Was a Missed Promotion a Matter of Race?

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Social Q’s

I am a 30-year-old white guy. For three years, I have worked for a clothing company. My credentials are great: I graduated from an Ivy League college, I’ve been in fashion for my entire career, and my reviews have been excellent. But when the time came to replace our department manager, who transferred to another group, the company promoted a woman of color with a less impressive résumé (and four fewer months at the company) instead of me. I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything, but I feel demoralized. What should I do?


Your ego is not your amigo — especially when healthy self-esteem turns to privileged self-importance. Just to be clear: What you are not accusing your company of (but sort of accusing it, anyway) is promoting a less qualified woman and racial minority over a better-qualified white man. And the evidence? Your college diploma and 120 more days on the job. Grow up, dude.

You are silent as a stone on the qualities that really matter in a manager: setting smart goals for your team, coaxing the best out of everyone (with sweet carrots or sharp sticks, as appropriate) and putting out a ton of fires. Résumés do not often speak to these skills. So, be bummed out. You’re entitled. You didn’t get a job you wanted. But don’t imply that the process was rigged.

Instead, head to your former manager or to human resources. Ask if they thought you were a good candidate, and what you can do to make yourself a better prospect the next time out. It puts them on notice that you are serious about growing, and it’s more productive than whining. Even better, you may learn about a blind spot on that 14-karat résumé of yours.

For the Sake of the Son

My sister shut me out of her life several years ago. I have no clue why. She made it clear that she is angry with me and doesn’t want to speak. I made several unsuccessful attempts to work it out, then I stopped. But I do speak with her son. We’re on very good terms, and I was just invited to his wedding. But I don’t relish the prospect of spending a day at an event where I am not welcome. Help!


Go! If only for your poor nephew, who probably had to walk through Johnny Cash’s “burning ring of fire” to get you on the guest list if his mother dislikes you as much as you claim. It’s his wedding, not hers, and he wants you there.

Could it also improve your sister’s perception of you, watching you behave kindly toward her son? Possibly. (Or not.) But a loving word of congratulations to her in the receiving line couldn’t hurt. Only caveat: A wedding is no place for grinding through the hard stuff. So keep it light. And polite.

Try Not to Try

I am ready to start dating again after my relationship of three years ended six months ago. We met online, but I’m not in the mood for that now: 20 endless text conversations that go nowhere for one that ends in a date. Still, I know all my co-workers and friends’ friends. I’m not meeting anyone that way. My friends tell me to join activities, but I have. I’m social, volunteer, play sports, etc. But no dates! Dating at 23 was easy. My life was always changing, so I met new people. But at 32, my life is more constant. What do I do?


It sounds as if you’re ready for Elon Musk to put aside his “colony on Mars” nonsense and get cracking on a battery-powered boyfriend generator. I also hear your frustration. You feel you’re in a rut. But rather than telling you to lean into it, and schedule even more activities and clubs and internet dates, I have another idea.

Relax more. In my experience, the less goal-oriented I am, the more open I can be to opportunities I might not otherwise see. And I never turned up more potential dates than when I was on vacation — at my most relaxed. Go for a few long weekends to the Berkshires or Woodstock. Hit the road. Or take a day off work for a mini-staycation (but without a 50-item To Do list). Give it a try. If it doesn’t work, Tinder will still be here when you get back.

When in Rome …

I am in a relationship with a Roman Catholic fellow. I am lapsed from the church, but I like to accompany him when he goes. I think it strengthens our bond. Is it O.K. for me to sit through the service, in quiet contemplation, or should I sit, kneel and stand along with the rest of congregation? I want to be respectful without pretending I’m something I’m not.


I vote for following the congregation, out of respect. Seated contemplation is well and good, but not so much when those around you — and whom you have intentionally joined — are celebrating such holy moments (to them) that they are obliged to stand or kneel. No one will call you a fraud.