DEAR HARRIETTE: I was in a virtual meeting at my job the other day, and someone made a racist comment about a fellow co-worker who was not on the call. I was shocked that this person made the comment, but it was almost worse that nobody said anything about it. I didn’t speak up either. I am in a junior position and was afraid that if I said something, my job might be in jeopardy. But I’m still mad about it. A few people have been texting about it, but that isn’t going to change anything. Do you think I should say something to my boss? He didn’t make the statement, but he has the power to address the situation. I want to be an ally, but I don’t really know how. -- Becoming an Ally
DEAR BECOMING AN ALLY: Too often, when people make rude, racist or misogynistic statements in front of others, those assembled freeze or otherwise fail to acknowledge what was said. That is considered being a bystander in a situation where allyship is needed. People need to build the courage to speak up. Otherwise, no lessons will be learned, and hurtful statements will continue to be made. Sometimes the moment calls for people to stand in harm’s way in order to bring light to a wrong.
It is not too late for you to act. Yes, speak to your boss and revisit what happened. Ask your boss if he thinks it was wrong and if he would address it. If the answer is no, go to human resources and report the situation. If you have a diversity, equity and inclusion office, you can also report this incident there.
If you have a relationship with the offender, you can also speak directly to that person and share that what was said offended you and that you hope they will not say such things again.