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OT - Prime Example on Being Careful About what you say

I know this has nothing to do with excersise but I'm so annoyed! I just got out of a meeting with three of my co-workers. On one of my projects we will be doing real estate acquisitions. Apparently my co-worker has a friend who does this for a living. Here is what he said:

"I have a friend who does that. She's really sharp and great at what she does. She's had a lot of success being bi-lingual. Which is great for the area that we will be working. But she doesn't speak EBONICS"

Now considering that I'm Black this was a real slap in the face. I've never had an issue with this person but to say that in front of me makes me wonder what do you say at home ?

Honestly I really don't care what you say at home but this is a prime exampel of being careful about what you say and who you say it in front of. Reminds me of a recent thread about "Dots or Feathers".

To him it was just a joke because obviously he's not talking about me, right ? I'm mean I'm so "articulate" and "well spoken" as they say.

I had to get up and leave that meeting before I said something I would regret. Another day in Corporate America.

Fri. Jan 11, 12:38pm

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sorry, you work and live in America--don't like it, leave. You chose to work for other people, which means you take the good with the bad. Sounds to me like you're an angry person who takes things so personally. Who cares what others say! If it bothers you, then his comment won.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 12:47 PM

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PP - I think it's a little ridiculous to expect ignorant comments just because you "work and live in America".

What does that say about Americans?

(also -- I am not the OP)

Friday, January 11, 2008, 12:49 PM

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How am I an angry person ? Where would you get that idea ? What he said was wrong. FLAT OUT WRONG. To say that at a professional meeting AT WORK is WRONG. I have every right to be offended by that comment.

But again to the go to answer is alway is "Calm down, don't take it personally".

Friday, January 11, 2008, 12:50 PM

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I think you an ignorant, fat, demeaning, arrogant pig ..........

Friday, January 11, 2008, 12:56 PM

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12:49--her specific comment was "another day in corporate america". what is she saying about where she lives and works? she's basically saying all business people, white in particular, are racist. that's pathetic. i'm not taking his side at all--i think he's an ignorant moron, but get real! White people face racist comments, too. EVERYBODY is offended by something. that's the way it works.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 12:58 PM

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12:56 learn how to spell. and you're presuming to know me by thinking i'm fat. isn't that ignorant?

Friday, January 11, 2008, 12:59 PM

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Wow. The difference between this comment and the "dot or feather" question is that it seems like there wasn't any reason to bring up "Ebonics" (!!) at all in the first place. This guy had to have been trying to be insulting, or likes the sound of his own voice 'WAY too much!

At least the "dot or feather" questioner was actually trying to find out relevant information, not trying to offend.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 12:59 PM

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Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:01 PM

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ohhh what's the matter 12:59, didn't you state and I quote ....
"Sounds to me like you're an angry person who takes things so personally. Who cares what others say! If it bothers you, then his comment won".

As for the spelling why don't you take your closed mind and hop on another thread.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:02 PM

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OP, I see why you would be offended. Go ahead and be mad for a few minutes.
If this is someone you've never had a problem with before then I would assume he just said something stupid with out realizing it could be offensive to you or anyone else at the table. I know I've said things trying to be funny that I wish I could take back.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:02 PM

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i'm not the one who made that comment, but thanks for jumping to conclusions

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:04 PM

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Op here: My comment on "Corporate America" is stating to the fact that as a minority of any kind (we can include gay, black, hispanic, fat,whatever) you have to deal with some real b.s. and swallow it. THAT WAS MY POINT. I put this thread up on purpose just to give a small glimpse into my perspective.
Everyone has one. I knew the "Don't Take It Personally" was coming.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:04 PM

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and what in the world makes you think just because you're black, you're the only one who goes through this? I'm not saying it's right, i never said that. My point is EVERYBODY goes through this, not just you!

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:06 PM

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I am a white woman and I was turned down for an Executive Accountant Job because of "minority quotas" the company had to make--they were a public firm and had to hire a specific amount of minorities. It happens.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:09 PM

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I'm not any of the angry PPs...

