“How do you feel about the Confederate Flag?”
“What do you think of it” my white co-worker asked me full of inquisition.
I responded with a blank stare.
I laughed on the inside. The type of laugh that reeks of WTF.
“I think it’s obsolete” I replied. Hoping the conversation would end. But it didn’t.
She kept going.
“I have a friend and he’s really pro the Confederate flag and he’s losing A LOT of friends on his stance. He keeps posting about it on Facebook. I just want to get some resources and personal anecdotes so I can give a counter argument”
“I have a racist friend and you’re black. Can you tell me how I can make him less racist?”
I simply responded that I read Howard Zinn and perhaps that can be of use but I don’t have this problem so I don’t have any response. My feelings on the Confederate flag are pretty obvious.
There was a bit of silence and then she began fumbling and showing how uncomfortable the conversation became.
Sensing that she had nothing to say, I got up and walked away.
If you’re just as confused as I am, don’t fret because I didn’t leave the situation as is. After conferring with other POC, including my amazing aunt I decided to give her some feedback.
The next day I emailed her:
“Hi WHITE CO-WORKER,
I have some thoughts about our conversation yesterday. Let me know when you have a moment to talk.
We ended up chatting as she was on her way out for lunch. I started the conversation with the phrase “I just want to give you some feedback…”
I told her I was offended. That the question was triggering. That it was pointed and made me uncomfortable.
Of course she apologized PROFUSELY (almost too much)… then it happened...
She started to cry.
YES SHE DID.
Now… given the type of person that I am I have a HARD time watching people cry. I either give them a shoulder to cry on our tense up and feel INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE.
But what I did next surprised even myself. I walked away.
And sometimes you must.
In the face of anyone making you uncomfortable sometimes you must walk away and never look back. Redirect your compassion to yourself and keep moving.
Sure, my white co-worker isn’t a bad person. Misguided…but not bad.
I find that whenever I am experiencing moments like this that I have to understand that my safety and sanity come first.
In the face of micro aggressions or stupidity or lack of awareness be kind to yourself and be honest with the perpetrator.
Let your honesty sit with them and let it sting.
And let it be a lesson, to them, above all.
Have any tips on dealing with micro aggressions? Share them below!