Thursday, September 28, 2006


Here is one of the most embarrassing behaviors to observe in the workplace…

An African American who is so self-loathing that they have to repeatedly tell every coworker that they are not 100% Black! I’m sure you’ve heard it all before:

“My great-grandmother is Italian.”
“My grandfather was Cherokee!”
“I’m actually West Indian. Yeah! We looked up my family tree and found out that my grandmother was from Barbados.”

Guess what? No one cares…ESPECIALLY YOUR WHITE COWORKERS!! I don’t care what complexion you are, how "fine" your facial features are or how “good” your hair is…when it’s all said and done, if you’re dealing with a racist, you cannot dilute your bloodline enough to prevent that person from hating your guts and actively targeting you for unequal or illegal treatment.

My sister once said to me, “Black people don’t seem to get it. The only difference between someone who is “totally” Black and someone who is allegedly of mixed race is…one is going to be lynched at high noon and the other will be lynched at midnight. One person may be seen as a priority, but they’re both still gonna hang!”

My sister is absolutely right. So, shut up trying to make White people fall in love with you based on your allegations that you are more like them than you are like other minorities. And, no, nobody wants to see your family photo album/proof that someone White is a member of your family. Big deal! As a result of the massive rapes that occurred during slavery and the intermingling of freed slaves and Native peoples, many African Americans have “something else” in their blood. I don’t care how dark, nappy headed or unattractive any self-hating person perceives other Blacks to appear. Many African Americans have so-called mixed blood. You are not special because you may claim to be or actually are mixed! Grow the f--- up!

You cannot often look and tell who has exactly what heritage. And, why does it matter? You’re in the workplace and you should be willing to be judged on your work. Instead, you’re trying to prove your acceptability by denying/diluting/marginalizing part of who you are. And, you’re not fooling anyone. Nor are you getting away with anything. If your racial breakdown really matters to someone…you are already non-existent in their eyes. What’s the saying? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Well, if they have to wonder, than you’re not…no matter what you rightly or wrongly claim to be.

The thing is, the people who act this way…many times people aren’t even asking them what their identify is. They’re just throwing it into conversations. They’re forcing this discussion on other staff. And, half the time, White folks still don’t believe them. I’ve had White staff come up to me and say, “You know so and so told me that she’s part Chinese.” And, they say this stuff with a smirk. They’re laughing at the person and the person’s need to share this with them. But, what’s most telling was that they repeated the person’s allegations to another so-called minority. When I’ve been asked, the White person wanted to see what I would say. In other words, would I validate what they were told or would I dime the person out as a liar. I don’t comment. And, I don’t like to see someone turning themselves into an office joke.

So, please do not keep mentioning being the product of a multi-ethnic background. We heard you the first time…and the 20th time! You are allegedly Native American, and/or White and/or Hispanic/Latino and/or Asian. So, stop bringing this up at meetings and stop bringing this up on conference calls, at lunch, on breaks, at the copier, etc. This behavior is the hallmark of a sick individual, who should be extremely desirous of some mental health intervention! That is not a joke. If you have to announce your racial identity, over and over again, you are insecure, weak-minded, have no idea who you are or what your purpose is, and you far too dependent on receiving the outside validation and approval of others. You need help! You need to ask yourself, “What is my point and why do I hate myself?”

I once worked with an African American who claimed to be so many other ethnic races; I don’t think she even existed. She claimed to be part Black, Irish, German, Native American, Chinese, Portuguese, and English Blue Blood (whatever the hell that is!). If what she said was true, she was literally nothing! But, she preferred being nothing to being Black.

So, take my loving advice:

The workplace is not the proper venue to repeatedly reveal your psychosis to others! Under what circumstances at work is this sort of routine “I’m not really Black” discussion warranted? The answer is: none. Say it once, if you must, and move on to showing people what you can actually do to earn your salary and any special benefits in the workplace. And, keep this in mind…no matter how special you think you are because of your racial makeup, you are no better and no worse than any other African American. At least, not based on that!

Employers Have Many Opportunities to Prevent and Correct Supervisor Harassment

An employer’s responsibility to exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct harassment is not limited to implementing an anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure.

If you’re in a situation where your employer has told you they’ve spoken to an abusive supervisor regarding misconduct against you, but the supervisor has failed to comply with the command that they discontinue harassing you, the Supreme Court has said this:

“The employer has a greater opportunity to guard against misconduct by supervisors than by common workers [because] employers have greater opportunity and incentive to screen them, train them, and monitor their performance.” Faragher, 118 S. Ct. at 2291.

Your employer has no room for excuses, when it comes to supervisor harassment. Your employer has many options available that have been listed in a previous post. These options include terminating the supervisor, placing the supervisor on probation, salary cuts, transfers, demotions, etc. The key is that your employer must exercise reasonable care to prevent and stop harassment or other misconduct.

