As you’re sitting at your desk and overhearing your coworker tell stories of drunken stupor, racist jokes and sexist comments, empathy starts kicking in and you cannot suppress the desire to speak up. You bring up that something is racist or not appropriate to say and then your coworker makes a joke about the subject saying, “hey it’s okay, I hate everyone equally”. These improper and extremely inappropriate circumstances wouldn’t typically be considered the “norm” at any workplace, but from my perspective in working in the office setting, it is very common.
The easiest choice is to ignore it and pretend this didn’t happen, brush it off as nothing. I most definitely have done this countless times, I’ve even been a part of the rude whispers, but I can acknowledge this now. One day, I just had enough and stopped biting my tongue, I said how I felt about something and it was liberating. I’ve decided to stop passively participating in oppression of all kinds. Creating excuses that something morally wrong is okay to do is definitely a sign that something is inherently backwards in our thought process.
It’s this exact style of thinking that has let things such as racism exist for so long. Often, I wonder where have we gone wrong as a species, especially as white privileged males, and what can we do to change things for the greater good of our children and grandchildren?
One thing that I have started doing is bringing things up to the person who has been making the comments. Secondly, instead of combatively interjecting my opinion, I point out multiple perspectives as well as I can. If I continue to hear these things from that individual, I would bring it up to human resources. If we’re truly going to change the culture in the modern day workplace, we will need to take accountability, be responsible, considerate, and use empathy mindfully. Understanding, or better yet, simply being able to empathize with all the other perspectives there are in our human species, is pivotal in creating the paradigm shift.
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