I've been faced with many of these situations and I'm amazed that I'm the only one that does the right thing. When I've found co-workers who have been cheating the company and making extra pocket change, or co-workers who are committing cyberspace stalking, or employees who are harassing a co-worker for being a lesbian, or speaking racial slurs when only white faces are present, or telling ethnic jokes when there is no one around to speak for themselves...I've been the only one to confront these people. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that "Silence constitutes consent." I don't consent so I must stand for the people who are not present to stand for themselves. It simply the right thing to do. At first it is uncomfortable, but with practice it becomes second nature.
The first time I did this was when I was giving blood at the blood center. I had been coming there for over three years and the nurses all knew me. It was around six PM and the donors were all watching the news on the television to pass the time. A news story came on about a black person and a fellow blood donor stated feeling comfortable in room filled with white faces, "Whenever I see a story like that, I just say, well he can just go back to Africa." I was furious. First of all, African-AMERICANS just can't GO BACK to Africa. Secondly, they didn't COME HERE on their OWN in the first place. My blood was boiling and I'm sure I the blood bag filled up in record time. After about one minute of deliberation I said, "I have to tell you that I'm offended by that remark. Just because I have the same white skin as you do, doesn't mean that I think the same as you. That is just such an ignorant statement that I find it hard to believe that you are even sitting here donating your blood, what if your blood is going to be used to save another person who just happens to be African-American? Do you know that the man who invented this whole process, Charles Drew, was African-American?"
I had been a cultural diversity trainer, mother of children of color for over fourteen years and it was still hard to get the courage up to speak up. But I did. And afterward I felt great. I was trying to stop the cycle. If ignorant people wanted to be ignorant, I wanted them to feel the same discomfort we, who are not ignorant, feel as a result of their bold ignorance. He shut up. Period. He was at a total loss of words. After he left the nurse came over to me and said, "BJ, I'm soooo glad you said that as he says stuff like that when he donates, and we can't say anything. We don't want to lose one single donor." I understood they needed his blood but not his mouth, and I was glad to be their voice that day. If only the other donors would have spoken up too, we'd put two s's on principles(s) like the two s's in the spelling of the word dessert. Just like dessert, we always want more [people to speak up.]
Some say America is a Melting Pot, I say we are a Tossed Salad, there is no reason to mold into something different, we need to embrace our differences. ~BJ Winchester