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I sent this email today. For context, I had cut some biographies (for space concerns in a press release) of participants in a conference and my woke African colleague wanted to keep the full bios. So she evoked “protocol” and “cultural sensitivities,” which enraged me. So, two days later, for the first time in two and a half years, with our boss in copy, I retaliated! (I intend to start preparing a formal complaint for racism at some point: in the past, there have been a lot of “white people/girl” / westerners / Eurocentricity/ heteronormativity / etc., etc. comments; everyone knows white people are her big bugbear, although she’s married to one?!).
Dear Person Who’s On My Case all the Time because I am White and American,
This email has bothered me and I have decided to respond to it, formally and in writing.
You are directly implying that by eliminating the full bio of each speaker I was being “culturally insensitive.” This is the same category of charge you often level in my direction, and I find it extremely offensive. I have good reason to believe that this constant nettling on your part is due to 1. my skin color 2. my birth nationality and 3. what you think you know about my personal convictions and beliefs, all of which aspects of myself (immutable characteristics as well as personal choices) have come under fire from you repeatedly over the past two and a half years.
My first question to you is: had the bio in question been Jane Doe (USA), Professor and Director of the School of Blah at the American University of Washington DC, would eliminating it be deemed “culturally insensitive?” I think not.
My second question is: could your totally legitimate argument have been made adequately without the personal slight to me? And the answer is yes: “Regarding the title, one of the differences in this situation is protocol. Even if this is not the case, I would think what do we lose by using the titles they themselves gave us?”
I have never once in the past two and a half years that you have worked here ever willingly slighted you, or made any personal remark to your detriment, but welcomed you warmly and supported you. I responded to emails from you during the whole of my maternity leave, even to the point of responding on the hospital bed while waiting to give birth to my son.
Politics have no place in the workplace, and diversity of opinion is personally enriching. My freedom of conscience and my liberty to disagree with you on many points is enshrined in French as well as international law.
Person who just grew a spinePublished in