work: that trainer needs re-training
A while back, I said/decided/whatever that I wasn’t going to write about work. Mostly because… it’s work, but also that I am way too easy to find on the internet. However, if you recognize yourself as one of the people who did this and have a problem with it? Come at me.
It is a fairly well known cultural fact that when someone starts off a sentence with, “Now I’m not racist, but…” they’re about to say something that’s pretty racist. Maybe only mildly racist, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, probably not.
I was in an all-day training, and during one of our breaks, the trainer/presenter, who seemed a fairly nice guy seemed to feel that the atmosphere was light enough–or that we had Stockholm syndrome from being stuck in training all day–that he proceeded to say, “Ok, this is maybe going to sound racist…” at which point he then looked from face to face as if to reassure himself that no one of that particular race was in the room. Then he makes a statement about Asian women, assigning a stereotypical behavior to them that I hadn’t heard before.
At this point, I said, “Maybe let’s just back this conversation up.” but he was undeterred, continuing his anecdote. Then another trainee says, “I disagree with that, my wife is Asian.”2 and rather than just shut him down, the two proceeded to have a little “I’m the white guy that knows more about Asian women”-off.
Now yes, we were on a class break, but first off, we were still in the office making the entire conversation completely inappropriate1, and secondly there is no secondly–INAPPROPRIATE!
Thankfully, it was very near the end of the day/class session, but it became difficult engaging with someone when “Wow, you’re an asshole” was then playing a loop in my head.
But that was yesterday, and today is today, and hopefully we’re going to get snow… I like snow.
2 Because as we all know, being married to a person of another race makes you both an authority on that race and it means you can’t possibly be racist towards that race.
† Cover image from “Diet Racism” by College Humor
In response to #2, I’d say that it’s reasonable to think that said person would be in a better position to understand some nuances of his wife’s race that might not be apparent to someone, say, who’s never been in any sort of relationship with anyone outside of his/her race.
Have you ever been in one of these exchanges where the racist person says something about your group but thinks they’re in the clear when they say, “Well, obviously not *you*. I mean the other ones”? I usually reply, “No, I still don’t understand.” Lather, rinse, repeat until the person gets tired of talking, since, sadly, it seems that they very rarely realize where they’re going wrong.