It’s 2013. In order for you to function in the workplace you should pretend not to be racist, even if you are a little bit. (Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me…you’ve got nothing against them, it’s just that British jobs should go to British people first. I understand). Maybe you’ve got yourself in a bit of bother saying something a little bit offensive at work. Which is understandable. Everything’s changing so fast…I mean what is the terminology now? 50 years ago it was Coloured then some time around 1982 they wanted to be called Black, now it’s African Caribbean. Bleeding Nora, what a kerfuffle!
Here are my top five things not to say to your black colleague to keep you out of trouble. You can thank me by sending any unfinished bottles of Reggae Reggae sauce to my uni address. Cheers.
1) “Are you the Somalian translator?”
I know you’re a nurse, and that therefore life is hard. You’re the angels of the NHS. You’re overworked and underpaid. You see people’s poo everyday and wipe the snot from their nose, and all the thanks you get is a snarky little F1, fresh out of medical school messing up all your drips and overprescribing morphine. However, you still have time between shifts to go to Specsavers. Don’t ask a final year medical student of Jamaican parentage who turns up on the wards if they’re the Somalian translator. The Somalian translator knows who they are – when they get to the ward, they will present themselves to you. Many thanks.
2) “You’re so well spoken!”
Contrary to your sub-nutritional media diet of Top Boy and that dodgy So Solid Crew single you bought when you were 11, there are black folk who aren’t called Trevor McDonald who speak English. There are schools in Peckham, I promise.
3)”Can I touch your hair?” (whilst putting your hand in their hair).
If you really want to, then… Ask. Wait. Then touch. Or perhaps, Ask. Wait. Then don’t touch. I’m not your pet dog. My name is not Bingo. You are not Postman Pat. I am not your black and white cat.
4) “I have a friend from Uganda! She kinda looks like you…”
This is not a way to make friends with me. I’ve never been to Uganda. I don’t know anyone from Uganda. Uganda isn’t in the Caribbean. If you’re going to take a random stab at a country for your new black co worker to bond with you on, at least pick Nigeria. There’s lots of them about. You might get lucky.
5) “You’re Jamaican…I just love Jerk chicken! It’s so moist…”
I’m vegetarian. This isn’t really racist. It’s just annoying.I don’t tell all the new Chinese people I meet that I like noodles. Neither do I tell all the new Indian or Pakistani people I meet that I love curry. It’s just kinda….weird.Once you’ve been friends with someone for a while though, feel free to ask them for their jerk chicken recipe. After all, that’s what friends are for!
Oh let me add in a bonus one..
6) “You’re vegetarian? But I thought all black people liked chicken.”
This was said to me. By an Asian. I have no commentary.
I’ll just end by quoting Dave Chappelle… “All these years, I thought I liked chicken cause it was delicious; but turns out, I’m genetically predisposed to liking chicken!”
Peace guys 🙂
Disclaimer: This is all in jest. But many a true word is said in jest….just jesting!