OMG. This is one of the challenges I didn’t foresee when I became a manager. I’m not sure why I was so naive. Did I think everyone who worked for me would be super-cool folks who liked fluffy bunnies? Duh.

So, The N Word.

I was on a panel for a conference just last week talking about diversity in science, and how white women (me) need to actively work as allies for people of color. And that Silence is never an option when confronted with racism. It’s assumed that because I am white, and they are white, we all agree–unless I explicitly speak out and tell them they are full of it.

I just didn’t expect to have that scenario handed back to me a few days later in an employee review meeting, of all places.

This is happening when an issue of appropriation of another’s ideas is tearing up the feminist/women of color blogosphere. Feministe’s post rings so true:

“When any of us have a soapbox, an opportunity to get up and talk, we must continue to stand by those who aren’t called on. If you want to consider yourself an anti-racist or a white ally to people of color — if you want anyone else to consider you those things — then it behooves you to swim against the current. If everyone did, perhaps the tides would turn, even if it was just in our corner of the blogosphere….

When you find yourself in the inevitable currents of our society that always flow towards greater privilege, away from the marginalized, the oppressed, be prepared to swim against that tide. Don’t just stand there and let sand pool around your ankles.(emphasis mine)


Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Yikes. I like to think these events are receding into our sad old past, but we still have a ways to go.


  2. I never ceased to be amazed at the things people came out with in personnel reviews. All their petty grievances, jealousies and hatreds start bubbling to the surface and what begins as “why does X get this training and not me” turns into “that ******* ***** gets it all because they’re a *********”.

    Now, I was working in the media, which is full of egotistic, narcissistic sociopaths, but even so it was definitely too much at times. I’d come away from some reviews wanting to wash my mind, not just my hands and ears.

    Pigs are much, much nicer.

  3. I’m shocked (shocked!) at how prevalent racism and sexism are amongst the lawyers I know. Wait, wait, I’m saying that (mostly) white (mostly) male empowered folks are racist and sexist? Still, I agree with Dave — I made the dumbass assumption that racism wasn’t an issue for educated folks anymore. Guess it’s not just Bubba in his trailerpark.


Comments are closed.