employer sent out a fried chicken recipe for Black History Month, quitting at a bad time, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My employer sent out a fried chicken recipe for Black History Month

I am seriously considering quitting my Fortune 100 job over an email that went out to all U.S. associates to celebrate Black History Month. However, until I do, I’m hoping you have some advice on what else I can do. The email I received had this subject line: “Recipe Attached: Black History Month was first recognized in 1976.” The recipe attached was for “healthy fried chicken” and buried in the depths of the email was the submitter of the recipe — a white-presenting woman who lives in New York. There was also a link to a BBC article on the history of fried chicken being Scottish, not Southern.

I immediately clicked on the “submit feedback” link to provide them with the google search results about the racism of this. Within 30 minutes, they had issued an apology — of sorts. I’m not sure that “[we] understand there have been mixed emotions for some regarding today’s Black History Month communication and recipe suggestion and we are truly sorry if anyone was offended” counts as an apology. I’ve sent similar feedback when they had a man as a keynote sponsor at the Women’s Employee Forum and when they sent alcohol to people’s houses without regard to recovery, religion, or health considerations, so they are tone-deaf and signal blind in multiple areas.

As a cis-het white woman who tries to be a good ally, I can’t imagine how it must’ve felt to be a black employee who received this message. Besides submitting feedback and telling others to submit feedback when inappropriate things show up, what other actions can I take to try and enact change?

That “apology” wasn’t sufficient, and the fact that the email could happen in the first place says there are deep-rooted problems in your company’s culture. If you’re willing to do some organizing (or lend your energy to others who are already leading), it sounds badly needed.

You’re at an F100 company, which means it’s large. Do you have an office that works on equity and inclusion, or employee resource groups that tackle race or equity issues? If so, start with them and ask how to help. If you don’t (or even if you do), it’s worth looking at how your company handles issues of equity and inclusion in general (badly, it sounds like), what kinds of experiences people of color are having there, how any DEI programs are working or not working, what holes you see in those programs, and what commitments your company has made to DEI and whether they’re meeting those. Consider seeking out colleagues who share your concerns to form a racial equity working group to start tackling some of those issues if one doesn’t already exist. There’s some advice here from DEI expert Michelle Silverthorn on getting started.

2. I’m quitting at a terrible time

I’m an admin for a large company where my two bosses are husband and wife. I’ve been here for two years and besides some small dysfunctions, I think we have a great working relationship. Sometimes the lines blur since I do a lot of personal tasks for them, but I don’t mind and, until now, I saw it as a way to solidify my contributions to them. I have been told many times by them, leadership, and others that I contribute a huge improvement in the quality of life for our employees.

I recently put in my notice for a new job in a completely different industry. I think they were fairly blindsided. The husband has been playing it cool, but the wife has not been coping well emotionally. I’ve heard from others that she’s been openly panicking about me leaving.

Last week, we got devastating news that the wife’s parent passed away. She’s out of town and naturally unable to wrap up loose ends with me. This is a life-changing moment and will drastically affect her capability to work as much as she does at the company. Husband also has limited capacity since he has to watch their kids.

I feel terrible. I’m leaving this week. She was personally organizing a going-away party for me. Do I ask the new job if I could extend my start date? Do I offer to help out after-hours? Or do I just swallow my guilt and wish them the best? I know logically this isn’t something that I should have to worry about, it’s no longer my problem. But I have grown to know this family quite a bit and vice versa. I was getting ready for the both of us to cry on my last day, so I feel like this is just kicking them while they’re down.

This is awful timing indeed, but this stuff happens around resignations. If the relationship is as good as you feel it is, they won’t expect you to change your departure date or jeopardize things with your new job; they’ll understand sometimes the timing on departures just ends up being bad. I wouldn’t recommend trying to push back your start date with the new job; your new team has been planning around you starting on a specific date and likely have other people’s schedules for training, etc. organized around it. I don’t recommend offering to help out after-hours either; you need your attention to be focused on your new job to make a good impression there. New jobs are exhausting and working extra hours at an old job won’t set you up well.

If you’d like, though, you can offer to do a phone call or meeting once your old boss is back to go over the transition things that you had planned to meet about this week. And you can stay in touch socially too if you want to; for example, you could plan to get lunch after she’s been back for a bit to say the goodbye you were planning to say this week. But it’s okay to keep moving forward with the plans you already have in place to move on to your new job.

3. Employer wants to know why I dropped out of their interview process

I recently had a first-round Zoom interview for a junior level communications position. Within the first 10 minutes, I felt like I was struggling to answer the questions, and the organization just didn’t feel like a fit. The place seems like an extremely fast-paced, high-pressure work environment. I know from my current position that the field involves a lot of rapid response, and I appreciate challenges and opportunities for growth. However, I think the kind of environment at this new organization might be bad for my health (I have chronic fatigue and hypothyroidism, which can be aggravated when I overwork myself.) In addition, when I asked my interviewers, “What do you find most satisfying and most challenging about working at X?” it seemed like they both evaded the second part of the question. In job interviews I have had with other places lately, interviewers have been able to answer both parts of that question and give me more insight into their organizations’ workings and cultures.

Right afterwards, I followed up with a polite thank-you email. 50 minutes later, they emailed me back asking to schedule a skills test within a 48-hour period starting “tonight” or “tomorrow morning.” After talking to a mentor, I decided I didn’t want to move forward with the hiring process and sent another email letting them know. An hour later, they emailed me back saying that they had been looking forward to advancing me in the process, wondering if I could help them understand my decision, and wanting to schedule a phone call on Monday morning to talk through any concerns I had about the role or process.

What is the etiquette in a situation like this? What would you recommend saying in response, and am I obligated to say anything at all? Is this a normal thing for an employer to ask?

It sounds like they thought you were a strong candidate based on what they knew so far and were excited about moving you forward in their process. It’s not unheard of or weird for employers to ask for feedback from candidates who drop out, both so that they can address any concerns that might be addressable and so they have data on what’s turning candidates off. It is surprisingly intense for them to phrase it as “help us understand your decision” (this isn’t a break-up!) and ask for a whole separate phone call to discuss it. You are either a really impressive candidate who they’re hoping to woo back, or they’re having a terrible time hiring right now so they’re acting increasingly desperate (definitely possible). Or both! Or they’re a weirdly intense place to work and they do this to everyone, who knows.

It’s fine for you to decline the call and just say something vague like, “Right now I have other roles I’m focusing on, but best of luck filling the position!” (Which is the candidate version of what employers tell applicants all the time.) Or if you’re comfortable offering something specific, you can do that too but you’re in no way obligated to (just as they’re not obligated to give specific feedback to candidates, although it’s fine for candidates to ask).

4. I’m expecting a job offer — should I cancel my other interviews?

I’m a college student graduating this spring who’s planning to be a lab research assistant for a few years before moving on to grad school. I’ve been interviewing and at the end of last week I received an unofficial offer. It was just an email from the scientist who interviewed me saying that they would like to extend me an offer and that HR would reach out sometime this week with the official offer letter.

I plan to take the job. The work is interesting, at a prestigious institution, and it will be great prep for grad school. I don’t expect anything in the offer letter to be surprising — salaries for these kinds of positions in my area are pretty fixed and my interviewer already suggested a start date of a few weeks after my graduation — or for the offer to be rescinded. Everything about the lab has been trustworthy.

The problem is that I have other interviews at different labs scheduled for this week and I’m still waiting for the offer letter from HR. I already cancelled another interview due to take place today that was at the same institution on the advice of my college’s career center. I have two others taking place at different institutions later in the week that I haven’t cancelled yet.

While I don’t want to seem like I’m not interested in the job offer by keeping these interviews (people talk), I also know I shouldn’t cancel anything until I have the official job offer in hand. What do you suggest I do? I would think asking HR to send me the letter as soon as they can would be seen as impertinent.

Your school career center advised you to cancel an interview on the promise of an offer? Aggghh.

Don’t cancel any interviews until you have the formal offer and have accepted it. Offers fall through all the time! That doesn’t mean yours will, but it means yours can and you’ve got to assume it’s a possibility until proven otherwise. Moreover, you never know what will turn up in a formal offer; despite your discussions with the interviewer, there could be something weird in there that you didn’t expect (not just salary, but title or benefits or the hours or a far-off start date or who knows what). I know it feels weird to keep going on interviews while you’re waiting on an offer that you feel sure about, but until you have the offer in hand, you don’t really have an offer. Don’t cancel any more of your interviews!

5. Using examples in interviews from jobs that aren’t on my resume

I’m in the beginning stages of applying to new jobs and as I’m preparing my resume and working on interview skills, I’m wondering if it looks bad to use an example from a job that I didn’t list on my resume in an interview. I’ve had a lot of random part-time jobs over the last 10 years that just don’t make sense to fill up my resume with. I try to thoughtfully narrow it down to work history that’s most relevant, but sometimes I realize that I could give a better example for a scenario from a job that didn’t make the cut. Can I just explain in the moment what the job was and use the example or do I need to limit myself to exactly what’s on the resume?

No, you can use an example from something that’s not on your resume. Just give a quick explanation — “it’s not on my resume, but I had a part-time job making rice sculptures and…” (And you don’t even need to do that in every situation. If you’re just answering a question about dealing with a difficult coworker and the job itself won’t be relevant, you might not even need to lead with that explanation … just be ready to give it if asked or if it starts to feel relevant.)

{ 452 comments… read them below }

  1. Fran Fine*

    That “apology” wasn’t sufficient, and the fact that the email could happen in the first place says there are deep-rooted problems in your company’s culture.

    This is the understatement of the year. Good lord…

    1. tessa*

      Exactly. Still picking up my jaw from the floor on this one. Good for the LW to stand up, immediately, strongly, and publicly, to object to such horrific cluelessness. Also, the “we are truly sorry if anyone was offended” line just makes me want to scream.

        1. NervousHoolelya*

          Linda Holmes, who does the Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR, calls it an “onomatopology: It’s not an apology, but it makes apology noises.” I love that.

          1. NoiShin*

            That’s an incredible turn of phrase, and I’m going to have to remember that one. Sounds better than “non-apology”.

      1. Worldwalker*

        That’s the textbook example of a non-apology right there.

        Not “we’re sorry we did this thing” but “we’re sorry you reacted to what we did.” Biiiig difference.

        And the level of tone-deafness, cluelessness, and general WTFery here boggles the mind. Why did they even think that sending a recipe of any sort would be a good idea in the first place, let alone picking the single most inappropriate recipe they could possibly choose? I guess they could have suggested watermelon for dessert, but that’s about the only way they could have made it worse.

        I may be a pessimist, but I think these people are beyond hope.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Agreed. I can’t put this down to ignorance on the sender’s part because if she didn’t know about this stereotype, why on earth would she include a recipe at all?

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            And include the “by the way, white people invented it so you can’t be mad” link. The sender knew what she was doing.

            1. Anonymous4*

              So the big point about the fried chicken was supposed to be that it originated in Scotland, which is a big stinky load of who-gives-a-flip.

              If the point is that it was first documented as being made in Scotland, why didn’t she write, “It’s Black History Month, so here’s a recipe for haggis! From Scotland!” Haggis definitely originated in Scotland, and it’s actually not bad. Probably better than deep-fried chicken with no seasoning on it.

    2. Need More Sunshine*

      We got a similar apology from my previous company last year when they reviewed a new state law that says employers cannot discriminate based on hair styles when hiring. They had used a picture of a Komondor dog – you know, the one with fur that forms into dreadlocks. Instead of using photos of actual human beings!

      We were HR consultants. This was an external call with clients. They got push back from both internal employees watching the call AND clients, but it was SO disappointing that they did it in the first place!

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Ugghhh I can only assume they were trying not to “other” any one style of hair in the picture, but that’s why you use a picture of a diverse group or just no picture at all!! (I am sure my company would have put a smiling woman with dreadlocks which would have also been bad for other reasons).

        1. Need More Sunshine*

          Yep, this was their explanation, that they didn’t want to single out POC, but they could easily have had a stock photo of people of varying backgrounds or just text on the screen. It was great to see the outrage in the live chat, though.

        2. quill*

          Honestly they could have just found a stock photo of a lot of people of varying races with varying hair types…

        1. Anonymous4*

          Oh, I got words! I got LOTSA words! They’re not good words, and they can’t be printed in a family newspaper, but I got some words, all right! I’m just sorry I can’t address them to the people who thought it would be okay to show a DOG when discussing dreads.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        This seems like a good example of John Scalzi’s theory on “the failure mode of clever.” I’m sure that company was trying to be funny, not offensive—but oh, boy, did they fail.

        1. Caliente*

          Not sure how it would be played as funny?
          It’s black history month- I know, let’s send a fried chicken recipe? Hmmm

          1. Aitch Arr*

            I think LH Puttgrass was referring to the above situation relayed by Need More Sunshine, not the OP.

    3. Rolly*

      It’s the culture, but presumably the culture reflects the people. These kinds of mistakes happen less often when organizations are diverse and inclusive at all levels – from front-line to leadership. Yes, we should all try to be aware of this sort of stuff, but real substantive inclusion is important.

      That said, fried chicken OMG how stupid how stupid how stupidly ignorant (at best). JFC.

    4. quill*

      We made it SLIGHTLY over halfway through february without hearing about an extremely insentistive black history event.

      My condolences to everyone who braces for february (and people’s attempts to be “inclusive” that are anything but) the way I do for June.

    5. OhBehave*

      Yes. I read the headline and laughed. I laughed because I couldn’t imagine a company being so tone-deaf as to think this was ok! Alas, this blog proves me wrong yet again. sigh

  2. OP 1*

    It issued worth noting that supposedly this email came from an ERG. But given that during my visits to our two primary office buildings (one per coast both in primarily white areas) I saw only a handful of black employees, I’m not sure how many employees in this ERG are black. Our senior management and executive team is also primarily white men, one token woman shows on the website, this feels insurmountable as a cog in a very large machine

    1. Loulou*

      What does this mean? (I googled ERG and know the definition and what it stands for, but I don’t understand who you are saying sent this email or why it might matter)

      1. OP 1*

        The email came from corporate communications but was supposedly compiled by members of the employee resource group for black (and possibly POC – the name isn’t clear) employees.

          1. Fran Fine*

            To clarify – I doubt anyone black was involved with this mess. But even if I’m wrong, this would still be completely unacceptable.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Oh come on Fran, someone who had a Black friend once is just about the same a someone Black aren’t they? And there is one person from Micronesia on the committee who is darker skinned, so close enough right?

              This all makes me very salty because many of the stakeholders I work with are Black community organizations who are more than happy to plan/conduct Black History Month events/outreach with corporate DEI groups for a reasonable fee. My office has been doing one where we get emails about Black history in each city we have an office, including resources to learn more, walking/driving tours, groups to volunteer with/donate to, etc.. It is amazing

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                The Org I work for has been sending out a biography a day of African Americans who made major contributions to our field (medical). They do the same for any “month” as it comes up. Not perfect, but worlds better than a fried chicken recipe.

                1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                  See, that is an easy, low cost way to do it. Sure it isn’t perfect and it isn’t solving all the things, but it is respectful and educational.

                  I’m lucky in that my org takes DEI quite seriously and puts some $$ behind each history month. Last year we contracted with the local university’s African American Studies department to do weekly Zoom lectures on the history of anti-Blackness in social services (my org’s focus) and it was incredible. I learned so much and some about how to work around the structural racism baked into the system we use every day.

            2. CaliUKexpat*

              Or if they were, it’s possible they were the one black person in the group and got steamrolled by the rest of the white folks saying it’s “obviously not racist because (insert prejudiced idea here)”. I grew up in a very pasty “colourblind” place and that’s the sort of thing that looking back, definitely would have happened there. Saw it happen a few times in high school too.

            3. Observer*

              To clarify – I doubt anyone black was involved with this mess.

              I suspect that you are right, but also wrong. Right that no black person signed on to this. Wrong in that I’m betting that someone in Comms DID TRY to get the (token) Black employees to sign on , but then ignored the “you’re kidding? Right?” reaction they got.

          2. EPLawyer*

            I am betting the black resource group has about the same composition as the key note speaker for the Women Employee event.

            Once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern.

