Dear Prudence

Help! I’m a White Person Who’s Tired of Working on Diversity Initiatives at Work.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

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Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. Rejected: I work for a large national nonprofit. About 95 percent of the clients we serve are people of color, while about 60 percent of the staff are people of color. I am white and possess underrepresented identities (obviously unrelated to race).

For the past year and a half, I have spent about 50 percent of my time working on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. I engage in this work nearly every day—running and project-managing large national initiatives to attract and retain employees of color, and to address racist incidents that have occurred in our nonprofit’s past.

I am so ashamed and embarrassed to say this, but I am getting really burned out at work, and working on these initiatives is contributing to that. I engage in so, so many conversations about retaining people of color—increasing their pay, engaging in “stay” conversations with them, being flexible with their hours and work location to ensure they stay with the organization—and no one is having these conversations with me! I constantly hear things like, “we need to make sure there are people of color in the finalist pool” for jobs that are posted, or “she interviewed well, but we really want to hire a person of color for this role” and between that and hearing about how damaging white employees are, I feel like I’m no longer wanted at this organization. No one is checking in to see how I’m doing or ensuring I want to stay. Meanwhile, my administrative work is really the backbone of making sure these employee-of-color-centered initiatives are even getting off the ground in the first place!

I know it’s so important that our organization reflects the clients we serve. But I’m on the verge of quitting to work somewhere whiter, because hearing all day every day about how we don’t really want to hire white folks if possible, as I spend hours of overtime on DEI-related tasks, is taking a toll on my self-esteem and self-worth. I know I’m being overly defensive and taking this too personally. But I can’t help it. Do you have any ideas on what I can do to fix these feelings within myself?

A: It sounds like you should move on. Apply for new jobs. This work isn’t rewarding for you, and there’s no way you’re as effective as you could be if you’re approaching every day with resentment and defensiveness. Your organization deserves someone who is on board with its mission. Meanwhile, you should sort out for yourself whether your commitment to diversity ends when you begin to be inconvenienced or made to feel uncomfortable, or when people like you aren’t prioritized—and whether you want to change that. It’s definitely something worth exploring. But do it while you’re not on the clock.

Classic Prudie

My husband had three grown children before I married him. His two sons are successful adults, while his daughter would rather do anything than work. We arranged for jobs, and she didn’t bother to show up. We stopped giving her money after it became apparent all the “emergencies” were made up (give her rent money, and it would never be spent on rent).

She and the kids live with her maternal grandmother. We visited last week and had an early Christmas. We made sure all the grandchildren had new shoes and winter coats, and we bought bikes for the older two boys. Only our oldest grandson let it slip when we called that as soon as we left, his mother stripped her children of all the gifts we gave them and tried to return them to the store for cash. She sold the bikes for a pittance online. My husband is furious, and I feel sick.