Here's the thing...about 10 years ago, the government was lobbied to make Ebonics a separate language from English so that the students would be put in ESL classes because their grasp of standard, contemporary American English was so poor. This did not happen, but Ebonics was the official term in use. I remember this because I was doing a master's in linguistics at the time and it became a big topic in our sociolinguistics lectures. Now at the risk of sounding ignorant, when did "Ebonics" become a politically incorrect term? Because 10 years ago it wasn't. In which case, what is the new PC term for it?

I mention this because...

(a) Maybe your co-worker thought he was using the right terminology.


(b) I've screwed up political correctness badly before and been called an ant-Asian racist because, while I was off living in Japan for godsake, the word "oriental" turned all negative (which still bothers me because I think it's a beautiful-sounding, exotically evocative word...but what do I know).

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:10 PM

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Keep in mind that the "quota" applies to women too. Lets not forget that "quotas" also help white women. And yes I'm a woman

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:12 PM

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well said 1:10. Is there a website we can all go to and find out what the latest and greatest PC words are for everything?

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:13 PM

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the fact is that a large portion of black america does speak differently. To point this out is to point out reality. That this might be an issue when working in this area is a valid point to bring up.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:15 PM

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Any person with common sense would know not to use the term "EBONICS" at a professional meeting. We won't even get into the fact that a black person is in the room.

Whatever the intentional definition of the word meant, I think it nows means "ghetto, uneducated etc".

I do think the minute it came out he realized what happened but it stings as a black person. Simple as that.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:16 PM

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So, as a black person, what would you like us to call the dialect-formally-known-as-Ebonics?

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:19 PM

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could it be that your co-worker simply views you as a person, and the fact that they used the word ebonics unthinkingly reflects the fact that when it comes to you, they are colorblind in some way? just a thought.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:19 PM

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1:19- maybe we can call it "criss cross language sauce"?

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:20 PM

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Do you honestly think that ? Its a real issue that a real estate acquistioner would need to know "ebonics" to speak with people ? Come on.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:20 PM

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i'm not the OP - whoever thinks the OP is being sensitive or overally dramatic has never experienced racism or discriminated against. Unfortunately, I believe discrimination and racism still plays a party in this country especially in corporate America.

Also - quotas have been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court so they cannot be used. What is so bad about recognizing that a diverse workforce is a stronger and better workforce in light of the fact that we are living in a global age and interacting with more countries other than Great Britain? Quotas are bad - but appreciating diversity and multiculturalism in hiring is fine by me.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:22 PM

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1:19- lol

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:24 PM

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Op here: No. i don't think that. I think that he views me as an educated black person who would somehow find humor in referring to blacks who are less educated in a deragatory way. I think he figures with my Ivy League Master's Degree I would somehow find that funny.

He's the one who said it was joke... which means that he thought that there was something funny about it. I don't see the humor.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:26 PM

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I agree that she's being oversensative and yes, i have experienced racism and discrimination. I am a white woman and I can't walk down the streets in urban areas without being discriminated against by young, black men (i don't know what frickin term I'm supposed to use now!). My white male friends went into the city to see a concert and they were shoved, called cracker, their girlfriend's were groped and felt up by these men. Isn't that racism? They specifically targeted white people to humiliate them.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:29 PM

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op. In your 1:26 post, you said this guy views you as a educated black person who finds humor in referring to blacks......

As a white person who just watched GUESS WHO last night, how is anyone supposed to know differently? A black family sitting around the table laughing as a white guys was telling black jokes. And then the white guy gets humiliated when the black guys calls white people birdshit!

this is a prime example of why i don't get upset with anything that others think should offend me--people can't do anything right anymore!

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:33 PM

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To draw a parallel, the equivalent would be an educated black person making a joke about white trash to an educated white person. As an educated white person, I would not find that offensive because it indicates an "outsider's" acknowledgement of the differences within a race other than their own. I would, however, find it offensive to be called white trash.

