The right to remain silent

Have you all seen this?

image via

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 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?



  1. I’m sorry playa, I don’t see anything offensive about the Obama chia – unless you count ‘stupid’ as ‘offensive.’ What’s the racial issue? That he looks like a black Joker?

    On the subject of lashing out on those who are racially insensitive, it’s really a touchy issue. No one should have to put up with anyone’s crap (whether the insensitive remark is intentional or not) but if you fuss about any and everything that bothers you you run the risk of being seen as the ‘angry minority’ and no one will take you seriously when some real Jim Crow-type stuff goes down.

    It sucks but it’s reality.

  2. Jai…you know, this can be a tough one. As I learned early on in adulthood, you gotta learn how to pick your battles. I personally just ignore people and don’t answer their dumb questions when they have them but like you stated, silence isn’t always the answer.

    I try to find that happy medium by educating people from time to time but only when I feel like it and when it is absolutely necessary. Sometimes I just feel like letting people stay dumb. That’s not nice but I am being honest here.

    When people are trying to bait or goad me into something, I just ignore it. When I realize that people are truly clueless, that is when I try to clue them in.

    But that chia was a dumb-ass idea.

  3. LOL Edd he does look like a black joker.

    i also didnt see anything offensive about it. Just looks disgusting like all of the chia plants do.

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