Tuesday, March 27, 2007


monday, one of the only managers in my department was leaving for the day and came to see me. he asked if i would keep an eye on some of the newbies hired recently and make sure they were doing their job. he told me that if any of them were screwing around, i was to tell them to get back to work and then let him know.

i gave a phony smile and said that i would.

yeah right. i'm not like that. i have no desire to be one of those employees. plus i'm not getting paid for that. there are already employees like that at my job who would have been happy to do the duty, but they weren't there that day. i like being friends with everyone at work. it would feel awkard telling my peers to 'get back to work'.

and then i started thinking about how at every job that i've ever had, there's always been a buster. someone who you could count on to run and tell the management if you're slacking, tardy, or screwing around.

the funny thing is, those employees were never black. always white. i've been a favored employee but that's where i draw the line. i've never known black employees to be the ones stepping on others to (try to) get ahead. and i'm not condoning screwing around at work, or not letting someone know when another employee's behavior is seriously affecting your job. i'm just talking about snitching for the sake of snitching. snitching because you just can, when it's not really your business. and i've known plenty more white people who've made others' secular life a lot harder than black employees have. it's just what i've noticed.

i'm not sure if not being a buster is a black thing, or if being a buster is kind of a white thing. i guess it works for them. but i don't think if /when black people do that, they'd have the same results or advantage.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered, for a moment, that it's possible that not everything is about race? I know that would disrupt your whole "I'm special because I'm black" thing, but really...

JMac said...

I just found your blog and can't stop reading. I admire the way you aren't afraid to put it out there and I can relate to a lot of what you're saying about PDX, although I'm white (but originally from the south).

If I saw you in the library, I would be more drawn to you than another white mom. And, not because I thought you were black and fascinating; I just think you'd have more interesting things to talk about, a broader perspective. But what would I represent to you? White people can easily make statements like "not everything is about race," because we have no idea what it's like to experience racism. I'm here to learn more, so keep on truckin' with your thoughts! Thanks again for sharing your truth.

Terell said...

Come now Anonymous. Your condescending and border line racist comment lead me to think you don't think much about racism. Also the fact that you left no identifying information suggests, to me, that you knew what you were doing.

I feel as though the blogger is asking a legitimate question. I am no historian, but I can imagine that if we put this idea in a historical context, it might make some sense.
Given slavery, Jim Crow, and the countless other forms of hardship black folks have endured, one might understand how a group would develop an aversion to institutional authority. Thus being a snitch for masta (I mean management) might leave a bad taste in a black person's mouth.


Again this is just an idea.

Anonymous said...

"i gave a phony smile and said that i would."

that's what makes me lose faith. how can anything really change when you're just being passive aggressive?


Natalie said...

Part of the customer service course I teach is about loss prevention and knowing when to talk to management about other issues. Most of my students are black (all are 17-24) and I have never seen such aversion to talking to management. We talk about how you not reporting theft on the job could lead to both you and the thief being fired. They are all like "I get it but I'm no snitch" I am the same way, although I have an easier time talking to mamagement about problems (although it has to directly effect my job too) when my managers are black also. I think it may have something to do with a do it yourself attitude because relying on people to reward what is supposed to be seen as good behavior can backfire attitude. Great post.

Anonymous said...

i'm in my first job with a "buster," and i've had a lot of jobs. and it isn't even her fault -- the boss asks direct questions and she isn't going to lie. so i blame bosses for creating an environment where you have to snitch to survive. really unpleasant.

i can understand why you see things through a black/white lens, but i've worked with a ton of white people, and only the one i work with now has been a snitch. terell's speculation about slavery makes sense, though, too.

Aly Cat 121 said...

Dayum girl where you work, at a dayum coal mine? Jeez. I really hope the dayum manager didn't really ask you to "keep an eye on folks" and to "tell" if they are slacking. I mean WTF? *rollin eyes*

lc said...

Seems like Terrell is the only one on here with any historical perspective. Geez, even Roots, on TV, showed us how the overseer thing worked in southern US slavery. An overseer was a slave given "special priveleges" for being a buster (a nicer shack, another slave, for example). That buster had a whip. I don't see how African American culture would NOT have evolved without a reluctance to embrace this divide-and-conquer role. Overseers were hated, despite the fact that they too were slaves.

I also think this is one of TBG's most interesting posts.

You can find many more sources than Alex Haley at the library to learn more about the workings of slavery in the US, and draw your own conclusions about the resulting cultural impacts.