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I recently shared a brief snippet about the “townhall” discussion about racism and BLM. In truth, it was more a like a struggle session. As I mentioned, all opinions were welcome as long as they were the correct opinions. I don’t need the hassle of HR harassing me about missing the “discussion” so I logged onto the zoom meeting (thankfully, it was all remote), shifted to a different browser window, lowered the volume, and proceeded to do actual work. At several points during the hour-long conversation, curiosity got the best of me and I listened in (a decision I now greatly regret). Here are a few of the highlights (again, remember this a sampling of snippets from when I was actually listening):
“Slavery is alive and well in America today – it has just changed forms. Now it’s the pipeline from the projects to the prison cell.”
“How can you say American isn’t racist when the Constitution says that black people only count for as 3/5 of a person”
“Of course there is systemic racism, but that doesn’t mean everyone isn’t racist” which was met with “NO!! Everyone is a racist!!”
“The 1619 project is a great resource to learn about racism” (helpfully offered by the SVP of HR)
“We can’t scream at people, we have to educate them” – the tone was so patronizing. The less enlightened need our help!
“Boo, shaking my head, I can’t believe you would say that” – to the one person who dared stray from the orthodoxy
There are two things that really frustrate me (well, more, but for now I will list two):
- I just want to go to work. I don’t have the time or energy to engage in this nonsense. But I can’t avoid it. The slack channels are full of it. It used to be you left religion and politics out of the workplace.
- The irony is that the whole premise is predicated on white power, that white males have power. In this case, I have no power at all. All the power is held by the CEO, the SVP of HR, and the rest of the C-suite, as they have the bully pulpit. I don’t want to lose my job, nor do I want to be a pariah at work, nor do I have the energy to argue. So I have to sit and listen to it. Now, don’t get me wrong; they all worked very hard to get where they are, and they deserve to have a bully pulpit – they have earned that right quite frankly. But it’s disingenuous to discuss “power structures” without acknowledging their own power in this conversation.