"The Ethicist" is Randy Cohen's long-running advice column in the New York Times. Each week, Gabriel Delahaye's "The Unethicist" will answer the same questions as "The Ethicist," with obvious differences.
I answered an ad for a job as a data-entry clerk at a faith-based charity, but I stopped filling out the application when it said I could not work there unless I signed a "statement of faith," affirming that I had evangelical Christian beliefs. Isn't this religious discrimination? — Janet Lama, Charlotte, N.C.
I haven't spent much time in the south, but one of the few places I've been was Raleigh, North Carolina. It was for my stepaunt's wedding, which featured a "pig pickin." The wedding celebration was in a single-story community center in a residential neighborhood. They set up the smoker in the front yard, and everyone pulled pork from the whole pig, like some kind of post-apocalyptic feeding frenzy, but with an abundance of delicious sauce.
At some point I got upset about something. I was in high school so I was probably mad that I wasn't allowed to listen to my Walkman during the wedding toasts, or whatever people in high school get mad about. I went outside to get away from "my fucking family who don't know anything about anything," and ended up sitting against a streetlamp across the street. A man came out of his house and asked what I was doing. I said that I was just sitting there. I told him that I had come outside to get some air, and pointed to the community center across the street. "Well," he said, "you better get back where you came from." I would like to say that I murdered this man and burned his house down, but I just straightened my tuxedo t-shirt, gave him the finger in my mind, and went back to the party to drown my anger in barbecue.
I guess my point is fuck North Carolina. Fuck evangelical Christians. Fuck data-entry clerks. Fuck filling out applications. Fuck "statements of faith." And obviously, fuck you. I'LL SIT WHEREVER I WANT, SOUTH.
I was to screen candidates for a job at my office that requires considerable phone time with our high-end, snobbish customers. When my boss said, "Don't bring in anyone who wants to 'ax' you a question," my first reaction was that she wanted me to exclude African-Americans. My boss claims to support equal opportunity, but was she being racist here? — name withheld, New York
Look, we live in a capitalist society. Whether you like it or not, this system results in deep class divisions and stratified inequalities across the social spectrum, from education to diet to access to affordable health-care to marketing campaigns for name brand colas. Every aspect of American life is governed by a complex web of socio-economic drivers.
So when someone reaches a certain level of income, whether they earned it or inherited it, it's only natural that they don't want to have to deal with black people on the phone anymore. That is their right as a member of the privileged class. There's nothing worse than calling up a customer service line to complain about a new pair of diamond shoes and hearing a voice that is obviously black. When you're rich and you make a phone call, you do not want the person on the other end to be someone that probably has to ride public transportation to one of the three jobs they barely hold down to pay for the three kids they're trying to raise on an income well below the poverty line. Unless they are white. Then it is fine.
I get the sense from your question that you are white, so I can't believe I even have to explain this to you. If I were your boss, I wouldn't be your boss. Because I would have fired you.
Naturally, my answer to your question completely ignores the possibility that your boss simply misspoke or had a slip of the tongue—especially considering that what she said doesn't even make any fucking sense—and you went on an "eracism" tirade against her that actually says more about your own deep-seated sterotypes and ideas about who uses "ebonics" and what that says about them. And for the record, giving people a "jive" handshake and owning a Dead Prez record doesn't make you any more sensitive to the African American "struggle," and having one black friend doesn't give you the moral highground in this. Nigga please.