Has Mixed Feelings About HR

, , , , , , , | Working | January 22, 2018

(I am of mixed race — my mom is black and my dad is white — but I have predominantly Caucasian features. I get called into HR after a verbal fight I had with another mixed coworker. She is accusing me of being racist towards her. I have a generic first and last name, so unless I choose to disclose my parentage, I can easily pass for white.)

Human Resources: “Hello, [My Name]. Thanks for coming. This is a safe space to share our feelings in, so no one feels attacked here.”

(My coworker sniffles and glares at me as I sit down.)

Me: “Okay.”

Human Resources: “So, let’s discuss what happened on Thursday, and how we can move forward. [Coworker] feels like you’re singling her out for being mixed and are purposely giving her easy work and putting her down in front of the boss due to her race.”

Me: “Now—”

Coworker: “I just feel so unsafe at work.”

Human Resources: “Don’t worry, [Coworker]; we are here to change that.”

Me: “Can I say something?”

Coworker: “You’ve said enough. It’s clear how you feel about black people.”

Human Resources: “Now, now, let’s stay calm. It’s a safe space. Now, [My Name], since is the first altercation, you won’t be fired.” *Yes, this is literally how she started the conversation* “But—”

Me: “Uh, excuse me? Aren’t you going to ask my side of the story?”

Human Resources: “Uh, well, sure, but—”

Me: “I hope you aren’t just taking her side because she’s more black than I am.”

Coworker: “YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD IT IS BEING MIXED!”

Me: “NEWSFLASH! I’m mixed, too!”

Coworker: “What?”

Me: “I look white, but my mom is black. So, let’s go back you accusing me of being racist towards you for being mixed. Now that it’s clear I’m mixed, too, please explain to me how I’ve been demeaning to you because of your lineage. I’m sure my parents want to know where they went wrong with me.”

Coworker: *rushed* “Maybe I overreacted.”

Human Resources: “Okay, due to this turn of events, maybe we can settle it.”

Me: “Yeah, thanks to you finding out I’m mixed, all of a sudden I’m not the bad guy, huh? What if I hadn’t been mixed? You weren’t even going to hear my side of the story! You would’ve just taken her at her word, and I might’ve been out of that supervisor promotion I applied for. You could’ve ruined my future at this company all because I ‘look white.’”

(I stormed out of the office and found the nearest office with the words supervisor on it. I was led to the supervisor of the HR rep, and he listened to me rant for at least an hour before, calmly, helping me find a solution. Neither the HR rep or my coworker were fired, but the HR rep was unofficially demoted and my coworker was moved to a different floor. I haven’t had any trouble since, and although I got passed over for supervisor, my current boss practically told me I have her position when she goes on maternity leave. After this altercation, my mom half-jokingly told me to leave a picture of all of us on my desk in case of future misunderstandings of my race.)

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