On rare occasions, trying to find compassion can be difficult. Stepping back to realize that people do and say things partly because they are a product of the environment and society that they were raised can only go so far when they do not take accountability of their own actions and statements. I try to have compassion for everyone but, being human, I sometimes struggle. For example, yesterday at work at my temp job, I heard one of the less-than-classy workers discussing with some other employees what they were going to order for lunch. Now, between her hacking smoker's cough and the tail end of bronchitis, I thought I heard her say something about ordering "Chink" food. Now, I am not quick at jumping to conclusions and I do have some hearing loss, so the first time I wrote it off as an "I must be hearing things" moment. But, no, I was not. I heard her use this same racial slur two more times over the next few minutes.
For those of you who do not know me, I have preface this with: I am not easily offended. I have a twisted sense of humor. I also have no problem if a friend calls me a Pollock when I do something dopey (or any name from my varied heritage) because I take into consideration the intent of the comments. Now when people are using terms ignorantly or hatefully, that has a whole different effect on me. Add on to this the fact that I have a Filipina sister-in-law who I love and respect and my brother was injured because of an intolerant asshole. Top this with being raised as a woman who does not take bullshit from people.....
Needless to say, I was getting livid hearing her use this term. Deep breathing helped keep me from going off on her and subsequently being asked to leave my temp job prematurely. Better to be responsive than reactive in a professional setting. Once centered, I prepared myself to intervene (calmly and maturely) if she used the term again. She was finally calling it Chinese food at this point.
As I continued on with my mindless busy work, I thought about what might have made her feel that it is okay to talk like this around an office. I thought about why she might not have thought or cared that she was offending anyone. I came up empty.
Later in the day, there was talk about pregnancies and babies (another co-worker took the day off because one of her daughters was having her first baby) this same illiberal woman told another coworker how she was glad she smoked during her pregnancy so that her daughter was born small and her labor was easier. (!!!!!!!)