Right about this time last year, there was an incident in Central Park in New York City. A white woman was out with her dog, in a part of the park that’s specifically designated as a bird watching zone. She was letting her dog run around off leash when they came upon a man who was there to watch the birds. The man asked her to put the dog on leash, because, you know, dog running around ≠ birds hanging out.
The woman apparently got offended by this request, and instead of being cool about it and leashing the dog, escalated the situation pretty quickly — to the point where she threatened to call the cops on the man.
Threatening a Black man with the cops is a big deal.
It was only a few weeks after that that George Floyd was murdered by police.
Juxtapose that story with this, which arrived in The ‘Snark’s inbox recently and presumably in some of yours, too:
This may seem like an unfair comparison. These are two TOTALLY different contexts.
However, we would be willing to bet that the person who wrote that marketing email from Tuck Admissions was white.
A large number of Black people? They do not want to meet with an “Officer” about anything. They wouldn’t volunteer to step up and have a conversation or ask questions of an “Officer.”
We wouldn’t be making such a big deal about this except that it’s so easily avoided. Even saying “Ask an Admissions Officer” would have been better. Or even easier is to avoid the issue completely. There’s no baggage with the term “Admissions Director” (as far as we know!).
EssaySnark will point to this as backup to this assertion about people of color not being that keen on speaking with “officers” since we are not ‘Snarks of color:
This may seem like an unfair, or even petty, criticism, but hey, it’s something that jumped out and it seems worth mentioning. When the schools say they want to be equitable in their admissions and they are focused on increasing diversity and having a student body that’s representative of the broader culture, then paying attention to language is important.
The same goes for any of you seeking to be good managers and future leaders. Cultivating sensitivity to such issues, especially around language, is important.