You know how people say you shouldn’t bring “politics” into the workplace?
Well, I totally disregarded that today and I ain’t sorry!
In today’s employee meeting, we discussed Medicaid, and how as an advocate for our clients, we are to ensure that their every need is met. So, one of my coworkers…
You know what? First let me tell you what happened yesterday so that I can paint a better picture of why I responded to my coworker the way I did today. Yesterday, when I walked into the office, I overheard her and another coworker talking about the way millennials protest. She was expressing her disdain for the violence that millennials inflict while protesting. She stated that millennials should look at history and realize that they are protesting wrong.
She then bashed the college graduates who turned their backs on Betsy Devos.
Respect to Bethune Cookman’s class of 2017. HBCU Pride!
So, I turned to her and attempted to explain that the college graduates had the right to protest a speaker they did not want at their commencement. They invested time and money into the school. They are the school’s future representatives and their voices should not have been silenced. But obviously my voice was not worth hearing either because she ignored the hell out of me. She continued to speak right over what I was saying. Yall know I was upset. But, I decided that I was going to let it go.
Thank God for growth.
And I did. I let it go. Until she started talking crazy in the meeting today.
As we discussed Medicaid, the same lady started making generalizations about everyone on Medicaid. Among the misinformation she spat was:
- People on medicaid do not have high school diplomas.
- You have to dumb down how you talk to people on medicaid because they won’t understand what you are saying.
In my mind I thought why is this lady working in this position? At that moment, I felt bad for all of the clients she would come into contact with in the future. There is a strong possibility that they will not receive any type of compassion. At that moment, I knew I had to say something. I turned around to her and looked her in her eyes so she could not ignore me this time. I told her that she was stereotyping an entire group of people based on false knowledge. I told her that she was being offensive and I did not appreciate it. There are people with PhD’s who are on Medicaid because they can not afford to eat and pay their student loans at the same time, and I am sure they would be able to have an intellectual conversation with her about their benefits.
Following my outburst, our co workers started to share their Medicaid stories. And we were able to observe the diverse and sometimes very heartbreaking stories of those being assisted by Medicaid.
After a while, she started crying yall. I was not feeling it. She claimed that she was ignorant to it all and said that she should not be blamed for her ignorance. But she’s pushing 50 years old though. At some point in our lives we can no longer claim ignorance. There are too many resources in this world for us to say that we just did not know. No, that was a choice she made. She made the choice to believe what she believes. She made the choice to say what she said. And I made the choice to respond. To grasp and employ that teachable moment.
After the meeting, many of my coworkers came up to me and sparked conversations about classism, socialism, and Trump. I guess Politics is no longer taboo in our workplace And I don’t think it should be. We all live in this world. We know what’s going on. We should be able to have respectable conversations about it, hence, the art in learning to agree to disagree.
Today my purpose was reconfirmed. My name “Sandra” means helper/servant/defender of mankind. And I feel my best when I am striving to protect those who are not able to protect themselves. I know how it feels to be overlooked and underestimated. People often think its alright to say offensive things because others are not willing to step up and let them know that they are wrong. I can’t live like that.
No one should live like that.
So in the very wise words of Meredith Grey, who happens to be my spirit animal, please, “Find your voice, and fill the damn silence.”