Vent: Feeling low after bigotry episode

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percycat
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 1952
   Posted 7/10/2008 1:23 PM (GMT -7)   
All,
 
I'm feeling very low and ashamed after being involved in an instance of bigotry today at my workplace.  We have a new colleague, I'll call him "Mark," and I was introducing him to some friends of mine in another department.  In the process of making nice chit-chat, "Mark" suddenly asked whether a local businessman was a member of a particular minority, indicating why he thought so by making an immature and rude slur about his impression when meeting the businessman earlier.  It turns out that one of my friends being introduced is in fact a member of that minority, and we were all (silently) flabbergasted.
 
"Mark" doesn't know this and surely wouldn't have made the slur otherwise.  I think he simply did it because the peer group he used to be among found such things witty; it's the kind of comment that could easily occur on a TV sitcom.  However, I feel ashamed and even guilty for subjecting my friend to this comment.  I know I couldn't control it - that's anxiety kicking in, saying I could have or should have - but I do feel very bad for having introduced my friend to someone who almost immediately insulted her for no reason.
 
I did not say anything to "Mark" afterwards about this appalling lack of tact (I barely know him, and my friend's personal life is none of his business, even to correct such a slip) but I did phone my friend and apologize for his comments.  For what it's worth, "Mark" is from a very unsophisticated background and is about 15 years younger than the rest of us (probably, only in his late 20s is my guess).
 
My friend happens to teach a course on this minority group on occasion at the local university, so she took the whole episode as a reminder of the need for educating others further.  I hope she'll suggest to me some good ideas for dealing with such situations - later.  She shouldn't have had to turn a direct insult against her group into a "teachable moment," in my opinion, and I don't want her to have to, even with me.  For now, can anyone suggest anything I could have done differently, other than continuing to beat myself up for creating the meeting that led to the hurtful comment?
 
Thanks for letting me vent at such length about something that's making me feel very anxious and sad.
 
percycat

nervymeg
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 7/10/2008 5:11 PM (GMT -7)   

Percy (sweetie) I'm sorry this happened to you but please don't feel any guilt. You are certainly not responsible for what other people do or say. I know what you mean that you can feel "responsible by association" when someone you are with acts in a discriminatory manner. It can feel like it's your fault, but it REALLY isn't!

When this happens to me I challenge the person, always, even if they are my guest or I don't know them well. I say "that is offensive to me" and leave it at that. I say it very politely and do not try to shame the person for their beliefs, I just let them know I do not agree and find it offensive. Usually they apologise and we can discuss it. Often people are socialised into believing things discrimanatory without even knowing it.

I hope your friend can give you some tips around this too. Now now guilt ya hear?! We cannot change people, we can only educate them and let them make choices.

Meg


Co-moderator Anxiety/Panic
Panic Attack Survivor
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stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 7/10/2008 6:55 PM (GMT -7)   

Hey Percy,

I am so sorry you had this incident today. eyes When this new employee made this comment, a lot of people are going to think, 'How dare he say what he did ?"

You were kind to let your friend know how sad you felt about the bigot but do not blame yourself as you did not make the comment.

You may want to be assertive and tell Mark that he may benefit from a class in Diversity Training as there are many online classes or perhaps your company has a class offering.  Now days this is often an automatic part of orientation to a new company. Your right, he may not have the maturity yet but he needs to learn it now if he is to succeed in the world today.

You are a wonderful friend and I think you will handle this to the best of your ability.

Bless you

Kitt

 


 

Kitt, Moderator: Anxiety, Panic & Depression 
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~


Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 7/11/2008 11:18 AM (GMT -7)   
percycat
I am so sorry you were subjected to that crap and I do hope that you know YOU have done nothing wrong
It was the greatest to call your friend and let her know there are way too many ppl out there that still are like this

UNFORTUNATELY

Chin up sweetie.........WE cannot fix everyone in a day.......ppl wil change surely
I pray for this all the time
I hear so many off the cuff stabs about Natives and it hurts me to no end but I let it go
I know I am not who or what they are saying

I may suggesst you let him know in a quiet time amongst the 2 of you THAT you are NOT like this and would appreciate he keeps his comments to self in the future
( I know I would do this but that is my way of coping with ppl like him)
Only if you feel you can do this hun

I am thinking about you

Luvs
LYN


  DX With Crohns,Pyoderma Gangrenosum,Anxiety/Panic,Fibro & Other DD
                                    Donate at  www.healingwell.com
 
Moderator @ Alzheimer's,Co Mod @ Anxiety/ Panic,Co Mod @ Crohns 
 
                                    FIGHT the FIGHT with all YOU HAVE
               Look For The GOOD,Even At Your Lowest
 
     Listen To Your Heart,Look Inside Yourself,Understand You
 
 
 
                    

Post Edited (Howlyncat) : 7/12/2008 2:37:09 PM (GMT-6)


LifeChange
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 7/11/2008 3:24 PM (GMT -7)   
I think the first thing you need to do is realize that this is not some problem exclusive to that 'minority group' but rather a problem with this individual named Mark. And that you will always encounter an awkward social situation in life, that's just reality. Mark is the type of person who makes awkward comments, it seems like. No one in their right mind would walk into a professional environment and insult another person behind their back, much less during an introduction.

