I appreciate that you noticed this and wrote about it.
Here is the larger problem, as I see it: why are people who clearly exhibit racism at subconscious levels still in leadership positions?
To me, it seems that people unaware of their racism — however ‘nice’ — have more work to do than people who are aware of it, regardless of their stances. The ‘nice’ person isn’t even aware: he will have to go through that realization PLUS the impact to others of his flippant display of privilege. He should understand all of this BEFORE he is given a leadership position. This, of course, flies in the face of white supremacy which was invented in order to privilege whites beyond any actual capacity for performance, which becomes clear once we are able to observe these guys in action.
The brown and black populations continue to grow in this country. Most people of color are aware when they are being derogated, whether it is unconscious or deliberate on the part of the privileged boss.
I see your article has focused on the personal experience of this, and what it means to negotiate the power differential created by ‘boss’ and ‘subordinate.’
But beyond the personal, we as a society have a larger problem: a big group of white men in leadership positions who lack critical leadership traits, for example, basic tact and empathy. Despite overt illustrations of their lack of basic perception of moral dilemmas, they continue to occupy most of the leadership positions.
On the other hand, we have a growing brown and black population which is illustrating, in a multitude of ways, that illustrate higher levels of actual performance and value, even with the heavy boot of white supremacy on our necks. This population is not only competing at higher levels —see Asians as a group and the active efforts white-led universities undertake to keep higher-performing POC out while taking bribes from rich white people to matriculate their underperforming children — but also understands racism because Asians deal with it on a daily basis. In my opinion, African-Americans are dealing with even more, as are the Native Americans (who haven’t been murdered.)
Why ever consider these men for leadership positions when they have such a paucity of leadership traits? Because the invention of ‘white’ allowed them, with a minimum of intrinsic value, take valuable resources from everybody else, thus also cancelling out the actual intrinsic value of the POC. Now we have all of these people at higher levels who lack the intrinsic moral capacity to be there.
The real changes will happen when we take the actual performers and put them in positions of power, not whichever white man — or in more recent times, white woman — happens to be in the general vicinity.
It will be a lot easier for rich white men in positions of power to ‘get it’ when they don’t have that power anymore and actually have to compete on an even playing field. At that point, their lack of accurate perception and cognitive dissonance will be much easier to call out, because the power differential will have changed.
They might be forced to face themselves, something they’ve been exerting a lot of effort to avoid.
More importantly, as a society, we need to put real leaders in leadership positions, not white men who STILL — after 400 years — don’t get it.