Being a minority in the workplace is tough as it is. Having to deal with the invisible double standard or feeling like you have to work twice as hard to get the same recognition sucks. What’s worse is having to listen to sly comments that can come off as a little racist.
For a little backstory of myself, I work in a field that is dominated by caucasians. I have always been the minority. Take my last 3 places of employment for example, I was the only African American in the entire companies. In my current job there’s a lot more people who look like me which is reassuring by that doesn’t change the fact that there are people with ugly mindsets.
Just the other day I encountered a situation that left me really uncomfortable and looking at a coworker differently. It was a few of us working (2 Caucasian girls and myself) and we were talking about where we lived. All of us live in nice places and one girl went on about a time she lived in Atlanta in the “ghetto”. Ok cool. It is what it is.
She then continued on discussing how she was the only white person and was definitely the minority and extremely uncomfortable. She tried to save herself by saying that everyone was nice and it was a nice place etc but it only made it worse.
I was headed out of the door but I asked her what made it ghetto? Was it in a bad part of town, Section 8 housing or something? She replied with a laugh, “No it was in a good part of town, it was just a lot of black people. I mean they were nice and I had no issues with them but I had to get out of there. I can’t be around that many all the time.” Blank stare.
I had a bunch of follow up questions and comments and eventually had to leave the room before I showed a different side of me.
What made me so uncomfortable was the fact that she felt that it was ok to be saying this and making these judgments out loud to me. Does she not know that I’m African American? Why doesn’t she think that was inappropriate to say? And what she says behind my back? That’s what makes me cringe most.
Needless to say I now look at her in a different light. Although I feel like I voiced my concerns and my views on the situation to her she felt like nothing was wrong with her comment. Unreal!