Maya Kieffer is a Writing Class Radio student, bookseller, writing teacher in prison and the creator of Dear Person, an advice blog. Below, an excerpt from her blog.
Dear Person Week Two: In This One, We Bring Up Nazis.
I recently moved to a beach town and needed to make some money while I set up my own business, so I applied to work at a hotel on the beach front. I have years of experience and got the job offer on the first interview. They also told me they were seasonal and closed during the fall. It sounded perfect for my needs.
The job is great, I can see the beach from my desk and my coworkers are nice to me. The issue is that my manager and the operating owners are extremely racist. I should say before we continue that I am white. I work with people who are African American and some maids who are Mexican.
The people in management make comments like, “The maintenance man does a good job, when he does his job. He can’t help it though, because he is black.” If they suspect the majority of our guests for the day will be black they will say stupid things like, “Today’s forecast: 69 degrees and the sky is Black.”
They are also diehard Fox News watchers and love Trump but can’t name a policy they support. Lately, they have been coming to me because of the Facebook hearings because they don’t understand and I “keep up with these things.” That makes me so upset. They are being intentionally obtuse and just internalizing what hate mongers tell them.
I need to make it to October so I can launch my business. How can I handle this in the best way?
Dear Staying Silent,
I suspect your question is not actually about how to remain at this job until October. I say this because you already know how to stay: continue showing up to the hotel and completing your paperwork with a sealed mouth. I also suspect you’ve written in hoping that someone might respond with absolution in the form of “Do what you gotta do to keep paying the bills!”
But Silent, I truly believe there is something else buried within your letter. The fact that these ugly (and, honestly, straight up idiotic) comments have stayed with you — and that they’ve become so heavy you needed to dump them out — tells me there’s a decent-sized chunk of you genuinely seeking change. This is the part of you that I’d like to speak to.