Charla Huber: I thought my friends were racist, but it was my own bias showing up


There’s an old saying that if you point, there’s four more pointing. And in this situation, these fingers were pointing at me

Recently on a work trip I flew to Prince George. My colleague and I took a taxi to the hotel and chatted with the taxi driver for a bit.

As we passed a restaurant, he mentioned that he was also a driver for DoorDash and had taken several orders there. We mentioned that we hadn’t had dinner yet.

In the morning, we were in the lobby lobby waiting for a cab, and a DoorDash driver drove past us.

“Hey, that’s the same guy who drove the taxi last night,” said my colleague, who is also a longtime friend.

I didn’t recognize him as a driver and didn’t pay too much attention to it.

I thought, “Is she racist?

The taxi driver and DoorDash delivery man were both South Asian. I didn’t notice if it was the same person or not. I just assumed my friend was wrong in her assumption.

My friend is white with blue eyes and blond hair.

I said nothing at the time.

Another friend of ours was on the trip, hired for the videography. He joined us in the last few days.

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and our server was an Asian woman.

The next day we went out for sushi before heading back to the airport. As we entered the sushi restaurant, the videographer turned to us and said, “I think the waiter is the same person who served us last night.”

Again, I hadn’t noticed and I was like, “Is he racist? Can he be racist in this situation if he is Korean?

As we sat and ate, I mentioned these two cases to my friends in a friendly way.

The videographer then asked the waiter if she worked at the hotel.

“Yes, I served you dinner last night and you said you were leaving today,” she replied.

I then apologized to my two friends. If one was correct, the other could easily have been too.

It was my own biases and judgments that showed, and ultimately, the more inappropriate part of both situations was me.

As we talked more, my blonde friend said, “Did you notice that I’m the only person the sushi waitress asked if I needed a fork?”

It’s worth noting that while we try to be inclusive and respectful, and sometimes helpful, it may come across as rude, biased, or stereotypical.

In this situation, I never openly criticized my friends for their comments, but internally I did.

There’s an old saying that if you point, there’s four more pointing. And in this situation, those fingers were pointing at me.

There is a lot of talk about unconscious bias and working to address it. When I find moments like this that demonstrate my own bias, I see it as a positive time for growth.

Sharing our learning, and sometimes our shortcomings, can help others do the same. Far too often we spend time judging the actions of those around us, and not enough time reflecting on our own actions and thoughts.

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