            OP your company is not going to change. They DO NOT CARE. You can ask your colleagues if they want you to fight. but I think everyone will just exhaust themselves. So fight with your feet. Get the hell out of there. Don’t just quit but start job hunting.

            1. Anomalez*

              This. You cannot change a company from the bottom up. The leadership either values diversity (not just lip service – they are clued in enough to have actual Black people write or at least proofread a Black History Month email) or they don’t. They clearly don’t.

        1. Fikly*

          It is sadly incredibly common, particularly in large companies, for the ERGs to not actually be majority made up of the people they claim to represent. So it could definitely have come from an ERG for black or POC employees but in no way be condoned by actual black or POC employees.

          An ERG is basically a way for a company to look like it supports any given group without having to actually, you know, support them.

          1. Xena*

            Sometimes companies don’t have enough people for an ERG or BRG that covers the area they would like it to, but even in that case it’s still doable to have a good group if the leadership/direction of the group is set by the members of the given group and other, non-member employees act in the position of supportive allies. But that requires thoughtful effort.

              1. Irish girl*

                Business Resource Group or Employee Resource Group. My company has a ton of them like a Women specific one, one for new in career professional plus the more cultural specific ones.

            1. I'm just here for the cats*

              I don’t think that that is the problem being it is a fortune 100 company with multiple offices. If it is the case that there’s not enough people to represent that’s because they are not hiring enough POC

          2. Nikki*

            My company frequently talks about its women’s ERG… but doesn’t offer equal maternity leave and paternity / adoptive parent leave. The maternity leave is minimal, too (<12 weeks paid). I spoke to HR about it last year, they said a group of executives were “already looking into it”… and this years benefits came out with no changes.

            I’m not really interested in lip service ERGs. Either the company is doing major, tangible things to benefit employees of the group or stop bragging about your ERG!

            1. Anonymous4*

              Yes, I’m familiar with the process of “looking into” something like that.

              A C-suite meeting, going down the agenda, coming to the bullet point about maternity leave. Exec A: “So, what’s our policy on this?” HR: “8 weeks paid, and the person can take up to (pick a number) weeks of unpaid leave.” Exec B: “Pretty standard, isn’t it?” HR nods. The meeting organizer: “Any thoughts? Okay, let’s move on.”

              Boy howdy, that’s some “looking into it” right there, you betcha!

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Given what you’ve said regarding their other ‘diversity’ stuff (yeah let’s have men lecture women’s groups that’s a great idea…) I think it’s more likely any resource group has a few token members who get shouted over by a bunch of white cis men.

          Yeah I’m salty about this.

          That apology was no apology. ‘I’m sorry if anyone got offended’ isn’t an apology and there’s no mention of not repeating the actions later. I’m not even in the us and I’m furious (context: am WOC ) at what they’ve done.

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            “I’m sorry if anyone got offended” is the opposite of an apology, and is notoriously used by people/organizations who were being pretty deliberately offensive.

              1. Maggie*

                Last job I worked for a company where most American’s have at least one of their products in your home.. we had something similar happen. Our (corporate) campus chef would routinely send out offensive “theme” menu’s for MLK day, Cinco de mayo etc.

            1. Ayla*

              “I’m sorry that YOU ruined this perfectly pleasant interaction we were having by turning it into a racial thing!”

              Quoth the definitely-not-trolling people who sent the original email out despite presumably having existed in this century just like the rest of us.

          2. Slow Gin Lizz*

            I took a job in the political arena in 2017 and not long after I started some national group scheduled a conference about women in politics and announced the event’s keynote speaker: Bernie Sanders. To say there was blowback about that is an understatement. People can be sooooooo clueless. (And it was only a few days later that the group announced a change in the speaker; can’t even remember who they eventually went with but it definitely wasn’t a man.)

            In this case, I doubt whoever came up with this email was clueless; I don’t think it’s possible to know that fried chicken has connections to the Black community without knowing that it also has problematic ties with racism.

            1. Observer*

              Bernie Sanders. To say there was blowback about that is an understatement. People can be sooooooo clueless.

              Bernie Sanders? No, that’s not clueless. That DOES say a lot about the bad faith of the organizers.

            2. M*

              One of the state branches of Australia’s governing party tried to host their International Women’s Day event in a men-only members club. In 2015.

              I mean, they were and are pretty awfully regressive on gender issues, and defended the decision with a lot of “but why can’t men have nice things?” type statements, so definitely not clueless. But it’s always remarkable what people think will fly.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*


              It’s not hard to not send out bigotry. Even the firm I work for (which is a very old industry still largely white guy dominated) managed to get a good decent ‘black men and women in engineering/science’ speak together along with resources for financial help for those POC who want to study science or engineering.

              (We’re an engineering firm btw)

        3. Rolly*

          “The email came from corporate communications but was supposedly compiled by members of the employee resource group for black (and possibly POC – the name isn’t clear) employees.”

          LOL ….. I seriously doubt that.

          If they’re now lying about their ignorance, it’s even worse than I thought.

    2. The Dogman*

      This is a really weird one…

      I mean fried chicken probably was a Scottish dish first, but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of US based racists use fried chicken to insult black people does it?

      And why give a recipe out for any reason on any special day/week/month? This is a also pretty weird, does your company send recipes out for other events/days etc?

      But don’t be disheartened, those people are dying off now, so change at the top of corporations is happening, it will just take longer cos there is so much less job mobility at those levels.

      1. Yes Anastasia*

        “Those people are dying off now” – unfortunately, there are plenty of young people with racist attitudes. We can’t just wait for demographics to fix our problems, we have to do the work to be actively antiracist. Hence the advice to organize.

        1. Me*

          100%. Racists have children and pass along their views. While things have changed with time, it’s not because people have simply sat around waiting for things to change.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            Yup. My kid is in junior high with the kids and grandkids of those racists. They are no better.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Exactly. The member of my profession who did a very public racism on social media this week isn’t of an age where “the racists are dying off” would apply. We can’t rely on that. We have to push back every time we see it. (And by we, I mean white people. Racism is a white people problem, we should be the ones on the front lines fighting it.)

          1. Mokona*

            I completely agree about needing to push back everytime we witness racism, but racism is not a white person problem only. It’s a human problem where we just love to discriminate against others. As a mixed race individual who lives in an area with lots of diversity, I have witnessed racism from white and non-white individuals many times. Disturbingly enough I’ve been hearing “small” racist comments/”jokes” from the youth I volunteer with lately and it is discouraging to have to keep explaining why it is harmful and inappropriate. I faced racism growing up but always assumed it was because I grew up in a rural white community. These kids have diverse backgrounds and attend schools with lots of diversity and yet…

            1. new*

              I recommend Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” for an illustration of this, there is one scene in particular that shows how every group shows disrespect for the others. The thing is though, as a black person, we can’t establish institutional racism against white people or anyone else. All we can do is insult them, which is not good but is a long way from the horror my people have suffered because of virulent racism.

              That said, if I had received this fried chicken recipe, boy oh boy. No excuse for this level of tone-deafness. Besides, white people love fried chicken too and Korean fried chicken wings are some of the best!

            2. Elle*

              I think the intent of calling racism a white person problem was not to deny that other groups can be racist but to push back on the frequent pressure on POC to educate white racists on why their views are racist and incorrect. If a white person is being racist, which seems to be the case at this company, the responsibility rests on the white employees to challenge them, not the black employees who are being harmed but likely won’t be listened to by the person who thinks this email is appropriate.

          1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

            Not least because there are a number of older white people who have taken on the challenge of learning more about race and becoming better allies. It is possible, and indeed important, to learn and become a better person at any age.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Joining the chorus on “no, they are not dying off”. How can they be dying off when there are entire new generations growing up in all-white suburbs, that their parents and grandparents escaped to because they felt they needed to live in an all-white suburb? Entire neighborhoods full of people who have never seen anyone with a skin color other than white up close, and have been taught not to trust them.

          Additionally, those in power (politically and economically) benefit directly from the rest of us being segregated and distrustful of/isolated from everyone who does not look or talk like them. Those attitudes will not ever be dying off unless we help them do so.

      2. The Original K.*

        I can think of several high-profile recent hate crimes committed by young white men. Racism isn’t going anywhere.

        1. UKDancer*

          Hatred and bigotry has always existed and while it’s better than it was, it’s still a problem and an issue so I don’t think we can assume that it’s a problem with the old and not the young.

          1. londonedit*

            You say it’s better than it was, but in 35 years of being a football fan I’ve never seen racism and crowd trouble like I’ve seen in the last year. It makes me extremely angry and very sad because we as a sport have spent decades trying to drag football’s reputation out of the mire and yet there are people who seem determined to shove it back in there.

            1. Laura Petrie*

              I agree. I see a lot more ‘casual’ use of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic etc language from younger people now. Not just at football matches but across social media and out and about in public. The ‘woke snowflake’ narrative seems to embolden them further.

              1. Littorally*

                Not to say it at all. Racism is not an exclusive trait of the elderly, and letting an “undesirable” group of people die does not result in the betterment of society. The whole concept is top to bottom fucked up.

      3. ecnaseener*

        If you’ve never witnessed or experienced racism from a young person, consider yourself extraordinarily lucky.

      4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Oh how I wish that were true. Unfortunately the last 2 years has shown me at least that bigotry in all forms is still very much a thing with all ages – including the youthful.

        1. tessa*

          Yeah, I mean look at all the disaffected youth who are aligning themselves with hate groups. Propaganda works, and the WWW has made it more robust and accessible than ever before.

          It’s quite frightening to me.

      5. Caliente*

        Dying off?? These people indoctrinate their children into this bs. It’s the family way for many, do not get it twisted. Even people in relationships with poc can be racist.

      6. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        “Those people are dying off now” I was born in the early 70’s and grew up believing that. But the 4 years under the last president saw racism creep out from under its rock and think it could just act up all over the place. I’ve seen more racism in the last 5 years then I did in my entire previous life. (except the few weeks as a kid that I got dragged to Texas to visit relatives. OMG that place was eye opening on racism being alive and unfortunately thriving. Early to mid 80’s I’m thinking) Kudos to OP for immediately pushing back.

      7. GDUB*

        I don’t see any signs of racism dying out. I don’t think younger people are familiar with the racist fried-chicken-and-watermelon trope, but don’t worry. They make news ones.

      8. Squidlet*

        “Those people” are dying off? Do you mean the bigots? Given that they’ve been around for hundreds, no, thousands of years, I don’t think so.

        Also, “old person” ≠ “bigot”.

      9. Artemesia*

        I have been retired for over 10 years and I didn’t retire till I was 67 — and I came of age during the civil rights movement. Old Corporate types are younger than I am — they are not people who grew up in the 40s and 50s when ‘that was the way it was’ — they are people who were children during the civil rights movement. There is no acceptable excuse for today’s corporate management to ‘not understand’ that sending out a fried chicken recipe for Black History Month is offensive.

      10. TootsNYC*

        also: a recipe?

        this is Black HISTORY Month.
        Way to diminish the cause. As if that’s the extend of Black people’s contribution to our culture or our history.
        “History? Oh, here’s a recipe you can cook.”

      11. Broadway Duchess*

        I mean fried chicken probably was a Scottish dish first…

        Perhaps, but I’m not sure how relevant that is since,

        that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of US based racists use fried chicken to insult black people

        But don’t be disheartened, those people are dying off…

        I am disheartened. They are dying, yes. But before they do, they have careers where they hire and fire, they sit on boards, they teach in schools, and they have children to whom they pass along this garbage. It’s not going anywhere.

      12. jumped all the sharks*

        They may be dying off but they have weaponized their children via schoolboard takeovers and prohibitions against teaching about racism/misogyny/homophobia/etc. America will be defusing these human land mines for decades unless we take back our public schools.

      13. marvin*

        I mean, racism wasn’t invented by the generation that is currently elderly. If generational change was all it took to defeat racism, it would have died out centuries ago. Racism is baked into our economic, social and political institutions and it’s not going anywhere without some serious changes to those institutions.

    3. JSPA*

      It’s on the line between, “how is anyone this clueless” and “intentional aggression / dog whistle.” Sure, it’s possible that the person hitting “send” was merely clueless (or not empowered to change things). But SOMEONE put the idea in motion. I’m aghast that this made it through.

      Send a fried chicken recipe any other month, under any header not invoking race, and it’s pretty neutral. Do it this way, and it’s one of the oldest racist tropes in America.

      And, no, it doesn’t matter that fried chicken is a popular food, regardless of skin tone, and on multiple continents.

      I’d suggest not clicking on the link I will add below, unless you need to talk to HR about a “pointed reference to fried chicken or watermelon incident.”

      1. Dust Bunny*


        I literally don’t know anyone [who eats meat] of any ethnic background who doesn’t like fried chicken or watermelon but you don’t trot those out in a situation like this. OMG.

        1. Rolly*


          If they are that clueless, its’ because they’re in a bubble of their own making. Some small company in a very white town in a very white state – yeah *maybe* it’s innocent cluelessness. But in a major company – no, it’s at best willful cluelessness brought about in part by the team involved being very non-inclusive.

          1. Cercis*

            I grew up in a small, rural, Oklahoma town and was generally pretty sheltered. I remember a conversation in the band room where a couple of boys were teasing another boy about wanting to come to Sunday dinner because they were hungry (“hankering”) for some fried chicken and watermelon. Naive little me said “oh, hey, that’s we had on Sunday, but the watermelons aren’t really in season now so it was sad” and they all laughed and I literally had no idea why. Then about a week later when people were still laughing at (confused) me, a friend took pity on me and pointed out that boy they were joking with was Black and that it was a joke about Black people liking watermelon and fried chicken. I was still confused (as only a 15yo can be) because “but don’t all people like fried chicken and watermelon?”

            My point being, there is no way they didn’t know this was a trope. None.

            (I also didn’t know the term people were using for haggling someone on price until I watched “School Ties”. I honestly thought that people were saying “chewed down”. So I was sheltered to an extreme degree.)

        2. Very Embarassed*

          When I was younger, I did not know that watermelon was a racist trope. At all. I had never seen it and I never heard about it. I lived in a diverse area and went to a diverse-ish school, I think it just wasn’t a thing (or I was oblivious).

          I complained once about a Black woman ahead of me taking all the watermelon from the buffet (because I love it! I wanted some!) and someone pulled me aside and asked me if I knew what I was saying. I was so confused! Thank god they just explained it because the fried chicken/ watermelon thing is a great example of how racism makes people dumb and ruins everything.

          Anyone who is writing an email about Black History Month and fried chicken is a racist. That’s not something that someone who doesn’t understand would say. That was deliberate and it deserved a strong apology and a firing.

          1. Very Embarrassed*

            Also I knew the woman ahead of me who was a work friend so I wasn’t complaining about a general Black woman, I was saying something like “ugh can you believe Sansa took all the watermelon! Why is she taking it all?!”

            To this day I’m mortified and would never ever connect a Black person to those two foods ever in any context so I really don’t have sympathy for the person who sent that email.

      2. Data Analyst*

        Totally. Like, the “best” case is someone thinking, “hey, I think this group of people has a reputation for enjoying this food!” But even then, anybody involved in sending out something like this should know that is a BAD justification for picking content in this kind of message.

    4. Pants*

      Send that initial and “apology” email to your personal email address. You may need the backup, but it’s also a good reminder of how poorly this company handled this. Should anything happen, you’ve got the backup to prove that they suck. If necessary, you can name and shame. I’m not saying you should, but recently, having the company communication backup has forced companies to reckon with their own crappiness when those communications suddenly find their way to the public stage. Keep it in your back pocket. It’s a snippet of insurance.

    5. addiez*

      I used to work on my company’s D&I team – based on my experience, the people who are on those teams get it and are doing the work BUT they rely on (flawed) volunteers. Clearly the ERG leads at your company are in that flawed category. Our dream was someone like you – someone totally disconnected from our work who is still willing to champion it. Of course, you can leave, but I’d encourage you to reach out to the team who’s employed to do this work as I’m sure they’re heartbroken/appalled and offer to join them and see where you can help. Having people across the company embedded in the business can be incredibly helpful.

      1. Observer*

        The thing is that clearly, either people like you are not at this company, or they are totally dis-empowered. What the OP describes is not something that can really be ascribed to cluelessnes by itself. And it’s part of a pattern of almost aggressive disrespect of anyone outside of a very narrow demographic.

