Comments you never want to make to a coworker

Thomas Lifson
It sounds like a David Letterman bit, but it appears genuine and well-intentioned.  Joe Biden might want to take a look at the Delaware Department of Transportation's Diversity Spotlight, which is offering advice to employees on what not to say to co-workers, in order to avoid accusations of racism or insensitivity. Although, for some unknown reason, no mention is made of convenience stores and South Asians, lots of other PC offenses are helpfully catalogued. For example:

African American Coworkers

You people

Let's just say you are asking for trouble when you make this reference. Your focus should be on the individual, not the race or culture.

Should we order fried chicken or watermelon for you?

This is stereotyping and shows ignorance.

You are articulate, or you speak very well.

As opposed to what? You may be implying that most African Americans are not well spoken or well educated. Remember a vice presidential candidate made this mistake.

I am not prejudiced against black people, my neighbors are black.

You are saying it's all right to treat people differently because you know a few people
of the same race.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Co-workers

Employees who make the decision to "come out" are usually apprehensive about the kinds of reaction they will receive from colleagues.

What did your family say?

This is personal and not an opportunity to start gossip.

I don't consider you gay.

This is insensitive.

Have you thought about getting help?

You are stereotyping, telling the person there's something wrong that should be fixed.

Never call a coworker a "fag" or "homo."

This is derogatory, rude, and totally insensitive.

I didn't need to hear that.

If you are not interested in the person's personal life, simply say "Thank you."

I find it intriguing that white people are given three insults for others to avoid, fewer than any other group mentioned (except for older workers who also rate three). In the interest of equity and justice, I offer my own suggestions of three other things never to say to a white co-worker. Because I am Caucasian myself, I claim the same exemption that applies to blacks with the N-word.

I don't consider you a racist

Some white people actually believe that anyone can be a racist if they hold invidious prejudices against other groups, and that the belief that only white people can be racist is itself racist.

o Do you want that sandwich on white bread?

The use of the expression "white bread" to indicate bland and uninteresting things is a cause for simmering resentment among some white people. Use caution. When in doubt, suggest lunch at Mickey D's.

o You play a sport really well

Many white people are sensitive about the under-representation of whites in major league sports (except hockey).

I am certain readers will have many other useful suggestions, in the spirit of our Vice President's home state.

Hat tip: Sweetness & Light
It sounds like a David Letterman bit, but it appears genuine and well-intentioned.  Joe Biden might want to take a look at the Delaware Department of Transportation's Diversity Spotlight, which is offering advice to employees on what not to say to co-workers, in order to avoid accusations of racism or insensitivity. Although, for some unknown reason, no mention is made of convenience stores and South Asians, lots of other PC offenses are helpfully catalogued. For example:

African American Coworkers

You people

Let's just say you are asking for trouble when you make this reference. Your focus should be on the individual, not the race or culture.

Should we order fried chicken or watermelon for you?

This is stereotyping and shows ignorance.

You are articulate, or you speak very well.

As opposed to what? You may be implying that most African Americans are not well spoken or well educated. Remember a vice presidential candidate made this mistake.

I am not prejudiced against black people, my neighbors are black.

You are saying it's all right to treat people differently because you know a few people
of the same race.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Co-workers

Employees who make the decision to "come out" are usually apprehensive about the kinds of reaction they will receive from colleagues.

What did your family say?

This is personal and not an opportunity to start gossip.

I don't consider you gay.

This is insensitive.

Have you thought about getting help?

You are stereotyping, telling the person there's something wrong that should be fixed.

Never call a coworker a "fag" or "homo."

This is derogatory, rude, and totally insensitive.

I didn't need to hear that.

If you are not interested in the person's personal life, simply say "Thank you."

I find it intriguing that white people are given three insults for others to avoid, fewer than any other group mentioned (except for older workers who also rate three). In the interest of equity and justice, I offer my own suggestions of three other things never to say to a white co-worker. Because I am Caucasian myself, I claim the same exemption that applies to blacks with the N-word.

I don't consider you a racist

Some white people actually believe that anyone can be a racist if they hold invidious prejudices against other groups, and that the belief that only white people can be racist is itself racist.

o Do you want that sandwich on white bread?

The use of the expression "white bread" to indicate bland and uninteresting things is a cause for simmering resentment among some white people. Use caution. When in doubt, suggest lunch at Mickey D's.

o You play a sport really well

Many white people are sensitive about the under-representation of whites in major league sports (except hockey).

I am certain readers will have many other useful suggestions, in the spirit of our Vice President's home state.

Hat tip: Sweetness & Light