Wednesday, July 21, 2010

So my racist and xenophobic coworker comes into my office

...and apologizes profusely. She proclaims she did not intend to send me the email (below). It was suppose to go to her brother who likes to fact-check "statistics like that." She continues to describe how she was up all night agonizing about what had happened, and that she was waiting for me all morning to come into her office to confront her. Before I could even tell her I'm fine, that I realized it was a mistake and that my name was probably fresh in her Outlook due to a correspondence we had earlier that day, she backpeddles and says unconvincingly, I hope you don't think I believe in "things like that."

I don't know which is worse. To believe in "things like that" or to deny you believe in "things like that" when you really do. Obviously if you are denying those beliefs, then you must know they are wrong. Right?

She should have left it alone. I already decided not to report her violation of our company email policy to Human Resources or to the executive director, a progressive African American man. I can see anyone making this same mistake. Also, I simply believe everyone has a right to their opinions, even if they are hateful and ignorant, and hope that others would respect my perhaps divergent opinions and freedom to express them (even though there's no such thing in the workplace). But her explanations were dubious because: First, if she meant to send it to her brother (who remains nameless), why was the email addressed to me in the BCC line? That actually led me to believe I was part of a larger distribution list of neo-nazi right-wingers, and maybe they are being cultivated and harvested at my job? Second, the title of her subject line did not have a "FW:" in front of it. Third, her signature block was right under the end of the message.

Oso Grande said that I should have considered reporting her, that we should stop hate mongers like her... or make this opportunity a teachable moment. I did not want to do either, and was accused of being a weak liberal. I wish I did not know at all. To know that this coworker deeply despises the people I serve and the work I do everyday, it's really unsettling. But I guess if the two of us with such divergent beliefs can coexist without any problems, I expect others to do the same. That's what America should be. In fact, maybe I'm not a weak liberal, but rather, a strong American? Take that, Oso.

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