        I do think that if the OP wants to make the effort she could talk to the people who are supposed to be doing the BEI work in the organization. But it’s hard to believe that she’s going to get very far.

        OP, if I’m wrong I would LOVE to hear it. We could all use some good news.

    6. Van Wilder*

      The Professional Women’s Network in my office once sent an email that they were hosting a *bake sale* to raise money for *MEN’S health month.*
      That was the worst ERG email I’ve ever seen… until now.

      1. Observer*

        Was this email perhaps sent out on April 1st?

        Because that’s the only day I could see this being kinds-sorta appropriate.

        1. Van Wilder*

          No, November :)

          Oh, and this was in the NYC office of a very large company. Not like the Prince Family Paper outfit in Scranton.

    7. MansplainerHater*

      And I thought it was bad when my former company had French food for Diversity Week (brie and baguettes).

      1. Anon for this*

        I thought it was bad that my employer sends out trivia questions about Black history during Black History month, and raffles off prizes for those who give the right answers. But that is actually not all bad compared to OP’s or other examples I’m seeing in this thread. Wow!

        Like, truly, I don’t get it – in a large corporation, isn’t there a long and complex bureaucratic process and multiple levels of manager approvals and sign-offs required on, oh, everything? How did these horrible ideas make it all the way to implementation? Didn’t a lot of people have to agree to them in writing in order for that to happen?

    8. PT*

      Save screenshots (or just take a photo of your computer screen to keep the data off company servers), photoshop out your contact address, send them to the media.

    9. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      If they don’t have a lot of BIPOC employees, or the ones they have aren’t interested in participating in the ERG… this is why. With tone-deaf communications that perpetuate harmful stereotypes, they’re turning off their existing BIPOC employees and I would not be surprised if such people were fleeing in droves, given the opportunities that are out there right now.

      Even if the company can’t be persuaded to take on a significant DEI culture change because it’s the right thing to do, they need to realize that the lack of real respect and opportunity are harming their reputation with current and prospective employees, and with customers as well.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It’s a Fortune 100 company. So it’s probably pretty big. Either they have few BIPOC employees (which is a very big problem) or they’re just not listening to the ones they have (which is a different very big problem).

    10. TDY*

      Honestly, this is wild enough that you could submit anonymously to local news. I’m not saying that will fix anything but if enough people face social consequences, they at least might think twice before hitting send.

      1. M*

        Local? It’s an F100 company, and they doubled down in the follow-up. Plenty of highly regarded national outlets would bite.

  3. Marnix*

    The “diversity attempt” with a fried chicken recipe — I’m almost speechless.
    The tone-deafness of it plus the “apology” is appalling.
    Good on you for your feedback and perhaps future work with DEI.

    1. Just delurking to say...*

      Could some kind American give a bit of background on #1 for the international audience? Clearly there’s a problematic association going on here, but … I don’t know what it is.

      1. OP 1*

        Google fried chicken and racism or any variation there of, a ton of things will come up. It was a big deal on the news 20 years ago when Tiger Woods was slated to win the Masters and another golfer commented about how the menu would be fried chicken if Tiger won.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Am also not in the US but I don’t think there’s a comparable offensive comment regarding POC and food stuffs in my country at all.

        It’s a stereotype of ‘people of colour only eat these things’ with a ton of history and nastiness behind it and never should be within a corporate workplace.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Sort of, but with a background of slavery attached. Although I think some politicians in the UK have made the watermelon comment before.

          2. Heather*

            The UK equivalent is probably people complaining that Asian/African food is stinky/slimy/gross, and then conflating the entire Indian subcontinent’s dishes into “curry” and treating being able to eat it as an endurance test on a Friday night after the pubs close. The staff of those restaurants have to tread super carefully (that is, play subservient) with their drunk rugby players who are insisting on eating vindaloo.

            Imagine if we then also had a white woman get famous for her “curry” and it’s flavourless and not rooted in any regional tradition. (That happened, but I can’t remember who it was, or where it was. Something on Instagram, IIRC)

            A lot of Southern cooking is based on the recipes slaves and their descendants came up with. But most of the TV chefs are white, and they don’t flavour it properly. There was one recipe that won some competition, and it turned to be chicken with salt and pepper. There’s a clip of Oprah trying to keep her composure while tasting it.

            There are extra layers to the fried chicken association, too. But I have ranted enough for someone not even American, never mind black

            1. running from academia*

              “Imagine if we then also had a white woman get famous for her “curry” and it’s flavourless and not rooted in any regional tradition. (That happened, but I can’t remember who it was, or where it was. Something on Instagram, IIRC)”
              You might be referring to #TheStew by Alison Roman – or there’s been more than one incident along these lines!

              1. RabbitRabbit*

                Yup. While meanwhile she sniffed at Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo for being sellouts. She did eventually issue an apology for tearing down women of color in an apparent attempt to make herself feel/look better, but I dunno if she’s done better in the meantime as I haven’t paid attention to her.

            2. Amy*

              Yes and no.

              It has racist associations but it’s also very close to our national dish. It’s definitely not considered “exotic.” It’s something you’d find in a typical “Meal Planning for a 4th of July Party” in magazines and newspapers – fried chicken, apple pie etc. I’d say it’s very close to what fish and chips is in the UK.

              1. Rolly*

                It depends on context.

                Collection of Great American Recipes? Yes.

                Black People Holiday? No *unless* it’s with a thoughtful mix of other foods plus some interesting information about the food, it’s history AND racism.

                It’s not like the N-word – with the right contextualization (not always easy) there is nothing wrong with fried chicken.

                PS: “Here’s a healthy version better than the unhealthy stuff stupid Black people usually eat” takes it to another level in obnoxiousness.

                1. EPLawyer*

                  I caught that part too. “oh you black people need to learn how to make your favorite dish in a health way so you don’t get all fat and get diabetes.”

                  NO ONE thought “hmmm maybe we could do something else for Black History Month, even recycle that ONE quote of MLK?”

          3. LifeBeforeCorona*

            Or the stereotype of Chinese food and cats. As an aside, I’m a middle-aged Black woman who loves Thai cuisine. I know enough about it that when I order from my favourite place, the cook always gives me extra because I’m there almost every week. This may be a good weekend free for all, how did you discover food that was never served in your culture and that you came to love. Break down those barriers one Tom Yum Goong at a time.

            1. Spicy Tuna*

              “This may be a good weekend free for all, how did you discover food that was never served in your culture and that you came to love” – great idea! Food is a great way to connect!

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        There’s very much an old-timey jokey racist theme around American Black people just loving fried chicken and watermelon.

        Fried chicken is popular among Americans in general, but Black people get singled out for it, same for watermelon, and unfortunately during the Jim Crow era in the US, travel could be difficult or dangerous for Black people through parts of the US, to the point that a travel guide (called the Green Book) was published to help plot out the safer routes/places to stop. As such, foods that could travel well (including fried chicken and biscuits) were often packed for trips rather than risk having to stop for meals in inhospitable areas.

        1. Rolly*


          Imagine this positioning of the recipe: actually sharing with information about it’s history that you just wrote. That would be edgy and might backfire with some audiences, but it would be thoughtful – not just trafficking in stereotypes. I’m not sure I’d risk trying to pull that off, but it would interesting to write it up.

          The history, a statement that it’s an all-American dish too!, and then the recipe at the end.

      4. JSPA*

        Any description that brings in how fried chicken is connected to all of the other really broad, explicitly racist stereotypes of the past few centuries is going to use a bunch of demeaning images, concepts, terms and characterizations. I stuck a good link above, so the nastiness can stay off this site. Check back for when it gets past moderation, or google, [Agabond fried chicken stereotype] for that wordpress page.

      5. BethDH*

        To add to all the more significant parts people have already explained, there’s also some regionalism in that that has its own biases and is a little harder to explain. Fried chicken is “southern,” which is also the area associated in people’s minds with slavery.
        So what I’ve seen happen in some non-southern cities is a sort of process where “real blacks” are southern and subject to all the stereotypes about the south (think things about accent and education level if you’re not familiar with US regionalism), and at the same time ignoring the presence and culture of Black people in your own region. It’s a distancing practice that places race and racism far from your own life (see also why they’ll primarily profile people from 40+ years ago).

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I moved to Milwaukee from Memphis and was shocked at how much worse the racism – both personal and systemic – was here. Yet I have heard so many people talk about how racist they are down south. I want to yell at them, “LOOK IN THE MIRROR!”

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I’ve heard this on more than one unrelated occasion, too. Our mailman in Colorado told us he couldn’t wait to retire and move back to Mississippi, which seemed weird at first except that a) he had family there and b) apparently a lot of places in the North treat African-Americans as recent interlopers or novelties, whereas in the South the Black communities are as old as the White ones.

            We have friends who are originally from New England, lived in Houston for 40-ish years, and recently moved back to New England to care for elderly relatives. They haven’t seen a lot of overt racism (they’re White) but they’re weirded out by how overwhelmingly White everything is. Their theory is that it’s easy to tell yourself you’re “not racist” when you don’t interact with non-White people very often.

          2. anne of mean gables*

            See also: Chicago. The segregation is jaw-dropping. Within two L stops, the train goes from 99% black to 99% white. Lots of well-meaning liberal white folks who would happily tell you how anti-racist they are, while asking if it’s “safe” to bike through my neighborhood.

            1. Two Dog Night*

              Chicagoan here, and yup. I think racism shows itself differently in the north and south, but it’s definitely everywhere.

            2. Womanaroundtown*

              I should probably google this to confirm, but I am 90% sure that NYC is either 1 or 2 most segregated city in America (residence-location-wise). And as a lifelong New Yorker, it is very, very obvious based on the subway.

          3. kristinyc*

            I had a similar experience when I moved from Texas (DFW area) to the Louisville area (on the Indiana side of the river) as a teenager. My Texas town/school was super progressive and diverse, and when I moved to southern Indiana – technically right above the Mason-Dixon line, there were kids at my school who had confederate flags on their cars, only one non-white family in the school, and a LOT of alarming behavior/jokes from my classmates. In the early 2000s. It was an awful culture shock. And my parents still seem surprised that I moved to New York as soon as I could and then stayed here. :)

            1. Belle of the Midwest*

              I lived in that same region for 12 years before moving to the Indianapolis region, and YES. it was shocking to me just how much bigotry there was in the 1980s. the county where I lived had NO Black people and it didn’t take long for me to figure out why. It was definitely not just a sundown town, but a “don’t come around at all” town.

        2. kittymommy*

          Having lived a lot of different places in the States it has seemed to me that the more you get out of the South the higher the racist association is between fried chicken and racism. Fried chicken is just so very, very common across race in the south (Sunday fired chicken dinner is A Thing).

          1. Missy*

            The first year I moved to the Southern city where I live there was a black history month event at work that served Fried Chicken. I was, at first, angry. And then I looked at who put the event together to see who to talk to and it was black employees who brought in black speakers to talk about local history and direct actions that we could put into place to help the community. Once I was there for a while and became friends with co-workers I mentioned my initial feelings about the fried chicken thing, only to learn that the place had fried chicken for every similar workplace holiday event. (Thanksgiving, Fourth of July) and they had the option to select something else, but didn’t want to because everyone likes fried chicken and it felt like they were giving the racists a win by changing things to avoid the association. This is, of course, a very different situation from the one in the letter. But it sort of makes key that the problem isn’t necessarily fried chicken, it is the fact that they aren’t having authentic voices speak on these issues.

            1. Lurkyloo*

              And that’s eXACTly how it should be. The community owning the implications and showing others their history and how to respect them.
              I read a quote a while back that said ‘asking a black person how to fight racism is like asking a break in victim how to solve the crime’. Be an ally. Stand up to those little microaggressions (or in this case macroaggressions!!).
              I’d have blasted out a reply-all and asked how anyone thought this was appropriate! (including links to why it’s not)

      6. Ally McBeal*

        Essentially, fried chicken and watermelon were inexpensive and easy to make (aka a low barrier to entry for a small business), so formerly enslaved people grew & sold watermelons at roadside stands, and women would fry chicken and sell it at train stations/bus depots. In a very successful attempt to suppress black people’s ability to make a living, this was widely mocked in cartoons and minstrel shows, and engrained so deeply in racist culture that, to this day, some black people won’t eat those foods in public or other mixed-race spaces.

    2. Allonge*

      I* would say ‘tone-deaf’ is too light a descriptor here. Under the circumstances, this reads as deliberate malice, and it feels like labelling it ‘tone-deaf’ excuses ignorance that is not excusable (in, say, anyone above 10 in the US).

      -I am a white woman born and raised in Europe, so my understanding of this is limited, but still.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I read the headline while sitting in my house located in one of America’s top ten largest cities and my brain exploded. I assure you that your understanding is spot on.

        It is obscene. It mocks the concept of black history month in general and insults their African American employees specifically.

      2. Lab Boss*

        Agreed. At first I read the headline as the company just sent out a fried chicken recipe DURING Black History Month, like a recurring “here’s some tasty recipes” e-mail just happened to have that dish this month. I’d have given that more grace as just someone not noticing how it might look, like that grill company that sent out a meatloaf recipe right after Meat Loaf died. By explicitly making it “Here’s your Black History chicken recipe,” they’ve really eliminated any way to be read as anything other than “Black people sure do love fried chicken, am I right?”

      3. Sylvan*

        I’m a white US Southerner and I wondered if it was a joke for a second. It misses the mark so badly that it can’t be an accident.

    3. Anon today*

      This is appalling but I could see my HR department doing this. They have sent similarly offensive emails that the ERG has had to then educate them on…and then the ERG gets their wrist slapped. And probably the worst part is that senior leadership knows they will probably do it again.

    4. SnappinTerrapin*

      As a Southern white, raised on fried chicken, fried okra, squirrel dumplings, beans, peas and greens with fatback, cracklin bread, grits, melons, and similar foods, it annoys me when bigots assume these foods are “Black foods.”

      However, I am familiar enough with the stereotype NOT to propose including these foods in celebration of any DEI event. An American would have to be extremely out of touch not to recognize how it’s going to land.

      I can see how an outsider could wonder about this American quirk, but there is no excuse for an American to stumble over this.

  4. staceyizme*

    Yikes, OP#1! How hard is it to avoid actively offending? You’ve got a troll on your hands. There’s no way that this didn’t with malicious intent. It’s pretty toxic and I hope that you are able to make headway on getting your point across.

    1. 1LFTW*

      >You’ve got a troll on your hands.

      They’re not even doing a great job of pretending otherwise, are they? It’s not just they’re “honoring” Black History Month by sharing a recipe for a food that’s a problematic stereotype. They couldn’t help adding a link to an article that says “well, ACKSHUALLY, that food was invented by white people”.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Yeah that part made no fricken sense. “We’re sharing a scottish recipe to celebrate black history month!”. What?! That’s not the totally-not-racist explanation they were hoping. It’s just doubling down on the offensiveness at that point.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Also, chickens were domesticated by the Polynesians, and I’m willing to bet frying them occurred to everyone raising chickens.

          I realize that’s not the main point here, but their Scottish fried chicken stuff doesn’t even make sense. This is what you get from doing all your food research on Uncle Fred’s Page of Crazy Facebook Conspiracy Theories.

          1. londonedit*

            I doubt there was any malicious or racist intent in the article itself – it’s a BBC article and I’m pretty sure it would have originally been intended as another example of stereotypically American things that were actually (supposedly) invented in Britain. That’s a fairly common topic here – ‘Hey, you know that thing that everyone thinks is super American? We did it first!’ Like how there’s a whole massive argument between Australia and New Zealand about which country invented pavlova. Also fried chicken doesn’t have the immediate associations here that it sounds like it does in the US – it might be associated with low-income areas in the UK, but not immediately and specifically with racism against black people.

            All of that is not to excuse the sending of the recipe, which was beyond tone-deaf given the demographics involved. But just to give some context around the specific article itself. I can only imagine that in the back of the HR person’s head there was some sort of vaguely distant ‘maybe this recipe isn’t an OK thing to send out at this juncture’ bell ringing, but rather than deciding not to send the recipe at all, they for some reason went with ‘Oh but hey, if I send this article then it actually explains that fried chicken has nothing to do with black people, so it definitely wasn’t racist to send the recipe round!’ As I said, none of that excuses it. But it’s the only possible explanation I can think of.