If this 'minority group' didn't exist, Mark would be any less prone to making awkward or offensive comments? Teaching courses on this 'minority group' is merely treating the symptom, and not the cause. And she is no authority on dealing with such situations simply because she teaches a course on this 'minority group.' These are social situations, not 'special circumstances exclusive to this minority group' situations. As humans, we have the authority to deal with it how we please. It's not a science.

Socializing is a big problem for me because of this very same reason. I feel totally awkward when personality types like Mark come around or when other awkward things happen during conversation. But I realize this is a problem with me, not with Mark. I know that this is life and different personality types conflict sometimes. And that's okay. No need to teach a course on it. That's not going to fix anything. Unless the 'minority group' is selfish enough to think that as long as THEY aren't offended, then everything is fine, which just about every activist 'minority group' is guilty of.

Post Edited (LifeChange) : 7/11/2008 4:29:04 PM (GMT-6)


jujub
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 10392
   Posted 7/11/2008 3:57 PM (GMT -7)   
You have no fault in this. However, you could do Mark a favor by explaining that such comments in the workplace are inappropriate. In fact, in many companies they are grounds for dismissal. It falls under workplace harrassment, and is called "creating a hostile work environment." He needs to know this, because the next person he offends may report him to Human Resources, and that becomes a real problem for him.
Most companies will not tolerate this sort of thing because if they don't act quickly and decisively, they could be sued for harrassment. So your response was absolutely appropriate. And it's perfectly okay to educate Mark about this privately.

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 7/11/2008 4:17 PM (GMT -7)   

I agree 100% with Judilyn. This  Mark needs to be made aware that his comment was inappropriate.  You cannot change his opinions but you can explain to  him what his behavioral expectations are in the work environment.

Lyn has experienced the bigotry of a person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own. I think her opinion is appreciated by all.

Kitt


 

Kitt, Moderator: Anxiety, Panic & Depression 
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~


Anxious soul
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 69
   Posted 7/11/2008 5:38 PM (GMT -7)   
LifeChange,
You absolutely nailed this one on the head. I applaud you with a standing ovation!!!!! People like that attempt to make themselves superior at the expense of others and in the end lower themselves in the credit of mankind.

-Soul

Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 7/12/2008 6:42 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Lil sis
Yes I have
I am a Native Canadian.....
My mother was full blood Native from the Oshweken Reserve .........

I remember when I was young I was so ashamed of my heritage I would try to deny it ( couldnt as I definitely look Native lol)

All people thought back then and sad to say some still do to this day is that natives are drunkards and on the welfare system all the time instead of working and being productive
OH how lucky we are we dont have to pay taxes .......

I am no longer ashamed and I am filled with PRIDE at what my people have acheived

Thanks again Lil sis
I truly think this Mark has got to be told as I did say in my first post .......
.LOVES ......Big sis .......
LYN.
  DX With Crohns,Pyoderma Gangrenosum,Anxiety/Panic,Fibro & Other DD
                                    Donate at  www.healingwell.com
 
Moderator @ Alzheimer's,Co Mod @ Anxiety/ Panic,Co Mod @ Crohns 
 
                                    FIGHT the FIGHT with all YOU HAVE
               Look For The GOOD,Even At Your Lowest
 
     Listen To Your Heart,Look Inside Yourself,Understand You
 
 
 
                    


stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 7/12/2008 9:44 AM (GMT -7)   

Big Sis,

My Grandpa was a drunk and we lived on the "island" without indoor plumbing and every spring had to go stay with relatives on the mainland when the floods came.  My Grnapa picked up his welfare check and went straight to bar to cash it and go on his "toot", be gone for days until one of his sons ( my Dad usually) had to hunt him down and bring him home.  We lived with my Grandpa and Grandma as my birth Mother died when I was 18 months onld.

I guess I did not know enough to be  embarassed as I had my Dad and he was an Angel .  Everyone that lived on the island was on welfare but my Dad worked everyday and help take care of my Grandpa and Grandma and me of course.

My grandpa died of alcoholism...................how sad.

I am an advocate for many causes but  I will be assertive and speak up, privately when someone is out of line.

So Percycat.................you did fine and big hugs to all.

Great input by all.

Kitt


 

Kitt, Moderator: Anxiety, Panic & Depression 
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~


hibiscus
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 7/12/2008 10:41 AM (GMT -7)   
I just read a book by Dr. Forni called The Civility Solution , that deals with just such tricky situations, and how to deal with them positively, as well as other intentional and unintentional rudeness. I highly recommend it, it's philosphical, as well as practical. 

Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 7/12/2008 1:39 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Hibiscus

I will be looking for that book myself

Appreciate you becoming part of the family here and lending support

LYN
  DX With Crohns,Pyoderma Gangrenosum,Anxiety/Panic,Fibro & Other DD
                                    Donate at  www.healingwell.com
 
Moderator @ Alzheimer's,Co Mod @ Anxiety/ Panic,Co Mod @ Crohns 
 
                                    FIGHT the FIGHT with all YOU HAVE
               Look For The GOOD,Even At Your Lowest
 
     Listen To Your Heart,Look Inside Yourself,Understand You
 
 
 
                    

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