Advice for three people trying to navigate racial politics at work, and one person dealing with the emotional baggage from a previous job.
Credit…Margeaux Walter for The New York Times
By Roxane Gay
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Pick your battles (even if they’re with liars)
My white, middle-aged co-worker is a scammer. I’ve talked to the people in charge but because they aren’t here day to day, they only know what I tell them. I’m a 24-year-old Black lady. You can best believe there’s a racial dynamic to why I’m not being heard. She’s been late, refused to come in and almost quit because she felt she “needed to.” She’s such a bad employee I received a raise. She has knowingly been around people with Covid-19. I know she has lied because her timeline is off.
She can’t keep up with her lies. Our supervisor asked that she be tested for coronavirus and let her off when she said her symptoms didn’t qualify to be tested. If the roles were reversed, I would have been fired a long time ago. What’s the best way to navigate racial politics in the workplace?
Sometimes co-workers do the very least and the very most simultaneously. Yes, racial dynamics are at play here. What white people can get away with is vastly different from what everyone else can get away with. I understand and share your resentment. There’s not much you can do about most of her behaviors. She’s a bad co-worker. It’s common. She’ll scam her way out of a job, sooner or later. In the meantime, ignore her nonsense and focus on your work. Document anything that affects your job performance or well-being. And fire up the group text to vent about the unfairness of it all and get emotional support.
Navigating racial politics at work is complicated and maddening. A lot of it is picking your battles so as to preserve your sanity. If you fight every single battle, you will run yourself into the ground. How does it help you to get riled up if she comes to work late? It doesn’t! It’s unfair but ignore it! On the other hand, if she is exposing herself to Covid-19, she is putting you and your co-workers in danger. That is a battle worth fighting.
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