            1. Observer*

              The problem is not that the article exists. Without seeing it, I can see a half a dozen different non-racist ways that it could exist. But, SENDING IT, in THIS particular context – as part of “celebrating” Black History Month with a recipe of a stereotypical “Black Recipe” linked to racism? That’s gross. It’s almost like someone is saying “And if you think we REALLY want to give you credit for popularizing a tasty food, well… You don’t even deserve that bit of credit.”

              1. Clisby*

                This. I grew up in (and currently live in the South), and it’s not that fried chicken is immediately associated with black people – it’s extremely popular among all kinds of people in the South. So, if a Southern company had a potluck and someone brought fried chicken, nobody in their right mind would see that as a racist trope. It’s the coupling of this recipe with a Black History Month message that accomplishes that.

          2. quill*

            If you have oil and excess roosters, you make fried chicken.
            If you have water and excess roosters, you make chicken soup.

            1. jumped all the sharks*

              Young cockerels make decent fryers, old hens make fabulous soup. Rooster in soup can be hella nasty.

              1. quill*

                I think the idea is to cull the cockerels before they get gamey. But I don’t do birds, I just have heard in passing about farming them.

      2. JSPA*

        …with a side of, “plus y’alls too fat and greazy, here’s a more civilized version.” The whole package is just…bad.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          Right, the whole “but healthy!” thing came across badly to me also, especially given the inequity in health care in the U.S.

        2. Observer*

          with a side of, “plus y’alls too fat and greazy, here’s a more civilized version.”

          Uch. Yes.

          This packaged was absolutely NOT just clueless, imo. There are so many different ways that offense is being given that it’s really hard to not roll my eyes at the notion.

    2. münchner kindl*

      Yes. I’m not American (so don’t have the background to understand just how bad this is) but the whole idea of sending out a recipe for Black History month – instead of a list of famous black people, or websites with resources, is so much out of step, it has to be deliberate.

      The comparable incident it reminds me of was the supervisor who named Stalin as employee of the month – and in the update, it turned out several employees were Ukrainians/ Eastern European who remembered Stalin’s atrocities, and had quit, which was supervisors goal.

      So yes, trolls are deliberatly doing this in OP’s company and in a high position to get away with it.

      1. Van Wilder*

        OP #1 – I would anonymously send a copy of the email (and the “apology”) to the press and let them begin the public shaming.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I’m picturing the meeting:
      How do we recognize black history month?
      “Well, we could look to recent movies, like Hidden Figures.”
      What’s that?
      “It’s a movie with Oscar winner Octavia Spencer that details how one Black woman discovered the math that made space flight possible, another became a leading Fortran coder, another the first Black female engineer at NASA.”
      Huh. Doesn’t ring a bell.
      “Kevin Costner chews gum and knocks down a sign with a baseball bat.”
      OH! Yeah. He sure loves baseball.

      1. Xl*

        The mathematicians in “Hidden Figures” are a good example of the positive role models that this month should be celebrating.

        As a traffic engineer, a good bit of trivia is that the traffic signal as we know it was invented by Garrett Morgan, a black inventor.

      2. Jessica Ganschen*

        And if for some reason they’re really stuck on the food thing, they could highlight black chefs, like Michael W. Twitty, who also wrote a book titled The Cooking Gene.

        1. Daisy Gamgee*

          Exactly! Another good example is _High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America_ by Professor Jessica B. Harris, which now has an accompanying Netflix series.

  5. Loulou*

    OP 4, I would also encourage you to go on these other interviews with an open mind, rather than as a just-in-case thing. I had a situation where I was waiting on an offer from a “perfect” job and went on another interview in the meantime. I viewed the other interview as a backup but ended up loving the place and reconsidering my other option. Even if you still end up at the first place, you’ll likely get some value out of going on other interviews.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Literally the interview practice is good just on its own.

      Add in “plus this first job could fall through” and “plus this third interview could really excite me” and you should definitely continue.

      1. H2*

        I agree, although I do also agree that it is probably a good idea to have canceled the one at the same university. Research scientists/professors can be weird about stuff like that. There’s a potential for awkwardness both with the research group you choose and the one you don’t (as far as anyone else talking, it seems that you are freshly about to graduate and they’re all going to know that and will probably assume the best).

        1. PostalMixup*

          Depends. If it’s a large university, the two PIs could be in entirely different departments without much interaction. When I was doing my postdoc, we interviewed several undergraduates (granted, different situation) and most were upfront that they were interviewing in other labs.

        2. TradeMark*

          There is a lot of (deserved) negativity about college career centers on this site, but it is possible that the career center was correct in their advice. They may be aware that continuing to interview on campus in this situation is Not Done.

        3. Office Lobster DJ*

          Yeah, it’s possible that the advice to cancel was not outrageously wrong. I don’t think I would have given the same advice (because ultimately we’re all adults here), but it’s not the worst advice ever. You’re not just signing on to learn/perform a certain set of tasks when you join a lab, you’re also signing on to the PI – their own particular projects, publications, network, and mentorship. Their name may open doors for you down the line. So egos can get involved and it can get weird.

          That said, we ARE all adults here and you should not hesitate to keep interviewing wherever until you get an offer you like.

      2. Evelyn Carnahan*

        Yes! Get the practice and keep an open mind until you actually accept the job offer. It may come in handy as you’re waiting on this written offer. I was recently on a search committee where we had a very strong candidate but the paperwork was taking a long time to get through HR. The candidate received a written job offer (I think she may have gotten a verbal one here but I’m not even sure about that), and she was able to use that to get her written offer faster than normal. Just don’t keep doing interviews for practice once you accept the written offer. I had someone do an entire interview and then when it was time for them to ask us questions, the candidate told us they had already accepted a position somewhere else and just wanted the practice.

        1. Another Grad Student*

          Adding to the chorus of do the other interviews: if you want to go to grad school in this field in 1-2 years, knowing more profs in the field >> knowing fewer. You can assess things like if their labs would be nice to work in down the line/whether you might want to collaborate with them in future projects etc. Even if the answers turn out to be no, the expanded knowledge and network will come in handy later.

          1. A mathematician*

            Also joining this chorus as an academic – knowing more people in the field is always valuable. As a research assistant, you probably can’t build much of a relationship with the professor in charge right now, but you can get to know what they do for the future, and if you do want to apply to them later on they might remember you. But when you go for the interview you’ll also meet other more junior people in their team (fellow research assistants, grad students, maybe postdocs) – and you can keep in touch with them. And they will all go on and do interesting things in different places, and are a useful source of potential collaborations for you and anyone you work for.

        2. 2 Cents*

          Even when I knew I was meh about the job prospect, I went to the interview if I got one because it’s a needed skill and there are SO few chances to practice interviewing for real. (No, doing it at your college career center does not count.) When I was less worried about getting the job, I found I could ask questions I normally didn’t or try out stuff I’d always wanted to in an interview.

          Also, I’ve had jobs fall through even though they were sure things and from trustworthy, reputable companies. One went on a hiring freeze immediately after I accepted and I was unable to start there. Always keep your options open!

    2. Sara without an H*

      OP#4, do not, do not, DO NOT ever cancel other interviews until you have the job offer in writing and have read it over carefully.

      Yes, I know universities are strange places, and scientists are a gossipy bunch. But in my experience (35 years, mostly in research universities), if the PI “hears” that you’re interviewing elsewhere, his/her first reaction will be to pester HR to get your offer letter out faster. And since you’re early in your career, you don’t want to burn any bridges with other labs, right?

      Everything everybody has said upstream about the value of interview practice is solid. Do your interviews, be polite and professional to everyone, and don’t make any firm decisions until you have that offer in hand.

      And take everything your campus career center tells you with a grain of salt.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I would go just a touch further – take the advice to cancel interviews before the formal offer letter arrives with “a grain of salt the size of the Rock of Gibraltar.”

        Also, just to echo others here – I once changed my mind about an offer after going to an interview while waiting on the formal offer, went with the other company because the interview place was just so dynamite, and I never would have known that if I had canceled the interview.

    3. Girasol*

      I struggle with interviewing while I’m looking forward to a job offer that I really want and feel confident I will get. The last time I ran into this, I went to the next interview thinking, “This is just for practice. It never hurts to improve interview skills!” and did not take it terribly seriously. But my done-deal job offer fell through. My “practice” interview went especially well because I wasn’t stressed – I wasn’t really trying to nail the job – and I got the offer.

  6. Bazza7*

    #1 Tiger Woods, the golfer, got comments about fried chicken at least twice in his career, Fuzzy Zoeller, late 1990s -who lost sponsorship over it and Sergio Garcia – who by 2013 should of known better and still said it. What is wrong with your colleagues/supervisors who thought this was OK!?! A quick search on the internet would of told them otherwise. Just so offensive!

        1. Spicy Tuna*

          When I was a child in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s, I remember hearing someone make a derisive comment about “fried chicken and watermelon” vis a vis Black people and my mother read them the riot act – we are white, so certainly by the late ’90’s people should know better

      1. nnn*

        The other thing about knowing better – and I say this as an ignorant white lady who didn’t know better until very recently – is if you don’t know about the stereotype, it doesn’t occur to you to associate fried chicken with Black History Month. They’d just be two unrelated things, like spaghetti and International Women’s Day.

        There simply isn’t any permutation of ignorance that would lead you to associating fried chicken with Black people while also not realizing that it’s a stereotype.

      1. len*

        not just directed at this comment but would like to gently suggest that it might not be necessary or helpful for the topic at hand to fill the comments section with every racist comment we can think of, transcribed verbatim.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes. I’ve removed several. Nor do we need lists of other stereotypes you’ve heard in the name of educating fellow commenters. Please stop doing that, y’all.

    1. anne of mean gables*

      In all honesty, any person who is sending out company-wide missives about Black History Month at a Fortune 100 in the year of our lord 2022 should not even need an internet search to know this is not okay.

    2. Didn't know but did care*

      I would definitely expect someone who’s responsible for the commemorative message for any remotely related to DEI communication to search their topic first.
      Personally, I wasn’t at all aware of the fried chicken and/or watermelon “thing” until I read AAM (earlier than today of course). No one ever said it around me before that. So I wouldn’t have known it was used in a racist manner, but it also wouldn’t have occurred to me to talk about it at all in the first place. Therefore I could not possibly have even sent this out without searching for it first… And without finding that it was offensive either. It’s pretty bad, at best…. Perpetuating stereotypes on a serious occasion isn’t a good thing in general.

    3. Lizzy May*

      Just to be clear, the writers of the email didn’t need to google; they knew. The fact that they thought to use a fried chicken recipe in a Black History Month email in the first place means they already knew about the connection. If they were truly ignorant of the hurtful stereotype, they wouldn’t have come up with the initial idea. Of all the foods in the entire world, they chose fried chicken? They knew what they were doing.

  7. Artemesia*

    #2 — new jobs are stressful and you need to focus your energy on excelling there and impressing your new manager — don’t let you old job bleed off your attention and energy. #4. take ANY advice from your dreadful career center — betting no one advising has had an actual career. I have known many situations where job offers fell through including one my husband received when we first moved for my job to a new city. Stuff happens. You don’t have a job until you have a job and you should go full speed ahead on interviews until you have a formal offer accepted.

    #1. I can’t even. I can’t fathom how anyone in a Fortune 100 company could be so clueless. In 2022, someone actually thought this was not incredibly offensive? Wow.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I believe it’s speculation that the career center has recent graduates who haven’t worked much.

        I believe Alison launched the blog after reading some really ridiculous advice on how to hire and realizing all that was needed to write this stuff was a freelancer willing to accept the assignment. Thus do we get advice to show gumption by sending half a dollar bill, the second half to be available only if the applicant gets an interview.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ha, no, although that would have been a good reason to do it because it’s definitely true. I launched it because I kept seeing employees and candidates make decisions that indicated they clearly didn’t understand what their manager/interviewer was thinking, or how their own actions would be interpreted by their manager/interviewer. But I did rant about career centers a lot in the early days of the site.

      2. doreen*

        “I believe it’s speculation that the career center has recent graduates who haven’t worked much.” It could be – but I’m thinking it’s something else. I recently retired from a government job and right before I left, there was talk of training my agency’s staff to assist clients in finding jobs. I almost laughed out loud when I heard that – these are people who have spent their entire careers (or nearly so) in government work or at least union jobs and have no experience with the non-unionized private sector at all. I doubt a few weeks of training is going to help much. I think something similar is at work with the “betting no one advising has had an actual career”. It might be less “recent graduates” and more “has only experienced an academic environment”

    1. Anima*

      Slightly pushing back in this one case: the caterer center advised to not go to this one interview *at the same institution*. Judging from my experience in academia, although in another subject, that’s ok advice. Throwing your hat on two jobs in the same institution does not look good, especially if the institute is small and people talk. It may backfire, mostly because the first employer might think you didn’t like them that much/aren’t loyal (whatever this poo is) etc.
      That said, it’s only a slight push back, because it may also advance your candidacy because now two labs from the same institute want you and are competing for you. Might make you more money, but it’s a gamble.
      I would have cancelled this one interview, too. Would have taken all others, though, because you don’t have a job until you have a job!

      1. H2*

        Also in academia, in the sciences, and I just posted this same idea above. It’s good advice to cancel the interview with the same institution, more than likely. The odds of it hurting the LW’s candidacy or creating issues down the line are greater than the odds of any positive benefit.

  8. Green Beans*

    OP #4: academia can take a very long time in the hiring process and it’s concerning that HR hasn’t been involved in this process (and I was a research assistant at several places!) It’s not uncommon for professors to get frustrated with the HR process if it’s long and just go around it until they have to engage (like when they want to make an offer) and that can mean a ton of delays to actually hire someone even if they’re promising an offer.

    Also you’re very likely being paid from a grant, so your should be able to get a very good idea of the salary range even before the offer comes through.

    1. Well...*

      In my field, there is a global postdoc hiring deadline. Around that time unofficial offers go out, and if you don’t accept, you lose the job to someone else. The official offer comes weeks later, by which time it’s impossible to find another postdoc for the fall. People do talk, so if an institute retracted an unofficial offer, it would be a big scandal. Similarly, if you back out you leave an institute in the lurch without a postdoc, and it’s bad (not just for your reputation, it will even blow back on your references and they likely won’t write you letters anymore).

      This is a specific case where unofficial offers are fairly binding based on the culture. But because of dynamics like this, academia is more willing to see unofficial offers as secure than other industries. I’d say it’s fine to interview, but you get into danger if you sit on two offers without communicating your situation.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        It doesn’t sound like a post-doc position, because OP stated “it would be good prep for graduate school.”

        1. Forrest*

          I think the general point is that expectations and etiquette differ across sectors, so “don’t treat an unofficial offer as a real offer” may be good advice in general but not the best advice here.

    2. Rock Prof*

      I was coming here to say this same thing. Funding, even grant-based, can still shift. Particularly right now, I know a lot of researchers having to adjust their existing budgets because equipment (computers and scientific instruments) are just really expensive right now.

      1. Green Beans*

        In my field, at least, most grants have the money pre-allocated and you usually can’t move funds from salary to equipment. There are a couple of places that will give you unrestricted funds, but they’ve very competitive.

        1. PT*

          And Congress hasn’t passed a budget yet. There’s a whole bunch of scored grants hanging in the balance right now, ready to be funded but there’s no money there to fund them.

          My husband has 2 grants for around 1 million each in this situation.

        2. Rock Prof*

          For lots of grants from funding agencies like NSF or NIH, this is definitely true. But there are smaller grants from private companies or non-profits that have a lot more leeway (I mostly get those since I’m at a mostly undergraduate place). Since this is a big/prestigious place, I’m guessing it mostly it’s mostly in the former category, but you never know.

  9. Happily Retired*

    Re #1: this should be a fireable offense. And not just for the person who wrote and posted this, but for that person’s supervisor, and THAT person’s supervisor, and up every level above. This is a CLEAR indication of this company’s (Fortune 100!!!! WTF WTF WTF WTF!!!!!) culture, if it didn’t occur to anyone in this group that hey, maybe we shouldn’t do this.

    If this company isn’t named in my AP and NY Times news feeds when I wake up tomorrow, I will dig it up and name and shame myself. Dear God in Heaven.

    1. SpatulaCity*

      An Atlanta IKEA store sent out a Juneteenth celebration menu in 2021 recommending fried chicken and watermelon. So it’s unfortunately more widespread.

      1. Jen*

        My college cafeteria served friend chicken and collard greens “in honor of Martin Luther Kind Day”. Uggggghhhhh.

        1. OhNo*

          Ugh, same. My college did a Black History Month dinner every year that included a lot of cornbread, collard greens, and other southern US comfort food dishes, despite the fact that it had been brought up several times that the menu was painting a pretty reductive view of the Black experience in the US.

      2. Shannon*

        My work’s cafeteria is doing it right now! I can literally go downstairs and “celebrate black history month” with fried chicken and collard greens

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      This isn’t the place for naming and shaming, but this company absolutely needs to be named and shamed. You aren’t exaggerating with AP and NYT—a Fortune 100 company doing this is news, and it needs to be.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yes, it would be great to have this company outed to the news media for their repulsive behavior. Since it’s a Fortune 100 company that sent the original offensive email and the tone-deaf so-called apology, it seems that any employee there could anonymously tip off a news organization with little risk of being identified and becoming a target for retaliation.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is so outrageous, OP, there is a Grand Canyon size disconnect going on.

      Just my opinion of course, but with problems this size one faces a choice. One can either work to fix all that is wrong OR one can choose to focus on what is best for them in their setting. If a person decides to go in on something of this magnitude it is best (health-wise and every other way) to stick with a group of like-minded people. And these people should have a matching level of commitment toward resolution.

      As one person talking to one person, I’d say to take care of YOU first and foremost.

      As one person talking to a group of people, I’d say that I hope you all use social media, news media and any other resources to name and shame. Let the cookies crumble as they will.

    5. Sylvan*

      I strongly agree. It’s so off the mark that it must have been intentional, and I can’t imagine why someone would do that.

  10. Elizabeth West*

    #1– I saw this on Twitter and bolted over here, only to find that it was worse than I even imagined. I mean, just….what the what?!

  11. Still went*

    for #4.
    My last time job searching. I actually had the job offer and still went on a different interview the next day.

    It is nice to have choices.

    1. Fikly*

      I once had a signed and accepted job offer and start date. Found out the day before I was due to start that the position got pulled due to budget. Not that I’m still seething or anything.

      Always, always keep your options open. If anyone complains, it’s not personal, it’s just business.

    2. comityoferrors*

      +1. Presumably there’s something that interested you about the other jobs you applied for. IMO you owe it to yourself to see what’s there and weigh it against your other options. Once you have the actual job offer (or offers!) you don’t want to drag out your decision too long to explore every possibility, but before that point and for a few days after that point, why limit yourself?

  12. Almost Academic*

    #4 – This is one situation where academia works very differently, so I would take Alison’s advice with a grain of salt. When I received my post-bacc lab position (psych) I didn’t get my offer letter until my first day of work. This was partially due to some grant funding shenanigans and also a woefully strange HR department. R1 school. I’ve heard of similar situations from friends, offer letters just are not as common in academia. As another commenter mentioned, offers are also pretty rarely revoked (if are it’s a huge scandal). Do you have a mentor in the field that you can ask about this, or a lab manager for your future lab? PIs talk and it’s a small world so if you continue interviewing elsewhere it will look strange and may impact your reputation more broadly. Would advise getting department specific advice.

    1. Forrest*

      Yes, “unofficial offers” and “official offers” can mean lots of different things depending on the field. I’ve been told by teachers that if you’re teaching in the UK, a verbal offer is made in the day and that’s THE offer, and you’re supposed to accept or decline immediately — continuing to interview after accepting a verbal offer would look extremely bad. (This sounded so terrible I asked around and was told this by lots of people!) Definitely worth getting some sector-specific advice, or making sure you follow up with the people who have made an offer to find out if/when a formal written offer will be made and how much weight they put on it. In some sectors and industries, the “informal” offer IS the offer.

      1. Kate*

        I think this is particularly true for teaching because the hours/ holidays are very standardised and the pay scales are public. The chances of being surprised by anything in an ‘official’ offer are very low.

      2. misspiggy*

        In the UK a verbal offer has legal weight, and verbal acceptance is binding, as a contract. By the point of a verbal offer you would already know salary, main terms and conditions, and any perks. You do any further negotiating in the call which came to make the offer, agree any changes to salary etc, and map out a rough start time. And that’s it, unless references (which only check the outline of your work history) are still pending. You might get an email to confirm the conversation, and not get any other paperwork until your first day.

        If a surprise comes up in the paperwork that you can’t accept, you can get out of it. But if you accept a verbal offer and drop out for another reason, it is likely to burn a bridge. Similarly, an employer can’t withdraw the offer even if no paperwork has been issued.

      3. londonedit*

        Also teaching is very much an outlier when it comes to UK hiring practices – if a teacher wants to move on, they’ll usually need to give at least a term’s notice, so they’ll be interviewing months before they actually start the new job. And literally everyone knows which jobs are open in which schools at any given time, so there’s no ‘taking the afternoon off for a sneaky job interview’ – because you’ll necessarily need to take a day off in term time to interview, everything is out in the open and your boss will 100% know that you’re going for the Head of Maths job at the school down the road. That’s not the norm in most industries. Teaching interviews will be whole-day affairs, too, usually involving teaching an actual class for an observed lesson as well as having face-to-face interviews with the headteacher/head of department etc. And then yep, my understanding is that the successful applicant is notified straight away, usually on the day. I guess it sounds ‘terrible’ if you’re not used to it, but if you’re a teacher and that’s how teaching works, then that’s what you’re used to and you go into the whole interview process knowing that if you’re offered the job, you’re expected to accept or decline on the day. My impression is that most people will already know whether they’re likely to accept the job if they’re offered it – and you’ll already have all the information about salary etc (things like holidays aren’t really an issue because you just get school holidays, and health insurance isn’t an issue, so there isn’t really much to negotiate).

      4. comityoferrors*

        Is this true even if the “informal” offer hasn’t outlined any of the specifics of the role, like your salary and your benefits? That seems really unreasonable to expect someone to hang their hat on a total unknown indefinitely.

        Good advice to check with mentors in the industry in any case! Even if OP doesn’t have a specific mentor in mind, I wonder if former professors and TAs could give some insight into the general process or to the specific labs OP applied for.

        1. Forrest*

          Yes! It also means if you’re a new teacher and you’re still trying to figure out what kind of school suits you and using the interview to find out more you’ve got to play a really high stakes game where you either have to accept a job you’re not super thrilled about and cancel your interview next week at the school you’re really excited about, or turn them down and keep everything crossed that next week’s interview goes well.

          And then we wonder why so many teachers leave the profession after 3-5 years…

    2. BRR*

      But in the lw’s situation the offer is supposed to come in a week so I don’t think the lw needs to figure out industry norms for just a week. And as much as I agree an offer could take awhile, I also think it’s perfectly plausible for a professor to make an informal offer without everything be final on the back end.

      My advice stays the same no matter what that the lw shouldn’t cancel these interviews until an offer is finalized.

      1. Forrest*

        I think that week when you hold an informal offer but not a formal one is exactly when you need to work out industry norms around formal and informal offers! When else?

    3. Rock Prof*

      Academia is weird, but going on multiple interviews even while waiting on a promised offer isn’t done weird breach of conduct. It’s a really common thing to do, even at the professor stage. Going to an interview isn’t signing another contract or anything.

  13. Batgirl*

    There was a fried chicken comment made in my workplace and it was tackled immediately, labelled unacceptable and the perpetrator told to apologize and desist unless they wanted a suspension. Even though the comment came from a 13 year old boy mindlessly repeating internet garbage, we were pretty shocked it could be seen by anyone as okay. When this comes from the top I don’t even know where you’d start.

    1. Student*

      Unfortunately, when this stuff is endemic to a company’s culture, you “start” by looking for a better place to work that matches your values.

  14. Candi*

    #1 -it doesn’t frigging matter where something came from, it matters what it’s associated with in the collective psyche. ARGH.

    #3 -bloody college career centers. At least the one at my community college had the sense to know where their limits were. Haven’t had to deal with my uni’s yet.

    Some days I wonder how much typing out of what she wants to say and kitty cuddling Alison does before she gets to her professional, civil responses.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      #1 – Yup. Ran into that at a conference once. The speaker started his talk with a joke. It poked fun at the venue name. Except, it was the venue where he’d previously given the talk, not the one where we actually were. (Seriously, update your talk when you’ve got things like that in there.) The joke referenced fried chicken, which was did have a connection to the previous venue. But most of the pictures on the slide when he told the joke were of Black people. Whether or not the speaker intended it to be racist, it definitely came off that way. (Not just to me – I heard a couple of people behind me making comments to the same effect. That’s what pushed me into reporting it to the conference organizers.)

      1. Candi*

        I can’t remember if it was here, Not Always Right, or somewhere else, but several years ago I read about a company that had a spread to honor Martin Luther King Day.

        The main dish was fried chicken. The main side was watermelon.

        And the management was shocked that people were horrified.

        (It was useful to me. Until then and the ensuing discussion, I had no idea that there was an association and it was problematic at best. Haven’t forgotten.)

    2. tessa*

      “Some days I wonder how much typing out of what she wants to say and kitty cuddling Alison does before she gets to her professional, civil responses.”

      Lol, ain’t that the truth! I banged away at my keyboard for a half hour the other day with many drafts until I finally was able to write a polite and civil message. That was tough, because…….COWORKER FROM HELL…..

    3. Elenna*

      Re #1 – also, the whole “but it’s actually Scottish!!!” thing makes no sense anyways. If they’re trying to claim it’s Scottish and thus not a racial stereotype, well a) that’s completely wrong, but also b) why are they sending it out for Black History Month, if they think it’s Scottish?

      1. Candi*

        “It’s not really racist if we explain the background!”

        I wish I was joking.

        It’s like someone making a joke about Jewish penny-pinching and claiming it’s not -ist because of the limits on what jobs Jews could hold in parts of Middle Ages/Renaissance Europe. Just, NO.

  15. Amey*

    Re: #4 I’m having a ‘but academia though’ moment because it sounds like the interview the careers centre advised OP to cancel was at the same institution. An academic having extended an informal offer and then discovering that the OP is continuing to interview in the next department along could easily result in the original offer being withdrawn as ‘clearly’ the OP isn’t dedicated to the job they’ve been offered. I may be jaded by senior scientists in my own institution (‘not all scientists’ of course!) genuinely asking in interviews ‘If [department] building was burning down and your wife was in hospital, which would you save first?’ ‘Correct’ answer being the building obviously! I just wouldn’t guarantee you’re not risking the offer by interviewing at the same institution – at my institution, there are only so many departments with lab technicians and they do talk to each other.

    1. Derivative Poster*

      I had the same reaction, especially re: interviews with PIs at the same institution (who more than likely know one another). It’s a harder to know the etiquette for post-bac interviewing than for PhD or post-doc positions. Still, I’m not sure the career center was wrong here. OP, if you have close relationships with any professors from undergrad, you might ask them about what is or isn’t a faux pas. Academia plays by its own rules.

    2. JSPA*

      Same here. The system is very much craftguild, master, journeyman, apprentice-like.

      The PI generally wants someone who is fascinated by and devoted to the specific niche, as otherwise, the process (which must be careful, exacting, and often runs outside any normal business hours) can be incredibly repetitive and dull in its particulars. If you are considering two labs in the same department, I would either say that up-front–it’s not unusual for two PI’s to compare notes on which lab would be a better fit for a student, tech, or post-doc–or else not apply to both. Applying elsewhere isn’t as problematic; it’s reasonable you might be building contacts and following up on offers.

    3. Antilles*

      ‘If [department] building was burning down and your wife was in hospital, which would you save first?’ ‘Correct’ answer being the building obviously!
      Wait, how would I save the building?
      I’m not a firefighter, I don’t have a fire incident suit in my trunk, my Honda Civic isn’t equipped with a fire hose or fire ladder, and I don’t have any way to open a fire hydrant. What makes you think I can save a burning building?

      1. PostalMixup*

        You at least save the notebooks! The fire alarm went off the day before I submitted my dissertation. You bet your ass I brought all my notebooks and my laptop with me when I evacuated!

      2. Metadata minion*

        And if my wife is in the hospital, she’s in good hands! I am not a doctor and can’t do anything further to help! That’s such a bizarre question.

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I will agree with that caveat – if it’s another interview at the same institution it’s probably better to cancel or postpone that interview (at the same university). But I wouldn’t do the same for interviews at other institutions/organizations, because you can learn more about interviewing and other companies.

  16. Excel-sior*

    OP4 reminds me a little bit of myself when I was roughly that age. Not naive, especially, but perhaps a little idealistic to the way the world actually is. These are adults, grown ups, responsible people. They know what they’re doing! That they could say something would happen and then that thing not happen? Unthinkable.

    Sadly, you soon learn that the world isn’t like that, even if it really should be. I’ve had opportunities where I was verbally offered the role the next day, only for the process to drag on for over a month (!) for various reasons. I had been tempted to just wait, but carried on looking and eventually found something else that was much much better.

    OP4; go to your other interviews. Worst case scenario is you get some more practice at interviews.

    1. Well...*

      I think worst case scenario is souring the relationship with OPs likely new boss by looking like they are going to take a different offer. I’d say it’s not very likely, but worth checking in with norms in the field.

  17. Bluesboy*

    #OP4 – When I was a hiring manager I sometimes had issues between myself and HR, in that changes in situation were not effectively communicated by them.

    I mean for example that we would have a standard hiring procedure, which I would follow, tell the interviewee to expect an official offer from HR, speak to HR and then find that “Ah no, we’ve changed the salary range for that position”, or “we’ve started only taking people on as of the 1st of the month for paycheck reasons” or worst of all “we have a hiring freeze, didn’t anybody tell you?”

    Assuming that your job offer wouldn’t fall through BECAUSE you continue interviewing (just because some people are weird), keep interviewing. You just never know, and better to be safe than sorry.

    1. LooLoo*

      As an African American, I am really grossed out by this comment. There is no need to check with a black person before calling out racism. I have called out racism towards other races and I absolutely expect other people to do the same.

    2. SarahKay*

      There’s nothing in OP’s letter to say that a black person wasn’t offended; for all we know there may have been other complaints.
      And while I can’t speak to racism, I can say that as a woman I am always very pleased (not to mention relieved that it’s not on me to do) when men call out sexism. It’s called being an ally.

      1. UKDancer*

        Me too. I am always pleased when someone is an ally and calls out sexist behaviour because it means I’m not always the one complaining about it.

        So if I think something is racist or homophobic I will definitely challenge it (if it’s safe to do so) because that’s what I think being an ally is. It may not affect me and I may be wrong in taking action, but I’d rather challenge it than stand by and let unacceptable behaviour happen and say nothing.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Yes, and while it shouldn’t be the case, it can often be safer – I’ve definitely had situations where, as a woman, I didn’t feel safe calling out sexism , and I can recall times where I didn’t say anything because I didn’t feel I could safely do so, and when a man did speak out, (in one case, a random stranger) it was a relief .

      3. bowl of petunias*

        Yeah, if you want to be an ally you step up. You don’t sit quietly enjoying your own moral superiority while those in the firing line continue to do all the work.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Isn’t part of allyship using your own privaledge to speak up and call out racism or other discriminatory behaviour? Of course that needs to be done in the contest of listening to what members of the relevant community say so you are not drowning them out, but surely POC shouldn’t have to do all the work of fighting racism, or women all the work of fighting misogyny?

      Also, how do we know that a black person or people weren’t offended? LW saw that the mail was offensive, she raised it and got a really lame response – we (and she) don’t know how many other employees, including POC were also offended, and how many of them complained, nor do we know if she has coworkers who are POC who may have decided not to complain because they didn’t feel confident that they could do so without facing retaliation.

      I don’t think that there is any question that it was, objectively, an offensive and racist e-mail to have sent around – isn’t it better to have as many people as possible pointing out that that it’s not acceptable? The bigger the response, the harder it is to ignore.

    4. Batgirl*

      So basically you’re saying that white people can’t possibly know in advance that reducing a culture’s entire history, struggles and achievements down to a bloody recipe would be an issue? That we don’t understand that using a recipe from someone not even part of the culture is lazy and ridiculous? Also, we don’t have to bother educating ourselves about the common and widespread use of said recipe as an insult because it doesn’t affect us? On top of everything else the black community has to coach us through basic logic and common sense so we don’t have to use our own brains?

    5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      One doesn’t need to check with every woman in the building to know that something ridiculously sexist has been said.

      Your assertion that white people cannot speak up against racism is unhelpful and wrong.

      1. quill*

        I swear to god the “You can’t say a joke is offensive if you’re not the person being made fun of!” is yet another piece of internet troll derailment that’s made its way into the public consciousness.

        There’s enough cultural context floating around for people other than your target to “get” the “joke” or you wouldn’t have made it.

    6. Emmy Noether*

      You are talking about white-knighting, which is a real problem – but what is described in this letter is not that.

      In fact, it is highly unfair to expect victims of racism to take on all the work of educating about and fighting racism. So if there is a clear-cut instance of racism, it’s good if an ally speaks up about it. I believe this particular racist stereotype has been sufficiently discussed in the media to know that it is, in fact, offensive, without having to check in with a token black person if they are *still* offended.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        In fact, it is highly unfair to expect victims of racism to take on all the work of educating about and fighting racism

        Thank you! This is a very salient point. Why does it have it be up to the discriminated party to address everything? We need allies.

        1. quill*

          If for no other reason than anybody who is racist doesn’t care about the opinions of the people they’re biased against by definition.

    7. I AM Sparkling }:(*

      The problem is the entrenched racism in American Whites that goes unchallenged by other Whites, therefore normalizing tacit acceptance of such, and that’s bad, mmmmkay?

      I’m sure there were Black employees who were offended, but didn’t want to speak up publicly for fear of being labeled troublemakers (“uppity,” anyone?) and the hoi polloi in a company that size can’t do anything on their own, without support from the upper echelons. Which, according to LW1, are all White men with a token woman. Heck, they might even have complained through the feedback system and we all know how well that went.

      1. I AM Sparkling }:(*

        Actually, I shouldn’t have used American there. Racism is a problem everywhere, not just the USA, and I don’t want to imply that it isn’t, even inadvertently.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          It’s so, so entrenched here though. From my very limited knowledge of other countries, it does seem to be worse here.

      2. londonedit*

        Yep, it’s like the ‘but I’ve never heard of/seen any women being sexually harassed, I’m sure it doesn’t happen nearly as much as they say it does’, ‘you can’t even say anything to a woman nowadays without someone being offended’, ‘but why didn’t she report it if it was as bad as she says’ rubbish that gets trotted out. Amazing to think that decades of hearing ‘nah, I don’t believe it happens’, ‘it can’t be that bad’, ‘I’m sure it was just a joke’ and seeing people getting away with harassment/sexism/racism might put people off bothering to report incidents when they happen.

    8. Librarian of SHIELD*

      As I said elsewhere upthread, racism is a white people problem which makes it white people’s responsibility to solve. BIPOC people aren’t always in a situation where it’s safe to push back against racist behaviors, and we shouldn’t be leaving them on their own to fight a battle that is exhausting, demoralizing, and sometimes may end in violence.

  18. Hapax Legomenon*

    #4: I am surprising myself by disagreeing with Alison for once. In my organization, if I interview with a different department after a department has already said they’re going to hire me, I will get trash-talked. It’s true that in most jobs you shouldn’t be penalized for continuing to interview, but when you interview for a different position in an organization after an unofficial offer has been made for the first, you could damage your reputation a bit.

    1. Ashley*

      That’s too bad. A verbal offer is as good as the paper it’s written on. Companies look out for their best interests all the time, a job seeker should be able to do the same without taking a reputational hit.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yep. I was going to add that even a written offer is contingent on background check results, and who knows in what ways those can go haywire. A verbal offer is just… not a guarantee of a written one; or of a written one that would match the verbal one on the pay and the benefits. At least in the corporate world.

        “A verbal offer is as good as the paper it’s written on.” – love this!

    2. recovering admission counselor*

      Are you referring to a corporate environment? As Alison and other commenters have said many times, the rules in academia are often very different than what those in corporate-land expect.

      As it were, OP4 has already cancelled their interview with a different lab at the same school, so the “same organization” part of your point is moot anyway. OP4 can and should continue with their interviews at other schools.

    3. Blarg*

      You seem to be referring to internal interviews where you’re already an employee, no? A “different department” is very different than a different organization. And an already employed person looking to transfer or be promoted internally is not remotely the same as a soon-to-be-grad seeking their first position after getting a degree.

    4. Hapax Legomenon*

      Judging by all the replies, I failed to explain myself. My organization is neither corporate nor academia, and I’m not talking about internal candidates. OP should definitely keep their interviews at the other schools, but I thought the career center had a point about cancelling the interview for the lab at the same school. Could be completely wrong, but I thought the norms around academia are so weird and coupled with my own personally-witnessed weirdness, might be pointing at a legit reason not to interview again at the same institution.

    5. Student*

      Your org has a diseased way of viewing people who work there. Your org seems to think they’re objects to be collected at your org’s sole choice.

      The person being interviewed is a person, with their own agency and opinion and needs. What if they like the second job better? What if there are pay or substantial role and benefits differences in the roles? How is the person being interviewed supposed to figure that out without actually going to the second interview? Why should the person interviewing just roll over and assume the corporation’s opinions about which job they’re suited for are the only ones that matter?

      Your org just wants to suppress internal competition to keep their wages down and make corporate’s life easier. The real question is, why would you help them do that by acting like interviewing for different roles is scandalous instead of in your best interest?

  19. Disgusted*

    #1 – All I can say is that I would anonymously leak that email on Twitter, with names redacted. A good public shaming is probably the only thing that would encourage that company to review their actions.

  20. 653-CXK*

    OP #3: I think you may have dodged a bullet here.

    If they’re evading questions in an interview, can you imagine them evading your questions when you’re doing your job? And if they’re desperate to know why you took yourself out of the hiring process, and they still insist on going forward, I would tell them firmly why, thank them for their time to interview, and then block them on email and your phone.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I would definitely agree that you should NOT accept that phone call. Nothing good can come of it. They are probably just hoping they can convince you to change your mind, and if they can’t it may go downhill into brow-beating. Like a breakup, sometimes the kindest thing you can do is be very clear and definite about your decision and make it clear there’s nothing they can do that would change your answer. No need for a call or really any further discussion. It’s not a two-person mutual decision here.

  21. Old Admin*

    #1: If I may, I would recommend the Youtube videos and website of Michael Twitty, a black culinary historian who also dispassionately, clearly, looks at the history and racism that ties into what we now call soul food. I’m a reenactor, and am very impressed by his work.

    Here’s a short TED talk by him:
    He also worked with serious historical reenactors such as John Townsend and researched the early history race and food:
    https://thecookinggene.com/ (his book)

    Michael Twitty also consults companies and organizations, you can reach him at his website: https://afroculinaria.com/contact/

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Just finished watching the TED talk from your link and…wow. Seriously this needs to be broadcast more. Highly recommend watching this.

      1. Old Admin*

        I am honored by your reply. I’ve been following your comments for quite a while now and am impressed at what you’ve overcome and dealt with in such an intelligent way.

    2. jumped all the sharks*

      Thanks for including the Townsend’s link. I love their videos and found them really soothing to watch during the trump/lockdown years. I know he’s battled people who try to claim American history as the domain of cis het white christian men and I appreciate that he tries to include a broader spectrum from our actual shared history.

      1. Old Admin*

        I love the Townsends Youtube channel – for their authenticity, their recipes, their guests – and John Townsend’s soothing voice. :-D

  22. Gnome*

    OP 4,

    As Alison said, offers can have weird stuff… including stuff you might not have thought to bring up in interviews. I had a letter tell me that the standard (exempt) work week was 42.5 hours (US company). Or the dress code is business formal (that would be odd for a lab, right?). So until you see it, assume there’s going to be something wacky in there that you’ll at least raise your eyebrows at and might even make you reconsider your decision.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Hell, I’ve had companies try to pull a bait and switch at the offer stage, slipping it in that the job is a contract position for the first year, or permanently, or there’s a weird trial period, or none of those benefits actually accrue for a year and can be clawed back for the first five years, or …

  23. meagain*

    For #2, while the timing of your leave isn’t ideal, you wrote that you work for a large company. I assume that means that there is an HR department, an executive team, and other resources. (i.e., you’re not at a small family business where a husband and wife team are the the only ones running the place.) I think you just have to continue on with your new job and do what’s best for you. I’m guessing the goodbye party is no longer happening, but if for any reason it is, then I think you should decline that and relieve her of any planning. The company may need to hire a temp or move someone else into a role until they find someone, but it’s okay for you to move forward.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Sometimes the lines blur since I do a lot of personal tasks for them, but I don’t mind and, until now, I saw it as a way to solidify my contributions to them.

      OP#2, this line from your letter leaped out at me. What you’re experiencing is an illustration of why blurring the lines between the professional and the personal is a really bad idea. It’s going to make it harder for both you and your managers to act professionally in a difficult situation.

      Going forward, don’t ask your new employers to put back your start date. Meagain’s suggestion that you ask your managers to cancel the going away party is a good one. Instead, get some nice note paper and write the wife a warm letter of condolence for the loss of her parent. (This is not a job for email.)

      Then concentrate on putting your work in good order and writing up documentation where necessary. Thank your managers warmly for everything they’ve done for you. Leave on your scheduled last day and start your new job with a clear head, a clear conscience, and a new appreciation of the value of boundaries in professional relationships.

    2. OP4*

      Hi, OP for #4 here. I want to clarify some things / add updates:

      1. The career center only advised me to cancel the interview at the same institution as a matter of extreme caution. It’s a large institution and the labs are in different departments, but I wanted to be very careful. (Now I know that was a mistake!) I have to defend my career center, though—they insisted that I keep the other interviews. Their advice generally matches up with everything I’ve read on AAM. The office is split by job sector and is mostly staffed by people with actual industry experience—one of the previous advisors for my field of interest ended up as a hiring manager at a large research institute. They also arrange a lot of pairings of alums in different fields with current students. I mostly rely on my professors for academia advice simply because it can be very niche, but my career center’s been mostly solid. A lot of the stories I’ve read about college career centers on AAM baffle me—I’ve never had such things come from mine.

      2. I ended up asking my current PI and he, too, insisted that I keep the interviews.

      3. Things, luckily, are coming along with the job offer. I haven’t received it yet, but my interviewer (the scientist I’d be working under) has been extremely responsive. Let me say that I am very sure I’d like the job—I met the whole lab, took a tour, discussed everything over with various mentors, and compared everything to both good and bad experiences I’ve had in other labs before. The lab’s a great fit, my supervisor and I click, and I love the research. Nothing, of course, is set in stone, but it’s very much a dream job for me for after graduation. It’s making it difficult to keep an open mind while I keep interviewing, but I’ll try! I really hope everything comes through.

    3. OP #2*

      Thankfully, another colleague of mine took over the reins for the farewell party, so it’s still a go, but they won’t be present.

      At the risk of not revealing too much, H&W actually run the place somewhat (i.e. I’m in the exec team). We do have an HR dept, but they’re already woefully understaffed. It does sound like they’re interviewing folks already so I’m feeling optimistic there.

      Thanks everyone for assuaging my guilt – I feel a lot better hearing from everyone that even in a situation as sad as this one, I can start my new job with a clear conscience.

  24. SJ (they/them)*

    OP #1 I do have one piece of advice from a white allyship perspective, which is that it may be more uncomfortable than you anticipate to continue to push about this. You definitely still should, I just mean, for me I have had some wake-up calls even in what I generally thought were progressive organizations, where, the status quo is really entrenched and even people who are trying to do the right thing are instinctively drawn to the safety of the hive mind, if that makes sense.

    People you might think will have your back might not, or might fold a lot sooner than you expect, or might turn on you. This can be startling and painful. Less painful than the actual effects of racism on racialized people, but still, pain is pain.

    Something that has helped me is getting really comfortable internally (like, in my own head) referring to myself as a race traitor. Like, yep, that’s me, race traitor. Traitor, traitor. It’s gonna suck, but I can’t be surprised when people get their backs up. I’ve already assigned myself the worst label they could come up with, so, I can steel myself against those feelings of oh god what have i done now I’ll be the one left out in the cold.

    I hope this makes some degree of sense. Good luck.

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      ETA “People who are trying to do the right thing”, “People you might think will have your back”, and so on above refers to other white allies, just to be clear.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      This was a thought-provoking comment. I’m fairly sure if someone were to call me a race traitor, I’d either laugh in disbelief or be scared for my safety, depending on the number of swastika tattoos and baseball bats involved. In any case it would be something that would confirm me in my stance.

      1. Eat Dirt, Jim*

        I have had that experience- white dude in a confederate flag telling my boyfriend (Asian descent) to go back where he came from (uhhh, Michigan, idiothole) and that I should be ashamed of betraying my race. I was stunned for a second and then I completely blew up. I’m usually pretty quiet, but this dude… so over the line, so wrong… I think I scared him, because I think he was hoping for a fight, not to be berated by a nerdy white woman. (His wife dragged him away.)

    3. Junebug*

      Can confirm, and I like that strategy. When that happened to me, the worst was realizing that years-long working relationships suddenly meant nothing. I’d thought I was in a safe position to speak up but it evaporated within days. Preparing for that would have helped a lot.

    4. Daisy Gamgee*

      From my perspective this makes a lot of sense — I was just thinking about this concept and ways I’ve seen it play out — and I’m very glad you brought it up.

      Also, while I’m commenting, thank you, OP #1. I really appreciate that you pushed back against racism, not least as a White ally. There are many people who will dismiss a victim of bigotry as “wanting to see bigotry in everything” and thus as illogical, but will listen to someone they consider “like them” who points out bigotry, give that person the benefit of the doubt and believe that they are logically pointing out bigotry that’s “actually there”.

  25. Bookworm*

    #1: Yikes. I don’t have anything else to add beyond what others said, other than good luck with how you choose to proceed. O_O

    #3: Thank you for asking the question. I have been in that situation a couple of times and I think just said it wasn’t a good fit without any further follow-up. I’ve wondered if there was a better way to handle it, though. I appreciate that you asked the question!

  26. SportyYoda*

    LW4: I work in a lab environment (academia, not industry, fwiw; you mentioned “prestigious institution” and
    “prep for grad school” so I interpreted it as something similar)… don’t cancel your interviews. It’s not that your career center gave ad advice per sey (I don’t think it’s great but things get lost in translation and it could have morphed from “cancel interviews after receiving a FORMAL offer”), it’s that academia is SO DIFFERENT from “corporate culture.” We literally just had to stop our hiring process because a grant fell through. We were about to hire a technician/lab manager and post-doc; we hadn’t gotten far enough with the post doc that it really affected anything, but we had began interviewing techs and were literally about to start reference checking one. If your PI is responsible, they won’t have any issues with interviewing with other people at the same institution… and if they do, than they probably aren’t someone you want to work for. HR can be delayed in sending out letters for a variety of reasons , and there’s no harm in following up with whoever sent your original email for an ETA.
    Alternately, think of it as similar to grad school interviews; it’s great if you find the one lab that’s a perfect fit for you, but you wouldn’t totally off all your chances under the hope they had an open spot.

    1. IndustriousLabRat*

      This is a really important point and brings up memories… I once ran a lab funded by a grant that had been formally extended to a second cycle, and right before the renewal the PI got in a tiff with the Department over lab space (basically, a project with a BIGGER grant bumped us into a lab that was physically impossible to perform this type of analytical work in), and rightfully quit to go to another institution, in another state, and took his research with him. This happened shortly after I had bought my house, otherwise I would have happily tagged along. So that was fun. I was grant-funded for a decade and grant renewal times were extremely stressful for us mercenary non-academic-track professional support technicians! And it is why I made the move to Manufacturing, and haven’t looked back.

