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