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Southern Guy Accused Of Racism At New Job For Using Colloquialism That Sounds Like Racial Slur

Compassionate Eye Foundation/Mark Langridge/GettyImages

Reddior southtowestconfused is a 24-year-old bi-racial male who wanted to get away from a “super conservative” area in the South and moved to California.

He discovered social assimilation was a challenge when his contribution to a casual discussion at work caused drama.

After a major accusation prompted him to defended himself, he visited the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:

“AITA for talking about things from the South when I moved to California that resulted in several coworkers calling me a racist and reporting me to HR?”

The Original Poster (OP) wrote:

“Me: 24 m[ale] raised for most of my life in the southern us, politically middle of the road, probably lean a little left, half white, half Egyptian so light skinned (relevant later) think Rami Malek.”

“I moved from the southern us to Cali about 6 months ago, I have a pretty noticeable southern accent, I started work in my field (office job) when I got there.”

“I moved for 2 reasons, job and I wanted to get away from the super conservative area I lived in. Office is pretty large and pretty diverse as far as racially. Now onto the story.”

“Coworkers and I were discussing camping, was a fun talk until mosquitos were brought up, one coworker said something to the effect of ‘I always get bit and itch for days, they are the worst.'”

“I then said ‘mosquitos are easy! We have chiggers and they are a million times worse if you get a bunch of them!’ (tiny bug makes you itch for days to weeks, its awful, they are all over the south). We finished the conversation and everyone went back to work.”

“Next day I was pulled into HR with several of my coworkers to try and mediate an ‘issue.’ One black and one white coworker that were a part of the camping talk had reported me for being racist, they say any word near the n word is racist, and because I’m white I can’t use that term as its so close.”

“Chiggers are what EVERYONE calls them. I told my side of the story and also informed them I was half Egyptian (which I phrased as I was born in AFRICA to a white mom and Egyptian dad) which is relevant in a minute, here’s where I may have been the a**hole.”

“HR basically said doesn’t look like a problem (after googling the chiggers) and is a misunderstanding. I asked my coworkers if we couldn’t throw the race card around and just because I’m light skinned and have a southern accent doesn’t mean I’m a racist.”

“They both basically started apologizing like crazy saying they didn’t know, etc… etc… Basically I pulled the race card asking them not to but I feel mine was justified?”

“What do yall think?”

Strangers on the internet were asked to declare one of the following:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

A majority of Redditors thought the OP was NTA.

“So instead of asking what ‘chiggers’ are they assumed you were saying something close to the N word? While you guys were talking about insects? Wth??”

“NTA.” – TheAmethyst1139

“Your coworkers were praying that this ‘new, dumb sounding hick’ was racist otherwise it proves their rhetoric wrong that ‘everyone from the south is racist.'”

“F’k those coworkers.” – vixiecat

“Worse, it almost sounds like they knew what it meant, but in their wokeness have decided that ‘any word near the n word is racist’ — ‘near’ as in ‘just sounds a little like.'”

“It’s disingenuous at best.” – StAlvis

“This is the kind of stuff that bothers me, when people know better but still decide to raise a stink for whatever reason. Obviously some people need to read the boy who cried wolf again.” – cjpren11

“NTA. I’ve never lived south of the Mason Dixon line and ‘chiggers’ are still a term I’m well familiar with.” – StAlvis

Some Redditors commented on the absurdity of the coworkers’ accusation by mocking it.

“I really wanna know what OP’s coworkers would think if he started talking about his favorite childhood character, Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.” – 404errorlifenotfound

“This made me snigger.” – Grizzly_Berry

“Next time I zoom with my knitting group I am opening with that. ‘What’s up my knittas!’”

“The old Black grannies in the group are going to love it.”

“ETA: /s I forgot to add that. I’d never do that to these Black grannies. Now, the Black Aunties in my second knitting Zoom group? Absolutely.”

“Their favorite pastime is to collect the worst racist jokes they can find and laugh at us white ppl as we squirm in horror and try not to laugh because some of them are hysterical and absolutely vile at the same time.” – purrfunctory

“What if OP had bought clothes too small and needed a size bigger?!?” – SubliminationStation

“Wouldn’t want to mention alcohol measuring devices, people who dig holes, people who rig things, things that are in the process of becoming more large, certain synonyms for physical health, certain synonyms for activating something and/or specific types of switch, people who get into relationships because their partner is wealthy, being unbending, or people who are obligated to do something either.” – Sleepycoon

“You shouldn’t have to compromise. You’ve done nothing wrong. People can’t just screech ‘racism’ because there are words that exist that happen to share spelling with a slur.”

Here’s the bottom line:

“I am from California and I learned about chiggers from a book that called them by this name.”

“NTA coworkers shouldn’t have just assumed your race or that you were being racist.” – depressedcatburrito

“From the sounds of it, the co-workers were perfectly well aware that OP had said CHigger, but are of the opinion that a white person even rhyming with the n-word is somehow racist.”

“I agree though, it’s as if they are so desperate to be PC that they actually go all the way through to the other side and become reverse-racist.” – KahurangiNZ

“That’s like saying since leotard sounds similar to the r-slur, no one’s allowed to say it, even though it’s a piece of clothing.” – -too-hot-to-handle-

Chiggers—also known as Trombiculidae, are a family of mites—and many Redditors said they were cognizant of what they were irrespective of the region they grew up in.

A good majority of Redditors also agreed the OP was innocent in the situation and the whole thing was an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Koh Mochizuki

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a New York-based actor and writer. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, he received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese. Disney parks are his passion, and endless cups of coffee are a necessity. Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1