesn’t think she’s a racist,” referring to me. I’m so hurt. I’ve never been a racist.
What can I do?
Not a Racist
Don’t label your situation as a racism problem, but a relationship problem. The “whys” don’t matter as much as the resolve to change it.
Being misunderstood can mean being misjudged. You can muster your courage and ask for a direct meeting with each individual person. That’s less threatening and less opportunity for them to gang up and bully you.
Discuss and share your feelings regarding your work ethic, your work load, your empathy for their work load and fair work distribution. Ask for specific solutions, after having them identify specific problematic situations.
Pass out the definition of racism from a standard dictionary: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism, directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
There are no restrictions on which races can be the instigators and what magnitude of disdain counts as “superiority.”
Tips for solutions:
- Do not imply that any person you’re speaking with is offending you.
- Avoid victimhood. Always choose not to stay a victim.
- Be an example of compassion and don’t share your heartache.
- Express your standing on racism in a pragmatic way. The company doesn’t tolerate it and neither do you.
Express your desire to have civility using our definition: be caring, be considerate, and have courtesy for each other. Ask for their cooperation and have them sign a document stating their compliance.
Prejudice exists, unfortunately, everywhere, but we believe we can treat everyone we encounter as the sister or brother that they are. We believe in a loving God who created all of us.
Ask to speak privately with your “friend” outside of work and say you want to help the next generation to be civil and inclusive. Tell her you can’t go forward with creating friendships between your kids if she harbors bad feelings for you or your race.
Race is what we’re born with, love is what we choose.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri