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Caffeinated But Not Woke: How White Fragility Pervades The Workplace

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WRITTEN BY: HABIBI BRIDGES

I was a new hire at a local coffee shop here in San Francisco that outwardly prides itself on its wokeness, but ironically has a history of scandal involving racism and sexism. I noticed many of my coworkers making jokes that would be considered inappropriate if the company’s reality matched its rhetoric and I decided to join in on the fun. I am a woman of Arab descent who grew up in a strict Muslim household. I had to attend middle school and high school in a wealthy, mostly white East Bay suburb in post-911 America. As a result, I developed a sense of humor. 

I am a woman of Arab descent who grew up in a strict Muslim household. I had to attend middle school and high school in a wealthy, mostly white East Bay suburb in post-911 America. As a result, I developed a sense of humor. 

Less than a month on the job, I was reprimanded by an assistant manager for bullying my straight white male coworker. A man who was a self proclaimed leftist that literally said diversity in cities increases crime rates at work. But don’t worry, he prefaced it with “I’m not racist, but…” This didn’t get him in trouble. There were also several risque jokes that were made in front of me during my short tenure at the coffee shop. One day, a customer walked in and asked to speak with the manager. The coworker I was accused of bullying, that for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call Phil, said jokingly, “I’m the manager.” To which I quipped, “typical white man thinking he’s in charge.” I didn’t mean anything by it. It was a joke in an environment where jokes like this were commonplace. Phil went to our manager and I was told to review the company’s policy on bullying and harassment. 

However, he did warn me of the reality of white fragility in the workplace.

I have never received this kind of feedback at any of my other jobs. To the contrary, I was usually the more progressive type in the workplace compared to others. Even at this job, I felt more strongly about social issues such as feminism than many of my coworkers. I definitely care more than the white men that came from other parts of the country who feel the need to cultivate a facade of wokeness, but express their genuine beliefs openly when they’re in what they consider a safe space. 

This initially made me a little distraught, but then I scoffed at the absurdity of the situation and opened up to one of my other coworkers about the ordeal. This coworker, who was also awhite male, was taken aback, laughed and called it “a bunch of bullshit.” Even my general manager, a white passing Latino, agreed and told me I’d never catch him shedding tears for Phil. However, he did warn me of the reality of white fragility in the workplace. 

A significant percentage of self-identified white allies want to be looked at as an exception to white privilege.

What was truly puzzling is that during my first week on the job, Phil joked about other patrons who were also white males for being “entitled white males.” I assumed that this type of humor was his cup of tea. However, his attitude changed when he became the butt of the joke. 

This is when I realized something that I failed to notice about some white progressives in a place like San Francisco. A significant percentage of self-identified white allies want to be looked at as an exception to white privilege. They want to be accepted by the woke in crowd that they’ve fetishized as a stamp of urban life while not relinquishing the preferential treatment they’ve received as a result of them being white in a system that arbitrarily favors it. It’s the ultimate form of collective narcissism. Phil was likable and charismatic if you could get over this glaring character flaw. 

The experience made me wonder how common this dynamic was with progressive white people. Was the foundation of their allyship based on care for the oppressed or were minorities, racial or otherwise, being used for augmentation in an attempt at surface level virtue at the expense of everyone?

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4 Comments

  1. Luciano Mezzetta
    June 9, 2022 at 1:13 pm — Reply

    The article by Bridges is the usual virtual signaling and victim posing of the woke. BASTA!

    • June 10, 2022 at 11:47 am — Reply

      You saved everyone the trouble of pointing out your ignorance when you wrote “virtual signaling”. 👏🏿 Bravo,❄️, bravo.

  2. George M Davis
    June 9, 2022 at 3:17 pm — Reply

    Why don’t you all lumpen proletariat working class baristas have a union and realize that your economic class outtrumps the racial bullshit you and the Democratic Party bring up?

    • June 10, 2022 at 11:45 am — Reply

      …he said as Republicans fund worthless recalls and casually dismiss the violent acts of treason they committed on Jan. 6.

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