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to feel bad about not acknowledging the George Floyd murder to my employee this morning?

(155 Posts)
user47000000000 Mon 01-Jun-20 11:22:37

One of the girls who works for me happens to be black. I happen to be white. This is only relevant in context of this situation.

We have a great professional relationship and whilst we aren't friends outside work I know I have been a support to her with some personal things and with her professional development.

This morning I asked how her wkend was and she was very flat. I sensed something was wrong and asked her if she was alright, again she was flat and said she didn't really do anything. Her DH is a frontline worker and we have talked lots about her anxieties with this and how she finds it hard to relax so I thought "she clearly doesn't want to talk to me but is clearly not happy" so I said "well I hope you managed to get some down time to relax" to which she replied "well its hard to do that with everything that's been going on this weekend in the world".

I then twigged.

We had a very brief, awkward moment and then just talked about work. She didn't address it directly and neither did I.

At the end of the call I said "Look, I'm sorry if I was insensitive earlier". and she said "don't worry, everyone's the same".

I feel awful as I have obviously been outraged, saddened, angry about everything that's happened and have thought about it loads, what I can do, whether I'm raising my children in a way which fights injustice etc etc but I didn't think to mention it this morning. so is this white privilege? I feel awful.

OP’s posts: |
user47000000000 Mon 01-Jun-20 11:24:07

During our brief awkward moment I did say "It's awful isn't it?" and she just said "yeah".... then a bit of silence.

OP’s posts: |
FreeKitties Mon 01-Jun-20 11:32:54

Do your male colleagues acknowledge every women that has been murdered to you ?

There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive to the situation- but ask yourself what the point of making a ‘thing’ of it is- is it to offer some words of comfort (as you would do if a family member had died) or is it to demonstrate how ‘woke’ you are ?

If you want to support your colleague then you can help make sure she isn’t facing discrimination in her job that will be far more useful than speeches about how sorry your are this man was murdered.

Cobourg Mon 01-Jun-20 11:34:50

Sounds like your colleague is being over sensitive tbh.

Not sure why you’d give it a second thought.

PicsInRed Mon 01-Jun-20 11:34:54

It's probably nothing you've specifically done.

She's probably had to smile and nod through a lot of white people saying BLM... BUT blah blah looting blah blah thugs blah blah coronavirus crowds blah blah black people don't know what's good for themselves blah blah blah.

www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race

user47000000000 Mon 01-Jun-20 11:46:44

freekitties that's sort of where my head was.
As far as I can see she isn't discriminated against. She's bloody brilliant at her job and has just been promoted. I always ask about her DH and her family (her parents are both living separately and she talked about how lonely they've been) but I feel I'm being "insensitive white person" as I had a nice wkend even though something truly awful and horrific was happening sad

OP’s posts: |
MumpsimusMaximus Mon 01-Jun-20 11:50:32

You weren’t insensitive.

Does she tiptoe round you every time a white woman is murdered?

Mayorquimby2 Mon 01-Jun-20 11:51:10

Tbf presuming you're not in America or there's some other connection other than her race I think you'd look slightly bonkers and Partridge to assume her undefined flat mood was to do with a high profile racist issue in another country.

"Oh Jenny's not herself today, well she's black so the only explanation is what's going on in America, and couldn't be any of the countless shit shows going on in our own country."

Mayorquimby2 Mon 01-Jun-20 11:55:24

And I'm not saying she's wrong to feel upset just because it's going on in another country, America is so culturally influential and close to English life that it's always going to have a huge impact.

But it would be equally awkward of someone who was black came in to work today and was disgusting signs of sadness and a white coworker just two footed in with
"Oh are you a bit down today the George Floyd thing?"

And got a "No my gran died/ no I'm upset because I haven't seen my parents in months/ no XYZ reason"

NameChange84 Mon 01-Jun-20 11:55:38

I’m BAME. I don’t think you did anything wrong. I’d find it more offensive if white people kept coming up to me apologising for the actions of the US police force.

I work in a university and frequently find white colleagues discussing race and white privilege and bringing myself and BAME students into the points they are trying to make, clumsily. It’s horribly patronising and embarrassing.

It’s a very sensitive time but no one should make anyone feel wrong/bad/guilty because of the colour of their skin.

I’m heartbroken over what happened to George Floyd and all the surrounding and preexisting circumstances. I don’t begrudge anyone having a nice weekend. I have black relatives who had a nice weekend. Having a shit weekend doesn’t do anything to advance race relations in the US or here.

