can you say uncomfortable?

Awhile back I saw an episode of one of those weekly nighttime news shows where they were gauging the public's reaction to various situations. They showed instances of couples (actors) arguing and it getting physical. They showed actors who were falling-down drunk and trying to get behind the wheel. They varied things like race and gender to see if the public reacted differently.

After the program, you were left thinking that it was a shame that more people didn't step up for whatever reason. Maybe they didn't take an interest in the person/situation. Maybe they felt it wasn't safe to interfere. Maybe they thought it was none of their business. You also were left wondering how you would react in the same situation.

Another interesting scenario involved a cab driver (an actor again) who was blatantly racist. He talked negatively about just about every group of people. The passengers reacted in many different ways. Some ignored it, some joked, some agreed, some took a stand against it. I thought it was an especially difficult situation because the passengers lives were in the hands of the cabbie. I know I wouldn't want to send my cab driver into an angry fit.

Today was my first day at my new work site. I'll be here six days each month (six times as often as any other site). This is not a one-time-cabbie situation. One of the staff members offered to drive me to lunch. I picked a quaint, old, hole-in-the-wall with homemade pie that has been mentioned in Southern Living. I was expecting some pleasant home-cookin' and polite conversation. Instead, I found out that this employee is incredibly racist. I mean, to the point of using the N word. She did mention that she thinks some African Americans are ok people and that some Caucasians are "white trash." Sweet...thanks for that.

So, knowing that you will be forced to have a working relationship with this person, at a site you have been forewarned is difficult, what do you do? I'll tell you what I did later.

Comments

Bubba's Sis said…
Wow. Where are you, anyway? That would sure be uncomfortable. I'm not sure what I would do....
Anonymous said…
I've gotten pretty good at telling my students what I think when they are being rude, insensitive or racist but I am still uncomfortable with telling adults anything, I guess I feel like they should have learned better by now and why is it my place to tell them how to act. I guess I don't know what I'd do until I was in the situation.

Matt
angelq said…
I think the most passive thing to do is not respond to her comments - hard though it may be. I read somewhere once that the way to get a fellow employee to stop coming to you and bitching about their jobs, lives, etc. It to just not respond and, assuming they aren't totally self-absorbed (heehee, sponges) and you aren't the only person who doesn't shut them down, they will eventually just stop coming by. Because, here you go psychology major, you aren't giving them positive reinforcement for telling you these things. Or try to change the subject. Act like you are ADD and keep changing it until something docile comes up.
Bubba said…
I'm a Bubba, so I guess I'm always the racist employee.

I just ignore people when they say things like that. Or you could have fun and tell her your brother is a Native African Hispanic American that is currently living in China.
Samantha Jo Campen said…
Yeah, go with what Bubba said. I always like saying outrageous things to make THEM feel umcomfortable.

But yeah, because it's a work thing that's a sticky situation.
StaceyG said…
Yeah, maybe ignoring the comments and responding when she says something else would help shape her behavior around you. That's tough!

Love,
BF Skinner
cjh said…
I knew Skinner loved me. It's nice to have the validation, though.
StaceyG said…
My candy heart was "get real" too. No surprise there. =)
cjh said…
After I got over my shock, I tried to steer the conversation anywhere but there. She took it back there a few times. The N word only came out once (which is more than enough but I was thankful it wasn't more). And that was the only conversation that went that route. Again, thankfully.

I just feel like a putz for not saying anything about it directly. I guess it felt like if I wasn't doing something to stop the problem, I was contributing to it. Then again, she's in her 50s so probably isn't changing anytime soon. It also made me feel bad to think that someone would look at me and think I'd be ok with conversation like that. What about me says that? Is it just because I'm white?

And it was northern Louisiana.
katielady said…
Wow, don't know what I'd have done in the same situation. Maybe what Bubba said....

I'm sorry you are put in that situation, that's poopy. But you're right, you won't be able to change it.

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