Squarespace exec told staffer "you’re so black, you blend into the chair"


#1

[Read the post]


#2

Racial insensitivity at a tech startup? How can this be?


#3

I agree that particular statement is way over the line, but I tried to read that whole article when someone linked it earlier and it was so, so dramatic and overwrought. I could not make it through to even get to that section. So much drama.

Not knowing how to negotiate or ask for what I wanted, I asked for a meeting with the Director of Customer Service (let’s call her Kelly). I told Kelly I was “tired of doing chump change work,” which angered her. She didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day. In hindsight, my choice of words weren’t the best, but neither was her reaction. Prone to grudges, resentment, and fickleness, Kelly’s reaction to my words was par for the course.

Drama, miles of it.


#4

I don’t get what you’re saying. What do you mean in regards to this situation by “drama”?


#5

“you’re so black, you blend into the chair”

“Well, you’re so white you casually say racist stuff and think it’s funny.”


#6

It seems to me that statement made may have been a statement of fact from the perspective of the speaker. There’s not inherently a negative there, although the listener may have been primed to expect it by cultural factors.


#7

Sounds like “she’s not a very good victim.”


#8

If it was worded the way the author states, yeah i don’t think so. Were it actually a statement of truth there would likely be an apology in there for missing her. Maybe some flustered-ness because missing someone is indeed kinda rude even if unintended. I read that as a deadpan “Oh i didn’t see you there” and then an excuse for why. Kudos to this woman for standing up for herself I figure. It needs to happen more. It sounds like she was treated like trash for most of t he time she was there and that’s just sad :frowning:


#9

Right, a perspective that doesn’t “see” black women because they’re considered (perhaps unconsciously) less important.

Look, as Lamont herself pointed out, she’s brown, not black. And presumably she wasn’t wearing clothes that were all exactly the same color as her skin. You’re straining mighty hard to blame the victim here.

There’s not inherently a negative there, although the listener may have been primed to expect it by cultural factors.

Right, all her fault. SHE’S the one whose actions are too heavily influenced by “cultural factors.” Mm hmm.

so much of that thread applies to this one Lamont’s situation.

ETA: And if this profile pic on the linked site is actually her, she’s hardly even brown.


#10

Did you read the article, or are you prone to simply offering apologia for racists?

Because given the narrative, it’s looking more like the latter.


#11

More like, “it was a difficult article to understand”. Or, “buries the lede”. Take your pick!

Compare with this, which gets to the point quickly:
https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/474q2s/having_trouble_with_a_contract_and_i_dont_know/

One is quite clear, at least, about what the problem actually is… versus asking the reader to wade through a lot of petty day to day personal work grudges to get to whatever the point was.


#12

I didn’t find it a difficult article to read. I think a lot of what it effectively “dramatizes” is the gradual accretion and weight in the common black professional’s daily life of certain moments, those moments when you’re not sure if what’s happening is a racial matter or not – if the moment is being affected by a white person’s perception of you as “black,” and/or a “black woman.” One thing a lot of white people don’t realize is how, when a negative moment that clearly, definitely is about race finally does arrive, the weight of all those other moments comes with it, for the black professional. For how that professional feels in the moment.

White people often think black people are on the lookout for racism, ready to pounce on any possible instance of it. Quite the opposite is the truth for most black people in largely white settings. For one thing, you’re sometimes not sure. For another, you better be DAMN sure before you say anything about it, and have evidence and/or witnesses, because the consequences of being wrong, or accused of or thought of, being wrong, can be great (as opposed, in many cases, to the consequences for perpetrators).

You should look up microaggressions sometime. It’s not an important concept merely because it describes smaller moments of racism; the bigger point is, those moments add up.


#13

Ok, thanks for that. Maybe it is my gender speaking, but I found the inclusion of a love story in there, the co worker dating details, made the article even harder for me to understand. How is that information relevant to the racism claims?

I am a dude, I am all about The Problem and Fixing The Problem, but I had a hard time processing this article as anything specifically fixable? Her supervisor sounds like a real jerk, I agree, and racist comments are bullshit and should not be tolerated, I agree. Now what?


#14

what’s the drama? I mean, if you think the work is not up to your level of competence shouldn’t you say something about it?


#15

discrimination based on gender and race are closely interlinked in this story and in life in general and it’s not possible to discuss one without the other and provide a coherent account of this sweries of events.


#16

Dude I’m so white I could be offered a government job if i had fewer morals and was more of a sociopath.


#17

Now what?

Well, for starters, a dude such as yourself, presumably a white one, could try to learn more about how he’s likely to perceive black people and/or women. If you haven’t worked on it, you’re not likely to be as fairminded and objective as you probably think you are.

He could also try to understand better what life is often like for others in a place where they’re overwhelmingly not a member of the norm. That tends to wear people down, as I think Lamont’s story demonstrates. And since racism (and often sexism) is usually so covert and unconscious these days, a lot of self-doubt gets thrown in. Is it me, or was that incident racist (or sexist)? So often one can’t be sure, but sometimes, one is. And even then, it’s like, should I say something? Or should I go with the flow, keep my head and dignity down, because whatever I say will likely be excused away, or dismissed as (another example of people like me making up more) “drama”?


#18

If someone had the perspective that a black person blended into a black chair then I think that’s probably a racist perspective because I’ve known some really black people, and even if they ended up sitting in a chair the exact same tone as their skin and were naked at the same time they wouldn’t have blended in because of something called 3 dimensions, and anyway this lady was brown, and does she also have long gray hair and black lipstick? Because if so, yeah! I would totally fail to notice her too.


#19

This is kind of off topic, but I just listened to this podcast yesterday and for some reason it is resonating really strongly with this story and the comments for me. Those of us with privilege often have a real blind spot when it comes to the tone oppressed minorities use to talk about their struggle.


#20

I agree. She says in her piece that she was wearing a blue shirt!

It’s completely obvious that the problem was not that person who couldn’t see her LITERALLY couldn’t see Lamont. Something in that person made her OVERLOOK Lamont.