Wedding Woes

Wanting to defend yourself is natural, but let it go unless it comes up again.

Dear Prudence,

I’m coming in hot on an incident that just clicked. I was in a meeting with some colleagues last week and I vocally agreed with one on a procedural issue, and she (a Black lady) said, “It’s good to see you don’t think I’m a criminal anymore.” I shrugged it off as a joke I didn’t get until another lady (something of a gossip) recalled the incident today and explained to me that apparently the first woman thinks I’m racist because when I started work she was standing near me when I made a point of going back to lock my car.

I’m a middle-aged white lady and I’m sure I have some racist tendencies because I am a middle-aged white lady in America, so I’m fairly open (I think) to getting called on racist mistakes, but this isn’t one of them. I grew up in a high-crime neighborhood with a lot of addicts. If I didn’t lock up my apartment or my parents’ car, I’d get in trouble—even locking up our family car didn’t stop two break-ins, most likely from addicts, who only got my sister’s empty backpack in one break-in. I lock up all the time; my husband complains that he can’t step on the front porch without hearing the inevitable click.

Do I leave this alone, or bring it up directly with the first woman or see if it comes up again organically? I don’t think I have any issues with my professional relationships with the lady who made the comment, and we don’t have a personal relationship, so I think it’s not necessarily pertinent. However, I do now wonder if I’ve caused our working relationship harm by not realizing that this was something of concern. Also, and it could be just the more gossipy lady, but I worry there is a false narrative out there about me that is unintentionally causing friction.

— Locked In

Re: Wanting to defend yourself is natural, but let it go unless it comes up again.

  • Unless it comes up again I'd let it go.  As a CIS gender middle aged (when did THAT happen?!) white woman I am trying to be more aware and learn especially since I grew up with plenty of family members who were openly racist.

    But one thing I do whether visiting my parents who live on the border of the state's largest city or when parking in my own driveway  in my hard of a million trees is lock my car.  

    If that exact topic came up just say that you always lock your car out of habit especially since you had personal experiences with car break ins.   


    charlotte989875VarunaTTei34
  • Let it go u less she brings it up to you again. 

    If she does- ask her (calmly, not accusingly) to explain her comment. Listen to what she says. If it is the car incident explain (not defend) that you always lock your car and you’re sorry if your actions hurt her. 
    mrsconn23
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Let it go u less she brings it up to you again. 

    If she does- ask her (calmly, not accusingly) to explain her comment. Listen to what she says. If it is the car incident explain (not defend) that you always lock your car and you’re sorry if your actions hurt her. 
    Exactly this. 
  • There's no way to go around saying, "I heard you think I'm racist and I'm here to explain why I'm not."  I get it's one of the most hot-button issues, and being perceived as being racist is something people are trying to avoid like the plague (pun intended), but there's no room here to go about 'clearing it up' without basically putting your foot in it.  It was literally an off-hand comment from a known gossip.  It sucks, but the best path is to seek out ways to make connection and naturally talk about things like, why you're weird about locking your car, if it is germane to the conversation you're having.  
    VarunaTT
  • If the LW didn't say something in the moment/right after the meeting, I feel it's too late now and would just cause more awkwardness.  But if they do, the LW shouldn't even mention what the other coworker said.  Just express their confusion about the weird comment made in the meeting.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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