I work in an environment which, by the very nature of what we do, has to be politically corrrect, not just in word, but also in spirit and in deed. I am a passionate advocate for what we are trying to achieve, a feminist without being a fanatic, a voice for the rights of people who someties get trampled on every day, in overt or subtle ways.
My background screams activist, I don’t give a flying duck about where people come from, their culture, religion or the colour of their skin. I believe that everyone, everywhere, deserves the same chances, the same rights and has the same obligations to each other.
Which is fine, until you put me in a politically correct environment.
I assume my brain processes it like this: “okay cells and cellettes, we are entering the zone where we have to be careful about what we say. So be bloody careful, alright?” All the cells and cellettes chorus “yes, of course, wouldn’t have it any other way”.
Nobody notices, least of all my brain, that there is a small, renegade groups of c&cs going “uh-huh yeah, right, in your eyeball, buster!” And then it happens … at the worst possible moment, the renegades manage to infiltrate the good ‘uns … and this sort of situation arises:
Meeting with the staff welfare lady and a representative from a major weight loss group who need to find a place to hold their meetings … so we view several meeting rooms and my brain cells and cellettes are going “need a space that is private, can hold equipment and leaflets, be big enough for all (admittedly) large attendees, okay don’t mention anything size or weight related, don’t mention …”
Renegade brain cells are going “we’re bored, we’re going to embarrass you”. The nice c&cs chorus “NO!” However, it’s too late …
My mouth opens and before I know it, I am describing meeting room number 5,629 as “a bit of a squash”. Cue two horrified faces looking at me …
And so it goes on … no matter how much I try not to mention a sensitive topic, my renegade brain cells insist on pushing through … however my most cringe-worthy moment was a few days ago …
October is Black History Month … I am asked to help arrange a massive piece of promotion for it. It is to be held in a pretty busy space which is normally used for something else entirely and this needs to be borne in mind when organising it. In the UK, there is the rather shameful history of several of our towns grown on the proceeds of the slave trade, trafficking in human beings for profit.
It is as important to acknowledge this as it is to pay homage to the tough time immigrants had coming to the and settling in the UK in the 50s and 60s, in search of a better life for themselves and their children.
And of course, our current immigrants, most of whom, despite right wing press coverage that would have one believing otherwise, want nothing more than that better future.
So many people in the UK happily accept and acknowledge the 50s and 60s immigrants on the one hand and on the other, reject our new wave of immigrants as spongers and wasters, much like their forefathers rejected the Black people who came here 50 years ago …
I guess you can tell that this sort of event is close to my heart and something I believe in completely.
And yet what happens when describing the complexity of having an open event in a space already busy with a service that by its nature attracts a huge proportion of the office into it?
Yeah … my mouth opens and I explain that we “need to be careful not to impede the traffic of people across the area”.
Just shut me up completely, now please …