I need some guidance. These past few weeks have left my heart heavy and sad. Seeing how our black community is being treated in this country breaks my heart. As a white privileged woman, I have never had to experience anything like this.
I work for an older white female who claims to be a voice for diversity in my city. It sounds great when she says it but then reality set in. You see, I run her social media accounts and when I asked if she would like to take a stance on the issues at hand online, her response stopped me dead in my tracks. “No, let’s focus on National Donut Day, but if you can get a photo-op with a black store owner please post it to my social media so it looks good.”
My boss preaches diversity and inclusivity at events, yet now at the most critical time, she is not taking a stance. And now there is a thread of emails I’ve seen showing she is not just quiet but a quiet racist. Other coworkers have chimed in and I have realized, “wow you are all racists!” My heart tells me I have to leave this organization because that is not who I am or what I stand for but Covid has made the job market difficult and I have bills to pay. I feel like the ultimate hypocrite for staying but I just don’t know what to do.
Help me BEE!!!
Not So Black and White
Dear Not So Black and White,
You cannot unsee what you have seen. You cannot unhear what you have already heard.
At the very beginning of quarantine and Covid-19 I told dear girlfriends of mine that this bizarre shift in our time and space would be a game-changer. I have never wanted to be wrong more and unfortunately, I have never been more right. Relationships have shifted, friendships have changed, marriages too. This pandemic is a doozy.
And then came George Floyd’s muffled gasps for air, in between begging and pleading for his life.
We are forever changed. A line has been drawn. We are each holding our own compass as we desperately try to find our true north. I too am a white privileged woman. I too am struggling to find my true north.
There is a desperation and an urgency to fix what is broken, but Rome was not built in a day. There is no blueprint for constructing this new world. And, you have bills to pay in challenging times. While I’m far from an optimist (I’m too much of a worrier to be one) I do believe in searching for the silver lining in every situation. Here’s yours. You can be part of this movement towards change. Maybe it even starts with your boss. Who knows, perhaps your role is to embody that very spark that ignites her flame. What an honor to be that spark. By all means inch out of the door, put your feelers out, network the fuck out of finding a new place to work where you feel proud and comfortable to call your workplace an extention of you and your core values. But the reality is, that’s a bonus, not necessarily a given. Your rent? That one’s a must.
That said, you don’t have to be a silent bystander. It’s ok to gently and respectfully speak your truth. You can be the mirror that is held up to others without being preachy or aggressive. How incredibly fortuitous for you that your role includes running your boss’s social media accounts. You are standing in the perfect spot to shine a light where she is hiding in the dark. Even better, it can all be wrapped up in a pretty package of “it’s my job to try and protect you, and part of protecting you is educating you. Are you open to that?” She might surprise you. She might even spark a change too. And maybe that spark is just as contagious as systemic racism.
You, “Not So Black and White” are the needle on her compass.
Perhaps I am more of an optimist than I thought. Guess what? I think I see a glimmer of that silver lining. It’s shimmering, it’s right there on the horizon, its metallic threads tug at our heartstrings. Do you see it?
Head north sweetpea, in doing so you’ll plant a seed for change while keeping your integrity as you edge towards the door. You might even find you leave it a better place than you found it.
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