DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a non-Black co-worker who appears to draw his whole identity and personality from Black culture.
He is constantly speaking in AAVE (African American vernacular English), listens to Black music only, and I’ve even caught him casually using a few slurs when he’s speaking to non-Black friends. He doesn’t really have any Black friends from what I can see.
I’m offended by the fact that he’s adopted parts of Black culture that perpetuate negative stereotypes. Everything about the way he carries himself and acts around other people is racist. How should I address this situation?
DEAR CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: If you think that your co-worker will listen, develop a rapport with him.
If your goal is to get him to see how his behavior may be offensive to Black people, you must first gain his trust so that he can listen to you. Then, when he makes a statement or uses a turn of phrase that you consider racist, ask him why he chose to say that. Tell him that his words are offensive, and back up your comment with a clear explanation of why.
Be as descriptive as you can to illustrate to him how and when and why he has been inappropriate. Ask him to stop. If he refuses, keep your distance from him. You may also want to report his actions — in detail — to human resources.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend feels stuck at her current job. She has an impressive résumé, and I know she’s overqualified for the job she has now. Anyone would want to hire someone like her.
She doesn’t want to be without income, but I see how miserable this job is making her.
I don’t know how to get her to take a leap of faith. How do I encourage her to start the journey of at least searching for a different job?
Leap of Faith
DEAR LEAP OF FAITH: Your encouragement is wonderful, and you may be able to channel it to make it more useful.
Ask your girlfriend what she would want to do if she could do anything. Help her to dream about her future. Then ask her if you can help her to make one of her dreams come true.
If she can take her focus off of the negatives of her situation and put more emphasis on her future, it may help her to be happier.
What can she do in this job that will help her to fulfill her dreams? What might the next job be that would get her closer to her goals? She should apply for that. The more specifically she thinks about her future, the more likely she will drum up the courage to take the next steps.
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.
This content was originally published here.