After finishing my master’s, I applied for a couple of positions, and the first interview I was invited to was at a renowned research institution in my field. I was living in our capital at that time and the research institute is in a small city quite far from other major cities.
The head of the institute was present at the interview, and at the and of the interview, we had a little “personal” talk (while his other two colleagues that conducted the interview along with him were still there), and he asked me how living in the capital is, and added: “Luckily, in our little city, there are not as many migrants living as in the bigger cities.” From context, it was very clear to me and not only against migrants, but muslim migrants in particular. I was quite shocked to hear such blatant racism from the head of a research institute and was very tempted to say something, but in the end, I pretended as if I had not heard it and only answered his initial question.
I was mad at myself later for not speaking up. But I was afraid, at that time, that doing so might hurt my career (I am quite specialized, and in our field, many people know each other), because one does not simply accuse the head of a research institution of racism (especially as a lowly student fresh out of university).
So my question is: how can racist (or any other offensive) comments from a supervisor / professor or otherwise superior be addressed? Because I really think ignoring such things is very wrong (even though I did it myself).
Just as added information: although they offered me the position, I declined.