It can be awkward when work friendships turn sour. Even more so when it’s because one of the parties is being disrespectful in the workplace itself.
Something similar happened to a Redditor who goes by 2baverage who turned to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some objective thoughts on an uncomfortable work conflict.
”AITA for snapping at a work friend for calling me Becky with the good hair?”
The OP (original poster) explained the workplace offense:
“He’s my work friend and over the past year he has gotten into the habit of calling me ‘Becky with the good hair’, we’re the only POC at work in a predominantly well-off White area and we’re friends so our greetings are often various nicknames and terms in ways that we’re not able to express ourselves in large portions of our days.”
“At first I laughed off Becky because he obviously meant it as a term of endearment. When he continued to do it I eventually asked him to please stop because I was tired of having to explain what it meant to other coworkers when they kept asking me, and it had gotten to the point where both customers and staff started calling me Becky.”
”He responded by saying ‘well you do have good hair so why can’t I say it?’ even after I explained that others were calling me Becky. He continued doing it and when I asked him to stop again and explained in a different way that I didn’t like being called that.”
“I told him I had no problems with the other stuff he calls me, but to please refrain from calling me Becky with the good hair. He laughed it off again and said that I look White to the White folks so why get mad when he points it out.”
”So a few months go by and he’s still doing it and I’m still having to explain to people that my name isn’t Becky, giving a watered down version of what the term means, and more or less why I’m being called that.”
“I recently finally snapped and it ended with us having an argument.”
”He felt justified in calling me whatever ‘White name with good hair’ he felt like because we’re work friends and most White people think I’m White at first glance so I shouldn’t be complaining when he’s just poking fun at my privilege.”
”I told him that I know I’m White passing and don’t need it to be constantly announced throughout the day. I have a hard enough time with people remembering my name as it is.”
”I don’t need to keep correcting them more than usual and I definitely don’t want to have to keep explaining myself because it doesn’t feel like a cute term of endearment anymore.”
“It’s starting to feel more and more like some schoolyard sh*t and I’m tired of it.”
“We haven’t spoken in a couple of shifts, we’re still courteous and work appropriate but I feel like there’s a massive wedge now.”
The OP asked Redditors to weigh in and rule:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors agreed OP was NTA and her coworker needed to respect her.
“NTA. He is being a wanker and just fyi, he is not your friend. If he were your friend he would respect your wishes and stop doing this schoolyard nonsense.”
”Now, sit him down, tell him it is serious and that if he doesn’t stop, that you are forced to take this up with hr and that that is not something you really want to do but will because of the disrespect he is showing you.”~GEoDLeto
“When you’re laughing, it’s a joke. Once you’ve told him to stop and he keeps doing it, it becomes *sshole behaviour.”
”When he starts actually arguing with you that he should be able to keep calling you an arguably derogatory term because (insert umpteen shitty rationalisations here), it’s becoming harassment and something you should probably consider taking to HR if he hasn’t finally extracted his head from his nether depths. NTA.”~snootnoots
“I think he’s also passive-aggressively trying to ‘out’ her as POC to everyone they come in contact with. Probably resentment, possibly fear of being viewed as the only one of color if OP isn’t viewed as such. Whatever the motivation, the nickname is a form of harassment. NTA.”~mouse_attack
“I had a coworker who constantly did this to people. He’d give them ‘nicknames’ but it was always just… a different name that he said in a b*tchy way. Like one coworker he’d call ‘Jessica’ but pronounce it ‘Jess-ka’ in a sassy voice (she particularly hated it because it was her husband’s ex’s name).”
”No matter how many times she politely asked him to use her real name he kept doing it until one day she yelled at him. And then he tried to pull the ‘it was just a joke, don’t take things so seriously’.”
”But all the other people he’d been doing it to chimed in and said ‘seriously dude stop, she’s the only one who actively hates it but none of us like being called Judy or Marissa or whatever’ Anyway long story to say that OP is NTA even if there weren’t the racist undertones present in her story.”~Pioneeress
”NTA. The guy is being a disrespectful arse and refuses to accept ‘the joke is over’. He highly likely has internalized issues regarding his own colour and is projecting that onto you.”
”As a fair skinned POC I have plenty of experience and observations where colourism is expressed through ‘jokes’ or backhanded comments from folks darker than myself. As a friend and work colleague, he should’ve just respected your boundaries and stopped.”
”I suspect if you were to report this to HR – which you’re well within your right to – it would cause a whole set of new problems with him.”~MissCurious75
This was definitely not how a “friend” would act, hopefully the coworker in question learns their lesson.