I feel that your co-worker was joking about class rather than race. That the demographic he was referring to was black was, perhaps, coincidental. I guess that would depend on whether he also uses terms like white trash.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:36 PM

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The term Ebonics (a blend of ebony and phonics) gained recognition in 1996 as a result of the Oakland School Board’s use of the term in its proposal to use African American English in teaching Standard English in the Oakland Schools. The term was coined by Robert Williams in 1973, but it wasn’t until the Ebonics controversy that Ebonics became widely used. Most linguists prefer the term African American English as it aligns the variety with regional, national, and sociocultural varieties of English such as British English, Southern English, Cajun English, and so forth.

but if you are ever offened by anything the best thing to do is just explain it to the person and ask that they be more sensitive. If they care about you or your relationship with you, they will do so.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:39 PM

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as a non black person I don't pre judge based on color but I definitely judge based on actions. MLK asked that we judge people not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character. So it is fair game when people act and talk like complete idiots. This is not racism, it is calling a spade a spade. And many black people I know feel exactly the same as I do about this issue, btw.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:50 PM

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I would find a joke about white trash offensive. I find the comment about ebonics offensive. I just think it is in bad taste to make fun of any group of people.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:50 PM

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Op here: I honestly don't think he thought I would be offended. He's a nice guy! Which is even more shocking for me because he's the last person who I would ever expect say that. I think the part that he forgot is that its still offensive. I just don't know who would say that AT WORK. AT A MEETING. Make me wonder...

Friday, January 11, 2008, 1:52 PM

Add comment ex-mother-in-law, whom I considered a very thoughtful and considerate person, once suggested that we order in "from the chinkie". For about 4 hours, until I was talked down by my then-husband, I thought she was a revolting racist and it didn't match up with the person I'd known for a year. Well, she's Scottish, and while I don't think they use it as a flattering term, neither was it (at least at the time) a pejorative one. Certainly the usage was more matter-of-fact and every-day the way I usually heard it delivered.

By the way, regarding the 1:50 post about "calling a spade a spade"... was that an intentional double entendre (mid-century slang reference)? Possibly offensive, possibly funny...and to make my point to the OP, possibly 100% unintentional and guileless.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 2:55 PM

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As a white female who lives in a rural community with very few black people (PC?), a high percentage of hispanics and the white community is mostly white trash; What in the heck are we supposed to call people of color and what is the PC term for white trash.
BTW I sort of agree with OP that the ebonics comment was inapropriate and unprofessional no matter if there was a black professional present or not. If the poor guy really thought they needed a "bilingual person" to do acquisitions in a black neighborhood, then he has more problems. But there is a better than average chance that he is just like me and has a big mouth and sometimes he's got his foot in it up to his knee before he even realized it.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 7:17 PM

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woah....calm down! Look it up....


Friday, January 11, 2008, 8:06 PM

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it is sad that people can make such derogatory statements and not be held accountable. i really think you should say something to them. let them know you were offended and the reason you are telling them this is in order to save them from future humiliation. i think it would be completely appropriate. The individual did not use the term in the appropriate setting. they were saying to be funny and it wasn't.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 8:53 PM

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12:47 your just another inconsiderate asshole who speaks before they think! What in the hell ever happened to having respect for everyone? What kind of people go around making degrading remarks about other peoples races to their faces? Have people no shame or respect for themselves? Would you walk up to a friend and say something mean and nasty just because you were thinking it knowing that it could possibly hurt their feelings? WAKE UP PEOPLE, YOU DON'T JUST WALK AROUND TALKING TO PEOPLE WITH DISREGARD AND DISRESPECT!

Friday, January 11, 2008, 8:55 PM

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I don't think the word Ebonics was the problem but the way in which the moron used it that was offensive.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 8:59 PM

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Jesus Christ why does colour have anything to do with it? so what your black? Mazltov! Would you rather work with someone who was outwardly "racist/un-PC" or someone who was going to act and speak this way behind your back? Political correctness is BS anyways. It's just another tactic to keep "white" people hanging their heads in shame.

You don't like working in corporate America because you're supposedly a minority (you are human right? sounds like a majority to me.) then quit. If you don't quit, then stop being so naive that you think everyone will or at least should avert their eyes and alter their speech because GASP a real live BLACK person entered the room. And guess what! She's a WOMAN!

If you didn't care, you wouldn't be posting and I can sympathize because what happened was shocking to you. However I cannot completely sympathize for you. Just as he had to bring up race differences for a joke, you did the same thing to try and garner sympathy. When will people understand that this CREATES prejudice, it CREATES these problems. When will we stop viewing ourselves as these separate entities based on our melanin levels?

