My colleague used a racist term at work
I work in a public library with a small staff, from which I am one of the junior members in age, title, and working time (less than a year). Pam was hired around the same time when I was and despite our differences in the title, we were trained together.
She is 30+ years older than everyone else in our workplace and I think she is self-conscious about this, which makes this issue even more difficult.
Tomorrow, Pam hosted one of our usual stories for Preschool Protectors. Later, when he came in the back room to supply, he mentioned that there were only three children, including “two small dolls.” I was frightened by the use of one word by him, I believe that is generally considered racist if not only poor taste.
Being a junior employee and the guard was also caught, I had the disadvantage of what I have to say. Other staff members were near, but nothing said.
We are a completely white branch, but we have a racial diversity of young guardians, especially after school. I am afraid of imagining telling this to the members of the public.
Am I overreacting? Do I share it with my manager? Just let it go and hope it will never happen again? I have a hard time imagining bringing myself to Palm because she is a bit of a steam roller and is condescending to me as a junior employee. How should I handle this?
Yes, you need to say something. It is possible – possibly probable – that Palm could not understand that it is now an aggressive word, but someone needs to tell him that he stops using it at work (and hopefully somewhere else Too, but the work here is the issue).
If you are not comfortable in bringing it with your own palm, you can talk to your manager and suggest that he does – but it is likely that Pam is going to be clear that you are the one who Talks to the boss, and in fact in most cases is more harmful for the relationship if you say something straight.
Clearly the ideal thing is to say something like this in the moment, “I do not know if you know that this word is a filthy thing.” But it is certainly not unusual that at this moment it is so disgusting that you will open your inauguration.