I get a weekly newsletter from the website Diversity, Inc.com. My favorite articles are the ones that address “what not to say” in the work place. Kind of like the warnings on hairdryers that say “not to be used in the bathtub or shower”—Stuff we’d like to think is a given, but clearly enough people have done it that something extra needed to be said.
According to this site you really shouldn’t say stuff to Latino executives like: “Hola, Habla Ingles?”, or “Do you live with your parents?” And, my favorite—“Can you show me your knife?”- No sh*t this was literally in this article.
Might I make a suggestion to my Latino executives friends? I contend that you calmly explain that while those are parts of the Latin culture- they are the stereotype not the rule. And if that doesn’t work- call up each of your 42 first cousins, tell ‘em to meet you in the parking lot of the Four Seasons and jump your idiot co-worker right after your luncheon- they’ll never see it coming.
It’s also kind of inappropriate to say to your Black co-workers: “You’re so articulate.” “Why are you acting white?” “You don’t sound Black over the phone”. And, “Why are you so angry?” Black people, that’s when you calmly explain to Whitey (preferably without rolling your neck) that if you spoke like a “hoodrat” that’s where you’d still be. And just maybe your anger is a direct result from having to answer dumbass questions like- “You went to Harvard?! Really?!!”
It would be behoove you not to say to an Asian co-worker: “YOU must be the IT person”! Or, “You speak English good. Do you speak your own language?” And the classic- “You’re not a minority because all Asians are rich and successful.” Yes, that’s why most of the time our encounters with Asians are at the dry cleaner or when we order delivery. Asian people, that’s when you correct the offender with a judo chop to the juggernauts and leave a pokemon calling card on their keeled over body as a warning to other imbeciles.
In a perfect world we wouldn’t need a website telling us how not to act like a-holes. But so long as people think it’s okay to say to a recently out co-worker, “I always suspected you were gay.” Or if folks continue to be oblivious to the fact that speaking slowly or loudly to a person in a wheelchair is not only unnecessary, but completely inappropriate! I will be there to make fun of it!
Karith Foster: Speaker, Humorist, Author
Karith Foster is a stand-up comedian, motivational speaker, TV & radio personality, actress, author, blogger and entrepreneur.
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