      The takeaway from this, from my experience in Academia, is: Don’t trust 100% that you have a job until you’re literally meeting your new colleagues, and the job that you actually have is subject to factors that even your Great Grandboss may not be able to control. Am I still a little salty? Well, yeah… That’s the very nature of inorganic chemistry :D

    2. PostalMixup*

      I did my training at a “Harvard of the Midwest” type school, and in my field (bio sciences), for grad school admissions purposes, the most important factors are 1) that you’ve done lab research, and 2) that you can talk about it. You can accomplish that at less prestigious institutions, and sometimes they can have better cultures and work-life balances. Even within prestigious institutions, different labs can have very different cultures. In the course of continuing to interview, you might realize that this first lab is a high-stress environment and has a culture where long hours are expected, whereas another lab might be more…reasonable?
      I was miserable for much of my grad school career because of lab culture and expectations. Working for a big name in the field did not improve my job prospects enough to make it worth it. Don’t do that to yourself for a lab tech position!

  27. ecnaseener*

    #3: This is definitely easier if you stick to email, because if they keep hounding you after your first response then you can just ignore them. So don’t take the phone call.

    If for some reason you do wind up taking the phone call, script out the things you’re comfortable saying and keep that paper in front of you during the call. Include a few variants of “Thank you for asking [if there’s anything you can do to change my mind], but my mind is made up.”

    1. Smithy*

      I strongly agree with this advice. I once pulled out of an interview process for a few reasons – but the biggest was that one of the goals mentioned during the interview was a goal I felt was not something I’d want to commit to. I mentioned that specifically as the reason for withdrawing, essentially, “understanding that a goal of this role is X, I do not feel I am the best placed candidate to achieve that”.

      I got a lot of follow up from them saying that in fact it wasn’t a goal, we should talk more, etc etc etc. It was all fairly intense and confirmed other fit issues I was concerned about but really didn’t want to share either in writing or verbally.

  28. Texan In Exile*

    The ad algorithm on this page needs to read the room. This is not the time to be promoting links to recipes for fried chicken. :(

  29. KittyNoQuitty*

    LW1: Can’t be worse than my Fortune 50 company celebrating a year of our Women’s Employee Resource group with a COOKBOOK filled with ‘healthy’ recipes. Because of course not only do women cook but they want to be skinny too, obvs. *cringe*

  30. fort hiss*

    The fact it’s a “healthy” fried chicken recipe really adds a whole other layer to it, considering how black people are often told their diet is to blame for high weight or poor health, while ignoring how a lack of access to good health care, fresh food, time, reliable transportation, and generstional wealth factors in. The stigma around black people and “unhealthy food” is intense.

    1. I AM Sparkling }:(*

      And the whole “this food stereotypically associated with you isn’t even yours – it’s Scottish!” is just one more paper cut for the collection.

      1. comityoferrors*

        Yeah wtf is that LOL. Not only is our ‘celebration’ of this culture based entirely on racist caricatures, but surprise, we’re still going to give credit to white people somehow! Next week we’ll describe the history of the blues, but with none of the distasteful prison song and worker song history and all of the white folk music influence. What can we say except you’re welcome!

      2. Elle*

        I also think its bizarre to claim that a relatively basic cooking concept– frying chicken– has only one historical origin where all variations can be traced back to. Pretty much every culture has a dumpling variation, but that’s because “filling wrapped in carbs” is a delicious and relatively easy-to-make dish. To say dumplings belong to one specific culture would be overly simplistic and erase a lot of diverse cultural contributions.

    2. reaf*

      Yea, I was really rolling my eyes at the healthy part. I mean, this entire thing is terrible, but that’s just the icing on top.

    3. OP 1*

      There were those too, Stevie Wonder and Amanda Gorman as well as a mention of Black History month being first recognized in 1976.

      And reviewing the email again, I missed that the text the link out was embedded in was “African Americans often refer to fried chicken as “gospel bird” and now I’m freshly horrified again

    4. OP 1*

      Also the recipe didn’t even look that good and is actually oven ‘fried’ with seasoning measured in teaspoons for a 10 piece recipe.

      So just bad all the way around

  31. KellifromCanada*

    OP#4 … please don’t place too much reliance on an informal job offer from an academic. I’ve had academics offer jobs to students, research assistants and post-docs and make a complete mess of it. They’ve offered jobs to people not legally entitled to work in the country, they’ve offered salaries that are thousands of dollars more than they have available in their research grants. They mean well, but many of them don’t know what they’re doing. Please wait for a formal offer from HR before you even think about suspending your job search.

  32. Esmeralda*

    OP 4: email from the scientist who interviewed you? Yeah, no. Do NOT make any plans around a non-offer like that.

    The scientist may have little or no power to make such an offer. I’ve been in academia and academia-adjacent (institutes, centers, etc etc) for most of my working life, and the advice Alison gives goes double for those employers. Even when the hiring officer tells you they can’t wait for you to start, the official offer and paperwork will be coming soon, do NOT believe it until you’re filling out your W-2. BTDT. Cancel nothing.

    You may also be able to negotiate a better package if you are still interviewing and especially if you are getting other offers. Handle that piece carefully, but for American academic institutions, that’s a tried and true method for getting better offers, salary bumps, etc.

    1. PostalMixup*

      Eh, at the lab tech level there’s often not a lot of wiggle room on salary and benefits. The PI only has so much money in their grant for personnel. You might get different offers from different PIs based on their funding situation, but I wouldn’t expect to use that in negotiation.
      That said, funding is always tenuous. Sometimes the funding line moves, and a score that would normally yield the R01 needed to support more staff doesn’t get funding. Definitely don’t cancel!

    2. Esmeralda*

      BTW, OP, your point that “people talk” is correct and it works in your favor. Other labs are interviewing you? That means you’re more desirable and they need to get their asses in gear if they want to make you an offer. I cannot think of an instance in my entire career, either in my field or that of my spouse or my friends in other academic disciplines, where “she’s interviewing at Lab Z? Oh well, we’ll move on to our next choice.”

      No. It’s “She’s interviewing at Lab Z? Damn, we need to see if HR can speed up the background check! Aargh, not again!”

  33. anonymous73*

    #2 – management always needs to be prepared for their employees to leave. Don’t let unfortunate timing guilt you into staying. Life happens, and while this may not be the ideal time, as long as you don’t leave them with a mess, you’ve done your part.
    #3 – If you’ve provided them with reasons when you withdrew, you don’t need to proceed further with any communication. How many times have you gotten rejected for a role and either received a form letter or gotten no real feedback? Sometimes it’s just not a good fit, and unless something egregious happened during the interview, you owe them no further explanation. Ignore it and move on.

    1. sofar*

      Yep. We need to normalize it being the COMPANY’S responsibility to think about how it will function if someone quits.

      My husband operated a small business for a decade and couldn’t afford to have “enough” employees so that it wouldn’t be a disaster if one quit. Employees quitting meant we cancelled vacations, had to miss a funeral, and that I attended many a wedding alone without him. Therefore, he eventually came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a viable business and CLOSED it because it could never cover the costs of employing enough people for coverage if someone quit/was sick.

      All this to say, I understand you feel guilty about leaving these very kind people in a lurch, but you’re not doing ANYTHING wrong.

  34. Antilles*

    One thing to remember is that *nobody* expects your resume to be a full listing of every single job you’ve ever had or every professional item you’ve ever been involved with. It’s a marketing document and intentionally limited in size, so nobody will blink twice about your examples from a part-time job not listed there.

    1. Delta Delta*

      This is a good point. You may be interviewing for some mid-late career stage executive-type job and remember an experience from working at a deli or retail shop in high school that was formative for you. If I’m applying for a job as General Counsel at a hospital, I’m not including my summer job at Big Al’s Tree Farm when I was 13 on my resume. If I’m interviewing for that job and I have to remember the time I had to deal with a deadline, I might remember that I had to get 20 rows of trees trimmed before noon, and that I had to adapt my work style to get that done in time, and that the skill/adaptation/lesson stayed with me for 30ish years.

    2. tessa*

      Yep, this. When I interviewed for my current professional role, I didn’t include retail experience from a decade past on my CV, but did mention the transferrable skills I picked up in my phone and in-person interviews. Both were nice, breezy discussions, as I recall.

    3. OP5*

      So I asked this in part because I’ve had an interview or two in the past where I did use an example from a job not listed and felt like I had confused or surprised the interviewer. Because of that I stopped doing it. But maybe that said more about the interviewer than about me/my approach. I think knowing this is a legitimate option will make me feel much more confident going into interviews!

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I think you should introduce the job first and that will avoid confusion. Say something like, when I was younger I worked in a retail shop, and give a couple of details about what type of shop it was and then tell your story.

  35. DG*

    As a follow up to #4 I would love a post where we share all the terrible advice we’ve gotten from our college career offices.

    Mine include:
    -Women should only wear black skirt suits to interviews. Pantsuits or skirt suits of any other color, including gray and navy, are unprofessional. (This was as recently as the late aughts/early 2010s.)
    -I should ask my relatives and family friends job opportunities, as that’s what most successful students do. (This was the only advice I received from a counselor at my career center at my ~fancy~ private university that I attended on a significant scholarship.)

    1. JustAnotherKate*

      In college, I was told that my Myers-Briggs type was so unusual that it would be hard for me to find ANY job. I don’t even remember what it was, and I’m pleased to report that no employer of mine ever used the MBTI to screen candidates.

      In law school, I was told that my interest in public interest law was absurd “unless your grades are shit” (they weren’t) and that if I wanted to “save the whales” I should “get it over with your first summer.” Once I had taken a public-interest job, I was told I should decline to put my starting salary on the school’s survey for fear of dragging our US News & World Report rating. (All by myself! In a class of 250!)

  36. o_gal*

    OP1, it could have been even worse. Many years ago, someone was tasked to write a company site wide email to announce that everyone was invited to a coffee get together to celebrate Black History Month. Only he decided to creactively spell it, so everyone was invited to the Kozy Koffee Kafe.

      1. Observer*

        I suspect that we know why.

        I’m too jaded to think that this was just “cluelessness”. The use of K instead of C has a history, so even if someone claimed that they “didn’t know” (yeah, right!) about the triple K, (I have a hard time typing it out. . .), this “creative” spelling should have triggered some alarm bells.

    1. Observer*


      I see I’m not the only with that reaction…

      The person who sent that, and the person who allowed it should AT LEAST be facing major scrutiny, and preferably firing.

  37. Observer*

    I haven’t read most of the comments on #1 yet, but I share the absolute jaw dropping astonishment. And I also agree that calling the “apology” insufficient is in the running for understatement of the year. It belongs right up there on the list of textbook cases of “How Not to Respond When You Have Made a Mess.”

    One line that jumped at mea was “mixed emotions”. Like, REALLY? Did a even a single Black employee applaud this with a straight face? Or do they mean “Some uptight wight chick rained on our parade and mixed her social justice warriorship into our back patting session?” And yes, that’s really disrespectful. But does anyone think that their attitude is NOT disrespectful and dismissive?

    To be honest, if you do leave, I think I’d be tempted to leak both the original email and the non-apology response..

  38. Christina*

    I’ve worked in a lot of Fortune ranked companies that read a lot like LW#1. My husband works for one now. It isn’t uncommon. At one, we changed our annual “Christmas Party” to a “holiday party” and served Chicken Cordon Bleu. I rolled my eyes. That was one that also gave liquor out. We had a all employee meeting at another that celebrated women – they had to bring in a speaker from another company since we didn’t have a highly ranked woman in the organization – they were actually a great company is so many ways – but diversity was not a strength (they were fundamentally an engineering/tech firm – not a woman and minority filled industry – finding minorities and women to even interview was tough). My husband’s made a huge public statement over “Black Lives Matter” and then had second thoughts about allowing it in email signatures (they did finally come down with “its ok since we’ve made a public statement with those words.”)

    The good news is that over 30 years in business it has gotten better – at least the performative diversity of “hey, have you heard about Juneteenth?!” “here are pictures of our corporate Pride float!” and “you can choose a vegetarian meal.” I still don’t see enough women and POC in leadership roles and I suspect women and POC are still paid less, promoted less, hired less.

    1. Observer*

      they were fundamentally an engineering/tech firm – not a woman and minority filled industry – finding minorities and women to even interview was tough

      No. Yes, the ration is skewed. But if they REALLY had a hard time finding anyone to even interview, it wasn’t a “pipeline problem”. At least not in the typical way the term is used. It was a problem caused by the reputation of the company, it’s inability to foster the growth of their own female employees, exclusionary requirements that (intentionally or not) filtered out women (and probably other marginalized groups) or any combination thereof.

  39. Mostly managed*

    #1 reminds me of when my college put out a black history month pizza with fried chicken and collard greens. just shockingly racist, especially for our northern, liberal university.

    1. Mostly managed*

      (Not saying it’d be better elsewhere, but the students were already heavily criticizing the admin for not doing better for black students + it wasn’t like those were just commonly eaten things that they’d put on a pizza because we had them._

    2. Meep*

      I live in Arizona and ASU (a school where the majority of the students are from California) keeps hitting the national news for the racist things their frats and sororities do around this time so nothing surprises me at this point. Think “black parties” with watermelon, fried chicken, and black face. They want to be the largest university in the country so I imagine this nonsense will continue for years to come.

      1. Jacey*

        Oh man, speaking as a Californian, we are as a whole state exactly as racist as the rest of the US. I’m from one of the liberal areas, where the racism tends towards structural issues, microaggressions, lateral aggression, and “well-meaning” white bs… but it’s still racist as hell.

  40. Meep*

    I admit I was bad and I laughed at #1, because of how absurd the idea of sending a fried chicken recipe for Black History Month is. Did you learn nothing from ASU (Arizona State University) over the years??? They are the poster child for what we white people should NOT be doing to celebrate MLK Jr. Day or Black History Month.

  41. Blarg*

    I hate the term “regret” but a choice I wish I hadn’t made around 2006 … I was frustrated in a poorly paying, client focused, emotionally intense job and started applying.

    I was a fairly new cell phone user and still felt compelled to always answer. I got a call about an interview on a day when the old job felt decent, and I answered it when I was in a room with colleagues filing charts. I didn’t know what to do so I just politely said I was going to stay in my current role.

    I don’t know that the other org was any better. But I often wonder …

    Unless you’ve learned new things about the potential employer (like that they sent a fried chicken recipe to recognize Black History Month), ALWAYS take the interview.

  42. alienor*

    #3, last year I tried to drop out of a hiring process and was literally begged not to because the company was so excited about me. I’d never had that happen before, so I agreed to keep going. After interview number six, they ghosted me and I never heard from them again, which would have been irritating anyway (six interviews is a lot of interviews), but doubly so because I’d given them more time at their request. I wouldn’t do any more than a polite email in your situation.

  43. Daisy Gamgee*

    How about, “bigotry is the problem of those with the privilege to wield it, not those whom it is wielded against”? In the context of employment and corporations in the US, that equation solves to “racism is a White problem in corporate America.” In other contexts it solves differently, but that doesn’t mean this issue doesn’t exist.

  44. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – at least you received a letter of apology. That’s a lot more than most managements would do; I agree, it wasn’t enough, and sometimes things like this are done with good intentions, but ill-advised direction. The intention was good but the end effect was offensive.

    The right thing would be a public apology AND = a “we’re going to have some diversity/sensitivity training going forward”…. but don’t expect it to happen. Managements would usually prefer to hand-wave/laugh it off and go forward and say “it’s all water under the dam now”, and not go down an introspective path.

    #4 – NEVER EVER withdraw from a job interview/candidate cycle UNLESS –

    a) you know the job isn’t going to work out -or-
    b) you have an actual job offer in hand (meaning = IN WRITING). Without that letter, you have no job offer.

    1. Observer*

      at least you received a letter of apology.

      As the OP notes, you could say that this is actually not an apology. And in this case whether or not this was intended as an apology, they would have been better off not sending it. It just rubs the offense in deeper.

      The intention was good but the end effect was offensive.

      The whole “impact vs intent” thing applies here. When it’s a 13yo (as in an example above) that’s one thing. When it’s corporate leadership, it’s another.

      But beyond that, this is so ignorant and the information is so easily available that I (and apparently a lot of others) don’t believe that the intent actually was good.

  45. Daisy Gamgee*

    #2, I would feel exactly as you do in your situation. I understand why you want to be helpful to your about-to-be-former employers by delaying your new job’s start.

