The Airing of Grievances
Thursday, December 23, 2004
I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Jackie Edition
Without further ado, let the Airing of Grievances begin. What's pissing me off this year? Well actually, something that's been bothering me for quite some time. Minority folks who reflexively cry racism whenever something doesn't break their way. Can't fucking stand 'em.
An little story from a few months back. So, I'm sitting at my desk, diligently working away, when the phone rings. Wow, it's Kalani. Wonder what she wants. "Hello this is Jackie." "Hey Jackie, it's Kalani. I was hoping you had some time to talk about work." (Going through my head. Why on earth is this girl calling me to "talk about work." We've worked in the same building for two and half years and have not said anything more than hello and goodbye each other. And now she's fixing to engage in a deep conversation about work? She has nobody else to have this conversation with? Should be fun.)
"Sure Kalani, what's up?" "Well, I was just wondering how you found the environment here for black attorneys?" "Oh, it seems fine. Haven't have had any problems. Haven't encountered anything that's surprised me in the slightest. Seems to me, so long as you hold it down, you're pretty much gonna be ok. Why?" "Well maybe things have been different for you. Some stuff has happened to me that really has me questioning whether I can effectively work in this environment." "Such as?" "Well, I got an assignment a few months ago and I could tell right away the partner had a problem with me?" "How?" "At our first meeting, I told him my name was pronounced Ka-la-nee, but he kept on saying it wrong. Is it too much to ask that he get my name right?" (Thinking. Oh yeah, clearly, that reeks of prejudice. I'm sure he always gets the bitch with the blonde hair's name right. (hat tip: BV) C'mon now, the fact that he's having trouble pronouncing an African name that he's very likely never heard before is completely unaccepatable. Get Jesse on the horn. Now.)
"Did you try and correct him?" "I did, once. He just kept saying it wrong. I knew things were not going to work out well." "So, what happened?" "Well, you see I drafted this eight-page memo and when he called me up to review it he gave me all types of shit because it had like 4 typos." (Hmmm, she says "like 4 typos" so it was probably more, and the memo was only eight pages so that's pretty bad, and surely there were more issues with the thing since that's the nature of the beast.) "Is that the first work-product you'd ever given him?" "Yes, but he really made such a big deal out of it." "And you think that was because you're black?" (At this point, the incredulity in my voice is beginning to kick in and I'm also getting a little annoyed at this joker for wasting my time.)
"Oh definitely, you don't? There's no way he would have made such a big a deal out of it if with a white associate." "Quite frankly Kalani, I completely disagree. Not to be an ass, but if you're working for someone who's not familiar with your work, and the first work product you give them has 4 typos in eight pages, it's very likely going to be an issue." "Oh come on, 4 typos is not that big of a deal. The thing is not even going out the door and he makes such a big deal out of it? You don't think that had anything to do with me being black?"
Well, at about that point, I realized I'd have better luck explaining quantum physics to the soda can I just emptied (hat tip: BobbyP) so, after a few more minutes of Charlie Brown-in-class mode, I ended the conversation. And I'm sure Kalani, who left the firm shortly thereafter, was convinced that I was simply not "down for the cause." The "cause" apparently being that all of your personal failings should be attribtued to the prejudices of the outside world. The "cause" apparently being that you yourself are never to blame. The "cause" apparently being that please, oh please, pity me because I am black. And quite frankely, she's right, I'm sure as shit not down for that cause. Whatever.
Now, truth be told, there is certainly a whole lot of very real racially based nonsense that takes place in Corporate America. That being said, when folks like Kalani go around with their reflexive and baseless cries of racism it simply takes away from those instances where the role of race deserves some serious consideration.
So, in sum, my grievance is with those who reflexively claim racism -- a whole host of little boys and girls who persistently cry wolf -- who only serve to detract from real problems facing minority people today. In fact, as Kalani kept pushing the issue, and as she kept hinting more and more that somehow I was not "down for the cause", I was really tempted to hit her up with this: "Hey listen Kalani, I've heard what you've had to say. And I'll be honest with you. If you're looking for some sympathy, you can look it up in the dictionary. You'll find it somewhere between shit and syphillis."