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.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'd like to find ways to be less critical of myself. It seems that lately all I do is think of the ways that I’m inadequate. I’m constantly comparing myself to my peers and co-workers, and I recognize that that’s a problem. I’m not sure how to solve this. I fear that I’ve been doing it subconsciously for so many years that it’s ingrained into my personality. What should I do? -- Self-Critic
DEAR SELF-CRITIC: Now is a perfect time for you to start creating a formal list of your attributes. What are you good at? What are your accomplishments -- over time and this week? Count little victories as well as larger ones. Some of the best successes, by the way, come out of problem-solving. So think about what you have been able to overcome. Write it all down. Decide that you will look at yourself in the mirror every single day and profess your love to yourself. Say, “I love you just the way you are!” Say it with joy and resonance. Even on days when you are feeling low, stand in front of that mirror and call forth your personal greatness.
When you start doubting yourself, go back to the mirror and point out every great thing that you see. Even if you start out critical, look hard until you see something to celebrate. It could be the twinkle in your eye, the curl of your hair. Find something. You can do it!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)