    But this is fundamentally a business relationship. It’s totally ethical to put yourself first and to not risk your new job. A random stranger on the internet gives you permission. :) (Much more importantly, Alison advises you to do so.)

  46. Dasein9*

    Yeah, some 4 years ago I was at a client site, a F100 company, on the last day of February. The lunch served at the very fancy dining room was fried chicken, collard greens, corn bread, and yes, there was watermelon.

    I was dining with an HR rep.

  47. I'll Regret Saying This*

    Letter #1- 100% right to call that out. Your other examples indicate your company is definitely behind the times and needs inclusivity/sensitivity training.

    However…I envy the fact you’re secure enough to seriously consider leaving over this incident.

  48. Database Developer Dude*

    RE: OP#1

    Are you freaking kidding me? Am I the only one that thinks the OP should name and shame the company? “Happy Black History month, here’s a fried chicken recipe???” *doubleplus-facepalm*

  49. DJ Abbott*

    #5, I have ~10 years of short-term jobs as one item on my resume with a general summary of the experience. Maybe that would work for you?

    1. OP5*

      This is an interesting idea. Are they all in the same field and if so, is it a field where it’s common to work short-term jobs? My situation is more that I was just doing gigs/odd jobs usually to supplement some other work.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        It was temporary and short term “permanent” office jobs. At the time I wasn’t very good at holding jobs so I usually lasted about a year. I also did a lot of temping.
        It was 20+ years ago and now I include it because it shows I’ve done administrative work and have an extensive background in office support.
        You could just include the types of gigs you had, especially if you did more than one of each type, with a one sentence summary showing the experience of each.

  50. reaf*

    “There was also a link to a BBC article on the history of fried chicken being Scottish, not Southern.”

    That’s not how this works. That’s not how this works at all. Food doesn’t have one definitive origin, and a dish being from one place does not at all remove it’s cultural and historical significance to another place. Is pizza not a quintessential American dish because it originates in Italy? No, pizza can be both an Italian dish and an American dish at the same time, while being very different based on local tastes. A lot of traditional Irish foods are also traditional in England, Wales, and Scotland. Does that make them not Irish foods? No, they’re still traditional Irish cuisine. Fried chicken is a Southern dish, full stop, regardless of whether or not it’s Scottish, because fried chicken is very densely woven into the culinary landscape of the South.

    And now I kinda want to go on a rant about how American Chinese Food, Tex-Mex, and Cal-Mex are all totally legitimate regional cuisines, and constantly crapping on American Chinese food in the search of “authenticity” is crapping on the Chinese immigrants who made and popularized that cuisine in a wildly hostile atmosphere, and achieved something that’s stood the test of time and supported untold thousands of immigrant families. Their food isn’t “fake” or “inauthentic”, it’s an American cultural cuisine that’s as us as burgers or pizza, and we should be a lot more respectful of it.

    1. reaf*

      Also, in reference to authenticity, China is a place with the size and diversity of Europe, and the culinary diversity to match that, and every dish in Chinese cuisine has a billion variations and a very long history. And if you are in America, you don’t have the ingredients you would have in China. You cannot authentically replicate what you would be eating in China, it won’t be the same. So, yes, Chinese restaurant owners in America changed their cuisine to cater to White tastes and get business, but also, they changed their cuisine to use ingredients commonly and cheaply available in America, which they would have had to do regardless of whether they catered to common local tastes or not. Chinese food here was never going to be like Chinese food in China.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. It’s also pretty well documented that a lot of the changes predate selling to White people. As you say, largely to adapt to the availability of ingredients.

  51. TootsNYC*

    #4: don’t cancel a job interview on the strength of a promise of an offer.

    For one, there’s a networking component–you can make a good impression in this interview that will help you down the line. The hiring manager may remember you–I certainly do! And either at this company or another one they move to, them having a positive “asterisk next to your name” will be an advantage.

    For another, it’s good practice to interview. And you are not interviewing in bad faith.

    Sometimes job hunting is like dating, and sometimes it isn’t.
    In dating, you might decide to not go on a first date with someone else if you’ve already discussed, “maybe we could be exclusive” but haven’t actually said so; in fact, it would be very unwise to do that if you truly did want to be exclusive.

    This is not true in job interviews. I assume everyone I’m interviewing is not committed to my job until I have offered and they have accepted.

  52. quill*

    #1 Hooooooo boy.
    … That’s all I have to say to this bannanacrackers action from your company. Whoever approved that should not have been in charge of approving anything.

  53. freddy*

    OP1, I think it would be beyond appropriate to post clearly about your firm’s terrible DEI culture and stumbles on Glassdoor. This can help quality candidates steer clear, create recruitment consequences for the organization, and may catch the attention of leadership.

  54. Grace*

    #4: I had a Physical Therapist Assistant job offer that I accepted right before the boss went on medical leave for 6 weeks for surgery. I didn’t even apply for or ask for that job. She offered it to me out of the blue, because this is a place I was already working PRN and the new job was for full time. No papers were signed. I turned down other offers during that 6 weeks. The boss came back from leave and didn’t contact me. I finally contacted her 2 weeks after returning from her leave and she informed me they hired a Physical Therapist instead and that they wouldn’t be filling the PTA position. She never bothered to tell me that I didn’t have the job she offered me. Never assume you have a job until the paperwork is signed.

    1. Observer*

      Could we just stop this kind of nonsense?

      To be very honest, this does NOT sound like true concern for racism but concern trolling aimed at keeping people from acting on clear issues.

      Your claim that anyone needs “permission” to call out the racism here is what is racist. And, if you really didn’t mean it that way, it might help to look into the issues intent vs impact, and the Stepping on my toe” meme, which helps explain this in a very good way.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      Strongly disagree! As I wrote above, this is definitely not white knighting. This is about a well known racist stereotype (to the point there are several pages of google results on why it’s a problem!). There’s also a clear avenue to act without putting a POC on the spot or endangering them.
      There’s no reason to find a token black person (not all black people agree on everything! how many does OP need to ask? how would they choose whom to ask?) and put the emotional labor of dealing with this crap on them.

      1. Elle*

        Additionally, a person who believes this racist junk likely doesn’t value the opinions or feelings of the black people that are hurt by this bonkers email. Having a white person tell them the email wasn’t okay could carry more weight.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*


      No you do not need permission from a person of colour to speak out against racism. It adds another layer of emotional labour to us and frankly I’m effing tired of it.

      Reporting racism is NOT racist. No more than reporting sexism without asking a woman is sexist, or reporting ableism without a disabled person’s input is somehow ableist.

      It’s logical fallacy to think otherwise.

  55. moonstone*

    #4: You don’t literally have a job until both of you sign the job contract. Verbal promises mean nothing – trust me! (The same goes for rental leases, but that’s for another blog.) I know too many people who burned by informal offers that got yanked from them.

  56. yala*

    I just…like. I just don’t even understand HOW this could happen in the Year Of Our Lord Twenty-Twenty-Two.

    I guess you could say it’s ignorance, but it feels like an actual *effort* was being made to be horrible because. Just. Wow.

    1. yala*

      Also just kinda coming back because the “healthy version” thing is sort of like an extra slap in the face? Racist AND condescending.

      (and I’ll bet it tastes like napkins)

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          Well, that just won’t do.

          The proper measurements, as taught to me by my grandmothers, are based on how big a pile the seasonings make in the palm of my hand – until I learned to eyeball it while sprinkling them in the pile of flour.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Also somehow being like “we are leaning into the stereotype of associating fried chicken with black people, but also did you know it *really* belongs to Scottish people.” I am having trouble articulating why but I feel like that seems extra gross as well.

        1. yala*

          Same. There’s something additionally uncomfortable about it, but like you said, it’s hard to *articulate* it.

          Maybe it’s like…”Huh, ok, we’re gonna take a detour to talk about this recipe being Scottish. So…why is it being used in your Black History Month letter? Please say it out loud…”

  57. Ann Perkins*

    On #1, I wish I could find it harder to believe that there are more workplaces out there like my former one! They once had a “Black History Month” potluck, hosted by the local DEI Council, where the signup sheet included collard greens, mac and cheese, biscuits, etc. This was for a predominantly white office. People are so clueless.

  58. OP4*

    Hi, OP for #4 here. I want to clarify some things / add updates:

    1. The career center only advised me to cancel the interview at the same institution as a matter of extreme caution. It’s a large institution and the labs are in different departments, but I wanted to be very careful. (Now I know that was a mistake!) I have to defend my career center, though—they insisted that I keep the other interviews. Their advice generally matches up with everything I’ve read on AAM. The office is split by job sector and is mostly staffed by people with actual industry experience—one of the previous advisors for my field of interest ended up as a hiring manager at a large research institute. They also arrange a lot of pairings of alums in different fields with current students. I mostly rely on my professors for academia advice simply because it can be very niche, but my career center’s been mostly solid. A lot of the stories I’ve read about college career centers on AAM baffle me—I’ve never had such things come from mine.

    2. I ended up asking my current PI and he, too, insisted that I keep the interviews.

    3. Things, luckily, are coming along with the job offer. I haven’t received it yet, but my interviewer (the scientist I’d be working under) has been extremely responsive. Let me say that I am very sure I’d like the job—I met the whole lab, took a tour, discussed everything over with various mentors, and compared everything to both good and bad experiences I’ve had in other labs before. The lab’s a great fit, my supervisor and I click, and I love the research. Nothing, of course, is set in stone, but it’s very much a dream job for me for after graduation. It’s making it difficult to keep an open mind while I keep interviewing, but I’ll try! I really hope everything comes through.

    1. Dasein9*

      Yes! All best to you, OP4.
      Here’s hoping we eventually get an update that says “I did get the job and I’ve been at it for a while and it’s all happily ever after.”

  59. DrSalty*

    LW #3 – as someone who works in a very fast paced and deadline driven office and field, if a candidate told me they were dropping out of contention because “the fast paced nature of your work isn’t what I’m looking for in a new position,” or something similar, I would 100% understand and thank them for their honesty. If the people you’re talking to don’t get that, then they shouldn’t be hiring for that kind of environment at all and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are having massive retention issues. Frankly, screening out people who aren’t suited to that kind of environment is a big part of interviews. It’s much worse when new people join, suddenly discover they can’t handle deadlines or suck at time management, and then leave immediately. It’s not for everyone and we want new employees to come in with their eyes open.

    All that said, obviously you don’t have to give them anymore time if you don’t want to, or if you don’t think they’ll take it well. But I think you can just say you prefer a slower pace of work – in a brief email, for example – without feeling like you have to justify your decision. It’s a perfectly valid thing for anyone to want in their working life.

  60. The Assistant*

    About #3. I think this is the second post (I think there was one in Friday’s open thread) I’ve read about employers being overbearing about someone bowing out of running due to pink, sometime red flags. The flags get redder when they start leaving several messages after a clear no.

    Does anyone know why potential employers would do this? It seems unusual. Employers wouldn’t want us to stalk them if we’re turned down so I would think they’d get this is over-the-top behavior from them as well.

    So very odd. And it only confirms the candidate dodged a bullet.

    1. CCC*

      I’d imagine that folks who get good advice from one resource (and follow it) are less likely to write in to begin with. And when they do, I’d imagine that “I got this perfectly fine advice, is it fine?” “Yes, it is fine” is not a particularly interesting blog post.

  61. Twill*

    LW#1 I don’t get to read the column in real time so I never really have anything to add. Alison & other posters offer good counsel. I can only offer you a very sincere WTactualF?! I know it’s probably the right thing to do to want to educate, but I would honestly cut and run. Anyone Fortune 100 company that could be that boneheaded in 2 0 2 2 has so many bigger issues here.

  62. CCC*

    On behalf of college career centers that try very hard not to be awful, I would like to apologize for the foibles of my peers. Ugh. I would never. I love when students get multiple job offers. Why would someone suggest that?

  63. CS*

    #4 The school career center likely is telling students to cancel interviews when they get offers so as not to anger potential employers and stop them from working with the career center in the future.

    “Your student continued to interview and accepted another job offer after they had been given an offer by us! How dare they! We will never work with your school again!” That sorta thing. They’re just protecting themselves, which unfortunately is doing their students a disservice.

  64. Here we go again*

    Response to LW 1 and anyone who is not a Person of Color (POC). I am an African American woman. While I understand your outrage, you are correct in stating that you can’t imagine how a “black person” would feel. First of all, there are quite a few of us who don’t like being called “black”. Second, you will never understand how I feel. Such things have been my life. It started in elementary school and continued through college. 10 years after graduation, I attended graduate school on a merit based scholarship. I don’t talk much about the racist stuff that happened there, but let’s just say it permeated my existence until I graduated two years later.(this was near the end of the 20th century).

    I have been in the workforce for over 35 years, have an advanced degree, am licensed and credentialed. I work in a highly competitive profession. I can’t begin to explain the numerous overt and covert racist comments and experiences that I have endured and continue to endure at work and outside of work. Trust me, we POC know how to speak up for ourselves and often do. Maybe someone else (an African American), submitted their feedback before you did. The issue is not your organization; the issue is institutionalized racism, which exists everywhere. Not surprisingly, some of the worst offenders are “trying to be helpful”.

    Speaking only for myself, I don’t expect a Caucasian person to be outraged, or to stand up for me when it appears I have been insulted, mistreated, etc. What works for me is to solve the underlying issues. I’ve been through fried chicken and watermelon comments 35 years ago, 10 years ago…..etc. I’m more tired than upset. Overt racism is not nearly as common as covert and/or institutionalized racism. You can police other people’s behavior, but you can’t always change what they believe.

    I knew a Pacific Islander man, “Eddie” many years ago. He told me about the time he first went on a cruise. While he was walking through a hallway to his cabin, an elderly Caucasian woman asked him to get her luggage and bring it inside her cabin. His responded “I don’t work here” and he kept walking. I asked him why didn’t he get angry. He said “ if I got angry every time a white person was rude or evil towards me, I’d always be angry. I pick my battles”. That was good advice then and now.

    If I could change an organization, I would start with senior leadership, because the tone is set at the top. To level the playing field and to build cultural awareness and mutual respect, an organization should be proactive and have purpose driven, meaningful dialogue with the people of color, the people with visible and invisible disabilities, the people who are from less advantaged backgrounds, the people who hunger for education and opportunities that seem impossible, etc. This is by no means a complete list, but change has to start somewhere. The dialogue needs to be with a diverse committee within the organization and it must involve senior leadership. The committee needs to develop and leadership needs to implement plans to change the organization’s invisible and not so invisible cultural biases. The organization needs to provide opportunities for everyone who is qualified, to have developmental assignments or positions with mentors, in order to level playing field. If senior leadership is mostly white men and perhaps a white woman, and/or a token POC, they are likely clueless or don’t give a damn. The sole woman or POC is unlikely to rock the boat, for obvious reasons.

    Many of the positions I’ve held throughout the years may have had a few minorities. At times, I’ve had the dubious privilege of being the only one, and of course I was paraded about like a prize trophy so the organization could say “look, we’ve got one!” (Sigh). This still happens. I’m usually remembered simply because of what I look like. And people still think that’s how I got the job, in order to meet some “quota”. (Another sigh)

    I do not have the energy to get upset over cluelessness about fried chicken. Eddie was right. Pardon the expression, but I’ve got bigger things to fry.

  65. Butterfly ERG*

    I work for and am part of the ERG who sent the BHM recipe- The context is totally missing. 1st- poster- are you in the ERG? Guessing no. Why? Because if you were you’d know we voted on the Recipes that we posted, you know we talked about racial stereotypes and how white people created the racial stereotype for fried chicken and we wanted our voice back. it was thoughtful, that many white people are mindful of the stereotypes they’ve created created, however the mere fact the same group of people(not you personally) who created the stereotype of chicken , are now taking the voice away from the group of people who are trying to talk about food that was important to them, regardless of where it came from. Do you know the story of the poster, the “white women” you referenced? Guessing not, as if you were part of the ERG you would…. The fact that our narrative continues to be managed by a white population of people who feel uncomfortable, this is what frustrates me about the entire Recipe debacle. We should have never had to apologize to the white people feeling uncomfortable with a very stereotype they created. Trying to our voice back, trying to tell our narrative was and is our ERG’s goal. Instead of sending your well meant complaint- join the ERG and learn a bit about stereotypes.

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