Facebook brings out the worst in all of us, including me.

I lived in St. Louis for seven years. My first HR job was at Leaf Candy Company. We made Switzer, Good & Plenty and Chuckles. It was a busy and vibrant factory, later featured in a Michael Moore movie when Hershey USA purchased the brands and killed those union jobs by moving production to Mexico thanks to Bill Clinton, Al Gore and NAFTA.

(It was all so confusing.)

The factory was located on the north side of St. Louis. We recruited heavily from North County. I saw some pretty fucked up stuff during my short time at the plant. Racism. Violence. Drug abuse. Neglect. Illiteracy. Unbelievable poverty and hunger.

(That job changed my life.)

I don’t own the facts, and I’m not an expert on institutional racism in America, but I am dumbfounded by the awful things my HR colleagues are saying.

It’s a media conspiracy. St. Louis isn’t a racist town. It’s out-of-town black activists who are making a big deal out of this. And why doesn’t anyone say anything when a black kid kills other black kids? Why aren’t black people stepping up and protecting their property from looters? And how many cops are killed daily by black kids? And did you know that black activists are being bussed in to protest?

How do you argue with that? You don’t. You read Facebook in your hotel room when you are stranded due to a cancelled flight. Then you FaceTime with your husband and take this photo because you’re frustrated with morons on the internet and goofy photos make you laugh.

Photo on 8-18-14 at 12.13 AM

HR is the one part of a company with a mandate to push for social change and create a culture of understanding and inclusion. I know HR people who use code words to say racist things. I have friends who confuse fact with opinion and arrive at racist conclusions. I talk to people with clumsy language who try to make a point about race and wind up saying racist things. I know people who have never said a racist thing in front of me until they spoke about what’s happening in Ferguson. I know people who view history from a privileged lens and don’t understand how they can be racist. I know people who say, “Stereotypes exist for a reason.”

Yeah, okay.

I am not marching in solidarity on the streets of Ferguson, but I’ve been deleting racist colleagues on Facebook. That’s the best I can do from my hotel room on a Sunday night.

And I can post fun pictures. That’s something, I guess.


  1. Sneaky racism, code words, hidden racism….these are the most dangerous types. The crazy aunt who regularly preaches hatred in the corner at family get-togethers can be laughed at and marginalized. The plant HR manager who secretly expects all African Americans to fail…that’s where the crazy lives.

    • It’s sad when the crazy has a voice and a social media following of more than 23 people and says things like, “It’s not racist to be pro-police…” and then go on to say racist things that make cops go, “Yeah, that’s sorta racist what you said there.”


  2. 1,000% agree. I’ve been doing the same, while hoping our kids’ generation gets it a little more right ours. 🙂 Commence goofiness!

    • Agree. I also think — why do I care? I don’t have kids. I’m going to die and my footprint is small.

      Then I wake up out of my coma and realize I’m exactly the person who should care!

  3. Having lived in St. Louis virtually my entire life and currently working right down the road from where this is all happening, I totally understand where your frustration is coming from.

    My opinions on what is happening have obviously been shaped by my own personal experiences. I am thankful that I have shared many meals with, attended many church services with and found myself in places I would never have gone by myself with African American friends.

    My perspective has been altered by these, and many other, shared experiences. I am thankful for that.

  4. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. I’ve heard this discussed so many times – I’ve been included in lump statements on either side. Either I need to say more because I’m a white woman who grew up in a very homogeneous community in the South, or I need to hush up and let the grown-ups talk because I clearly have no idea what I’m saying.

    I just delete racists. Either from my actual life or my Facebook feed. (If you have to preface with “I’m not racist, but…” I will put you on my personal watch list too.)

    My contribution to society? I don’t post pictures of my feet, and I publicly don’t care for Pumpkin Spice Lattes. That’s pretty progressive for a suburban mom. I also don’t own a single piece of Vera Bradley anything, and although I do have a Coach bag it’s plain black leather with a very small silver logo oval.

    I mean, you could say I’m changing the system from within and I am fine with that.

  5. I grew up 30 miles from Kansas City, MO. I was 6 years old when race riots ravaged Kansas City following MLK, Jr.’s death. 30 miles away, we could see an orange glow on the horizon from the fires set by rioters. We had no color TV, but I have a very vivid memory of the reality of what was happening.

    Now I am 52, and I am hearing people say the same things about Ferguson they did in 1968 about KC and other cities affected by riots.. Have we learned anything?

    It’s really hard to NOT be disillusioned.

    I wish there was more that HR pros could do to move things forward. But damn if I can figure out what that would be.

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