WaPo Quest columnist Brenda Howard on how tough it is to be a Trayvon Martin supporter among moral inferiors [Darleen Click]
Weep for Brenda as she quits her job over the desktop hoodie on her company computer.
I needed to do something. The Monday after the trial ended, I went to my job at a small doctor’s office and made my computer desktop wallpaper (which was not viewable to the public) an image of a hoodie. This image had sprung up on the Internet and social media as an expression of support for the Martin family. It is meant as an acknowledgement that this senseless death had not gone unnoticed.
Then, at the end of the week, President Obama went into the White House press room and made history. He said that Martin could have been him. As the only president we’ve had who could say such a thing, Obama conveyed his experience being a person of color and told the world that his story wasn’t unique. Our president asked that we “do some soul-searching.” He let us know that he didn’t have much faith in politicians organizing conversations on race, but he said that he thought that in our families, churches and workplaces we might succeed.
But that’s not what happened in my case. On Aug. 1, at the end of a long work day, my boss called me into his office. Apparently, during the two weeks since I had selected the hoodie image for my computer desktop, some of my co-workers had complained. They felt that this image, which could be seen only when I logged in or minimized all the windows open on my screen, was inappropriate. My boss, looking distressed, told me that I had to change it. [...]
Despite Obama’s request that we work to advance the conversation on race, I’m sorry to say that I was complicit that day in halting our progress on this task. An opportunity that should have been a prelude to a real discussion on the symbolism of the hoodie or the anxiety it provoked was lost. [...]
I didn’t know Trayvon Martin, but his story touched me. What made me feel sad about his death was not going to dissipate with the removal of an image from my computer screen. And although the anxieties of my co-workers might be assuaged with its removal, I knew, too, that the silence that would be sure to follow would be misconstrued as progress. I wasn’t comfortable with that.
Where upon our uncomfortable Ms. Brenda handed in her resignation.
She wanted a discussion on race and her co-workers let her down. I’m sure when she explains that in her upcoming interviews, bosses at workplaces with workers of better moral fiber will just jump at chance to hire her.
Good luck, Ms. Brenda!