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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A controversial issue

A strange thing happened at work this week, which I am not sure I should even write about, as it is quite a sensitive issue. Nevertheless, it is one that has really got me thinking.

About a month ago, a new Kitchen Manager was appointed, whom I and most other staff, get on very well with. However, for some reason one of the care workers, who is from West Africa, does not seem to get on with her at all. I suspect this is because this particular girl has a habit of taking things from the fridge for her own consumption which she is not entitled to. The Kitchen Manager has pulled her up on this a number of times, but she continues to do it, sometimes under her very nose, hoping it will go unnoticed. It may seem petty to pull her up on this, but the thing is that all departments, the kitchen included, have a budget that they need to stick to. If that is regularly or even occasionally over used, then the money has to come from some other budget - and more often than not this is the wages bill, meaning that there is less money in the pot for overtime, bonuses and wage increases. This then is something that affects us all.

Anyway, a few days ago this girl was caught red handed, and the Kitchen Manager once again pointed out that she was not entitled to consume this particular product - that it was meant for residents and not staff. The Manager went on to say that since she had already poured it (fruit juice) into her mug, she might as well consume it, upon which the girl went over to the sink and poured it down the drain. The Kitchen Manager was understandably very unhappy at her actions and further words were exchanged, upon which the girl stormed from the kitchen muttering words to the effect that the Kitchen Manager 'had a thing about black people'.

This shocked and upset me, for it is a serious allegation to make, and since the Kitchen Manager had left the room by then, I felt obliged to inform her. She in turn felt she had no option but to discuss the matter with the Care Home Manager, whom once she had calmed down, went and spoke to the girl who had made this allegation. Thankfully she did not wish to make an official complaint, but had she done so, I made it clear that I would have backed the Kitchen Manager up, for the comments that she made had nothing to do with the girls appearance or race, but were merely pointing out the fact that she was in effect, stealing, taking as I said previously, something that she was not entitled to.

The whole episode left a rather nasty taste in the mouth and has made me re-assess the way that I relate to this girl, in that I have seen a side to her that I do not much like. It seems to me (and I realise that this may sound controversial) that many black skinned people are far too quick to use the race card when they are caught out for doing things that they should not - when I worked in retail, it was not unusual for black shoplifters to use the race card and insinuate that they had been banned or removed from the store because of their skin colour, rather than because they had been caught shop lifting or up to no good. I mean, I have never heard of white person using the race card and stating that someone dislikes them because they are white, so why are black people so quick to use this?

I recognise that as a race, blacks have been greatly abused and mistreated by our society and that racism continues to be a cause for concern, but in this situation, the girl was clearly seeing things that just were not there. I don't know either what her history is and whether she has been subject to racist taunts in other areas of her life that cause her to feel this way, but if this is so, then she needs to get help and not take her problems out on other innocent people. It is just not the way to go. I mean we all have issues (I know that I certainly do), but we need to take a step back and learn to channel our anger in a positive, non damaging way that does not affect others.

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