Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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December 5th, 2005 11:18 PM

The Voice of Dissent

From: June Steward
To: contributions@michaelmoore.com
Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2005 8:20 AM
Subject: still fighting the civil war

Last Thanksgiving I worked at a large company in Sacramento that promoted health, charity and kindness. I worked as a contractor as a graphic artist. On my first day I was welcomed to a small cubicle that I shared with a person who had two Holy Bibles on his desk, a book of Stonewall Jackson and an old style radio playing a vindictive Rush Limbaugh type of talk show blurting out racist comments every second all day long. It was the day Colin Powell retired.

He was saying things like, "Oh, now we're losing a black secretary of state, now we're going to get a black woman secretary of state....blah, blah, blah." Loud and obnoxious.

It was my first day and I attempted to do my job. I'm a black woman from the San Francisco/Bay Area and had only been in Sac for a few months. I was in total shock.

I said that I didn't care if the talk show was about dairy milk, I didn't like the talk show personality's voice or what he was saying. My co-worker said that it was "political, not personal." Unfortunately, it was personal for me. My great-grand-uncle (Theophilus Steward) was the first Black Chaplain in the Civil War. A book was written about him called "Voice of Dissent." My father was a civil rights lawyer and my sister was the first African-American ranger in the State of California.

When I brought this to my manager's attention they said they weren't historians. I said having a book of Stonewall Jackson on his desk was like waving the confederate flag in my face. I was told to pack up my things and leave immediately.

Maybe it's a small thing, but it was big for me and it still gets to me that people can get away with this kind of stuff in the workplace.

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