As for you, 1:22 and your "multiculturalism in hiring",
Do you have any idea how stupid that idea is? How about "hiring the people qualified to do the job" as opposed to hiring based on cultural background. You wont be so appreciative of "multiculturalism in hiring" when you get cancer (example) and you get the C student oncologist, hired because he's Hispanic as opposed to the straight-A white guy the hospital passed over because he is too lacking in melanin.

7:30 -- EBONICS is what the quote-unquote urban youth, speak. African American English is the far more offensive term for it, and if you don't believe me, call the Jamaican guy I work with African-American.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 9:01 PM

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OK... so the white majority in this country claims that it is not oppressive towards minorities... but then it claims the right to decide what a minority member should be offended about and what she should "not take personally?" I am white. Now "we" have the right to dictate how people should feel? Awesome!

And yes, unfortunately color has to do with everything. The entire western society is build on a racist paradigm. Ignoring color is ignoring our own position within these paradigm, which is its own form of racism.

Friday, January 11, 2008, 9:38 PM

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I am white and my husband is black. Co-workers come up to me frequently and without any context in our conversation tell me they "don;t have a racist bone" in their body. This is a commom occurance. These same people will later make disparaging remarks about Mexican-Americans or other racial/ethnic groups.

We will use traveler coupns for hotels when we travel (the kind you pick up in booklets at rest stops). On several occasions my husband went into the hotel and asked for a room with the coupon...he was told there were no more rooms available. I would go in (because we had called from the car just moments before arriving) and then I was told there WERE rooms available. We didn't stay. I now go in to reserve hotel rooms.

Racism is alive and well in America. We have come a long way since the Civil Rights era. But you cannot legislate what is in someone's heart. My husband and I frequently ask ourselves how a racist comes to be. No one is born a racist. They learn it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008, 12:44 PM

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Apparently "ebonics" is a bad word that white people can't use in any context for fear of offending minority Ivy Leaguers.

Sunday, January 13, 2008, 12:08 AM

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What's with the put-on "black" English when Oprah and Obama were addressing the crowds in South Carolina? Okay, Oprah is reaching back for her roots, but Obama??? Was he being black or was he being southern or was he just being phoney? He sure didn't sound like the man I heard in Iowa.


Sunday, January 13, 2008, 1:00 AM

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Dearest friend,
Put Jesus first. He will see you through.
Realize, too, that what this man said is a reflection of who he is not you. Seems to me with comments like that, he will make comments again and again. If he does, you might want to network with collegues and discuss his sudden outbursts that are inappropriate behavior. If you know someone in Human Resources at your firm, you might want to discuss this. If you feel he is targeting you specifically or anyone for that matter, try to catch him in his own dirt by making a recording of what he says. Eventhough you work in the same office, here is my advice: use the LOA on him! Laws of Attraction. This means give no thought to him then there will be no energy he can get from you. And stay clear of him. You and Me and the whole world is better off in mentally eliminating poisonous people in our life. If anyone, sister, is not loving or supportive, there should always be "lights" going on and off to know the person spells D A N G E R. Good Luck! I hope this helps. PS Go to Jesus, pray for this man, submit yourself to the Holy Spirit and GOD will give you the appropriate action to take at the time if you have too. Now, enough said, live and shine, my friend. Peace to you, sister!

Monday, January 28, 2008, 11:39 PM

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One thing about the term "ebonics" that hasn't been mentioned:

There was a time when educators thought most inner-city Blacks (I use that term because the handful I interact with now prefer it to African-American) simply talked lousy, ungrammatical English--not a separate dialect with its own grammatical rules, just a bunch of mistakes strung together.

Then someone did a grammatical study of the English spoken by inner-city high-school students and discovered that it did have a prescribed grammar; that certain nonstandard phrases and constructions had a specific meaning understood within the speaking community and were consistent.

So originally, ebonics was a step up, a way of saying that the people who spoke it weren't just speaking poorly, but were going by a set of understood grammatical rules known within their community.

It began to fall out of favor because of the prejudices already mentioned--the tendency to equate "ebonics" not with a dynamic, internally grammatically consistent dialect, but just with bad English--again.

Monday, January 28, 2008, 11:59 PM

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