Yes, this is a Chia Obama and no, it’s not a joke. In case you missed it, this “special edition” Chia Pet depicting the president with some kind of freaky green afro was actually out on the market until Walgreens decided to pull it from its shelves last week after bad press and complaints from some consumers who found the plant to be racist. (The Chia Obama will still be available at chiaobama.com in case you’re dying to have one.)
Race matters aside I just think the thing looks stupid, but I digress.
What this Chia Obama got me thinking about (other than wondering who still buys Chia Pets) is how often people of color have to explain to non-minorities why certain things are offensive. I struggle with this often. When a white co-worker recently asked me if she could touch my hair I know she wasn’t trying to offend me, but she did. I couldn’t figure out a way to explain that to her in a way that wouldn’t make her feel like I was accusing her of being racist. So I said nothing. I know staying silent isn’t the answer. But if I launched into a monologue every time someone said or did something racially insensitive around me I’d never get any work done.
So how do you find a balance?
And this isn’t just a race issue. In many work places dominated by men sexist comments are as common as coffee. So what’s a girl to do? When do we speak up and when do we just let it go?