Mayorquimby2 Mon 01-Jun-20 11:55:59

*displaying signs of sadness

Autocorrect

Lubeylube Mon 01-Jun-20 11:57:54

When she says, what going on in the world, she may have been referring to coronavirus.

Goingalittlecrazy Mon 01-Jun-20 11:58:26

Think faaaaaar too much into this one.
If i spoke to my black friend today, and she seemed upset, I certainly wouldn't assume it had anything to do with America, if she told you otherwise and was open to a chat, wanted to reach out for support etc, she could do.

However, she didn't, and you are merely work colleagues, I wouldnt give it too much head space.

I actually think it was somewhat unprofessional of her to behave the way she has.

ValancyRedfern Mon 01-Jun-20 12:00:16

I don't think you did anything wrong. As others have said a clumsy attempt to discuss it would probably have been worse. A lot of bame people dealing with race issues complain that for white people the focus is always 'how can I feel better about it?' which I think is worth thinking about here.

Notredamn Mon 01-Jun-20 12:02:53

You were fine.
It would've been David Brent-like if you'd have dived in with assumptions about the horrible news from the US.

Lifeisabeach09 Mon 01-Jun-20 12:04:07

I put you were being unreasonable. You asked if she was ok, your colleague didn't want to talk. End of discussion. You need not apologise for being insensitivity when you were not.

Miriel Mon 01-Jun-20 12:06:14

You weren't insensitive but YABU for referring to her as a 'girl' who works for you unless she's actually underage.

Forumqueen Mon 01-Jun-20 12:07:50

I don’t think you did anything wrong and I am Black. But to the people comparing the death of George floyd to a white woman being murdered have seriously misunderstood the whole situation. That IS white privileged at its finest!

Heartlake Mon 01-Jun-20 12:08:01

If someone doesn't quite seem themselves, just say; "you don't quite seem yourself, is everything OK?"

And then when they answer as your team member did, just say, "well, how do you feel about that"?

This way, you show you care, you make no assumptions, and you get to find out what's going on.

This works well in LOADS of scenarios. And it reminds people that they don't 'seem' themselves whether they want to share what it is that's making them like that or not (some don't).

ChilliCheese123 Mon 01-Jun-20 12:09:10

The big is is you’d been all ‘oh my god as a black person how do you feel, isn’t it awful’ you’d come across a bit bat shit too. I saw a guy in Instagram saying white people can help by checking in on their black friends and colleagues. But actually thinking about it, if I just messaged all the black people I’m mates with and said ‘how are you, you know being black with everything that’s going on’ to be honest I’m pretty sure they’d be like what the hell are you doing. If they posted something explicitly saying they were feeling rubbish due to the events that happened in the US recently I’d be falling over myself to be supportive etc.

Feedingthebirds1 Mon 01-Jun-20 12:09:15

This morning I asked how her wkend was and she was very flat. I sensed something was wrong and asked her if she was alright

This is the point where she should have explained why she wasn't herself, rather than trying to make you work it out for yourself. As PPs have said, while it's awful there are a lot of other things which could have been behind it, and you could have guessed wrong, even after her 'this weekend' comment.

I accept that I'm not black and maybe see it differently, but you'd shown that you were concerned about her, she could have just said 'I've been so upset by what happened to George Floyd' and I'm sure from your post that you'd have immediately responded appropriately.

ChilliCheese123 Mon 01-Jun-20 12:09:36

*the thing is if

talismankeeper Mon 01-Jun-20 12:13:04

I don't think you did anything wrong here.

Bluemoooon Mon 01-Jun-20 12:13:22

Hopefully the police man will get prosecuted for murder (this time).

strivingtosucceed Mon 01-Jun-20 12:14:24

YABU for assuming you'd be able to see if she's being discriminated against.

I'm black and am definitely feeling a bit flat and down. Not just because of George Floyd but for some reason this past week there's been a lot of violence against black people and it physically pains me to see it.

What's almost worse is reading or hearing other people saying to me 'it's in America/elsewhere not here', 'people are selfish to be protesting','the British Police aren't like this', 'there's not that much racism in the UK' is frankly exhausting.

There is a problem wordlwide, and it needs to be addressed and saying things like

Does she tiptoe round you every time a white woman is murdered?

is disgusting and really shows the kind of person you are.

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