Trevor’s a nice guy. Trevor is nice to everyone. Trevor is also oblivious. Consequently, Trevor is working my last nerve. He’s the all-American Caucasoid whose experience with Black people extends as far as his TV channels will let him. It seems my coworker lacks a certain degree of cultural sensitivity.
While on my lunch break with a few people, a coworker of mine started talking about tattoos. I mentioned that I had a few (clearly I wasn’t thinking). Trevor looks at me and says “Oh, you used to be a thug huh?”. I looked at him and said “No Trevor… I didn’t used to be a thug. You wouldn’t have a job a thug could have would you?”. In the awkward silence Milton, the other Black guy at the table, changed the subject to his Precious vs. For Colored Girls debate. Good ol’ Milton.
The coworkers and I were walking around the cafeteria looking for a place to sit. Trevor jokingly suggested that we bully someone or man-handle someone out of their seat. Then he patted me on the shoulder and said, “Kai could handle that”. Word? I could maybe understand if I were the biggest person in the group, but I wasn’t. And I certainly never discussed fighting skills with my coworkers. What qualifies me to be fighting random people in the food court? Oh… melanocytes? That’s what’s up.
When I encounter racially offensive behavior in a professional setting, I’m not one to let it slide. But I’m also not about to make a scene at my job or around my coworkers. So checking somebody requires a calculated approach. If I humor Trevor’s ignorance; it will only positively reinforce his behavior. If I wild-out and tell him “Watch ya mouth”, then I reinforce whatever stereotypes are floating in Trevor’s head. This office life is a perpetual catch 22.