• Afrika

    Mr. Meyer, my short answer is…SOMETHING, quickly, genuinely, and appropriately! I experienced a similar situation when working for the government legislative branch and was completely shocked, hurt, and disappointed when management and HR chose, initially, to do nothing. Unlike this situation which has played out publicly, our incident started (recap) when a white team member sent out a blast email to our team including our manager about how the “good old U.S.A.” would be better off if it built a moat around the border with Mexico, filled it with water from Hurricane Katrina, and added alligators from Florida. During the week this happened there had been lots of discussion on the hill about immigration reform and how to handle people trying to come into the U.S. from Mexico by crossing the border illegally. I found the email very insensitive, in poor taste, and borderlineracist and several other team members felt the same way. Our manager never responded, so I did, explaining to my colleague in a response email that I did not agree with her idea or appreciate being included in her email. I also explained to my manager how hurtful the statement was, how it undermined our already weak team relations, and asked her if she was ok with my colleague sending the message to the team. (Note* I paid, professionally, for addressing the issue.) After posing a couple awkward questions to figure out why I, being non-Mexican/non-Latino, was offended, she said she “didn’t respond because she didn’t know what to do.” So because she did not know what to do she took the head in the sand approach. Needless to say, that was completely ineffective.

    My opinion, the best thing to do in these situations is to address the issue instantly, honestly, and in kind. If the message is internal it should be addressed internally, but if the message is blasted internationally via social media the organization’s response has to be equally as public. Just my thoughts…thanks for taking the time to ask this question and for taking the time to listen to my response.