Some weeks back a misdirected e-mail appeared on my computer monitor—the author intended it for ‘a different John’ apparently—but the content was so surprising I had to read it several times before determining it was real.
This ‘joke’ used the ‘n#####-rigged’ phrase, associating it with the prospect of an African-American being elected as President of the United States, and the need to re-engineer policies and practices…the Caucasian author found it amusing. After exhaling a few times and evaluating response options, I chose to challenge this in kind with a return e-mail rather than any number of much more confrontational or damaging tactics.
To start I inquired as to whether the e-mailed ‘joke’ was supposed to land in my In Box (it wasn’t) and that led to disclosure that the intended recipient was an African American friend of the author! Huh? The author said this buddy ‘of the minority persuasion’ doesn’t get upset over such things, instead, they occasionally exchange ‘off color’ expressions without any negative feelings.
You could almost hear the air come out of the author’s gut when I asked about referencing this ‘joke’ in my blog and assigning it to him and his nationally known company—to see how the corporate office, media and customer base might react—as you would imagine that was met with profuse apologies at a ‘lapse’ which led to this mistake.
To personalize and drive home the point being made even more, I asked the author how he thought the dozens and dozens of black Club members in attendance that day might feel about his ‘joke’ and that went unanswered.
There is no place for the ‘n’ word and others like it in our society—not out of ignorance or by casually repeating the work of another person—we must challenge such behavior in general and especially if it is demonstrated in front of children. After all, our commissions and omissions can both be instructional….let’s teach the right things to kids.