Also, an employer’s duty to exercise due care includes instructing all of its supervisors and managers to address or report to appropriate officials complaints of harassment regardless of whether they are officially designated to take complaints and regardless of whether a complaint was framed in a way that conforms to the organization’s particular complaint procedures.

So, you can report harassment to any corporate official and they must take action by reporting your allegations to the appropriate corporate authorities. This is true whether or not you use the word “harassment” or follow a specific method of complaining of mistreatment.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Do not let White coworkers refer to you by the wrong name! This is sometimes a problem for Black employees...being mistaken for other Black coworkers or even being called by a name that is completely foreign to your job site. It's like, "Who is Rofiquio?" Unfortunately, some White coworkers don't think it's critical to remember the names of Black coworkers. For instance, I have been called several variants of my actual name. As a temp, I was called the name of the Black woman who had gone out on maternity leave. Yes, her White coworkers (whom she worked with for years) decided that she had gotten shorter, darker, cut her hair, and had a head transplant--overnight. Therefore, the very next day after she went out on leave, she actually came back as another Black woman! Oh, those wily Black folks! My suggestions is to protect your name. If someone calls you by another name, ignore them. I don't care if they are looking right at you. If they have marginalized you enough to not remember your name, they don't need sh%t from you!!! Yes, I had to go there. Why should you respond to another person's name? Your name has value. Your name is tied to your family history. Do not let anyone degrade it. If you receive email that is addressing you by another name (it's happened to me before), respond to the person by telling them you were mistakenly sent an email. If they say the email was intended for you, call them out on referring to you by the wrong name. If someone walks into your office or cubicle calling you the wrong name, look right through they are air. And, go back to what you are doing. When they call you by the wrong name again, dramatically look around and ask them who they are looking for. Go out of your way to say that you don't know who they are referring to. Make sure they get the point and they don't forget it. People have name plates outside their offices, on their desks or they wear name badges. More importantly, people introduce themselves to each other at work. Someone has to be going out of their way to repeatedly refer to a coworker by another name. So, give it right back to them! Call them by the wrong name! "Hey, Sally!" See how they like it.


DO NOT TELL YOUR WHITE COWORKERS THAT YOU ARE FROM "THE GHETTO!!" If you need to talk about where you are from, describe your community in a more positive fashion. Don't even say that you are from the "ghetto" as a joke. The white person you are speaking to will take you for your word and will begin to perceive you as displaying "ghetto" behavior that they believe they are familiar with. Everyone is familiar with the hip hop scene these days thanks to TV, etc. So, everyone is a damn expert on what is or isn't ghetto. Unless you are at some sort of hip hop summit, any disussion of the ghetto will be drenched in stereotypes. White people don't need to know you are from the ghetto. White coworkers don't even need to know if you ....are from a broken home....have a momma, daddy or grannie in lock-up....have a drug addict residing in your household....are in a dire financial situation (read: filing bankruptcy or about to get evicted)....etc. If you're going to play into stereotypes with White folks on your job, just go ahead and bug your eyes, while you shuffle around the office. Calling folks 'Massa will help you play into the stereotype!

Monday, September 25, 2006


Continuing my posts on behaviors Blacks should avoid in the workplace, today's suggestion not wear make-up that is for someone lighter than your complexion in the hopes that you can avoid appearing “too Black.”

You may think you look good. But, no, sweetheart, you still cannot pass for White! And, you look stupid.

I don’t care if your coworkers just came from Lilly White USA. They will not take one look at your ashy face and think that you are also a Lilly White-ian. But, they will laugh at your fresh out of a casket looking skin. Only Little Richard (or Don Cornelius) should be caught wearing Pancake #31.

So, wear foundation and make-up that matches and compliments your complexion—regardless of what color you are. There are probably only a handful of Black women that can get away with wearing that Barbie Doll shade of pink lipstick that White girls wear. So, if you’ve been wearing Barbie Doll pink lipstick, my Sistah…

please wipe that crap off. Right now! Go get a mirror. Really look into it. Love what you see. And, get a deeper shade of lipstick that does not make you look like a self-hating freak. You will gain no points with the Whites on your job, or anywhere else, by making yourself look like a clown.


Pass work along to those who can help you. I don’t understand why people choose to horde work. All you’re doing is setting yourself up to miss deadlines and make yourself appear that you don’t know how to function as part of a team. I guess part of the strategy of hording work is to look really busy, to feel important (simply by possessing a lot of work), and to demonstrate value to an employer (e.g., no one else can do any component of my job).

But, by showing that you can identify what it takes to get a project done or assignment completed, you are showing that you have a very clear understanding of the nature of the work you are performing.

Now, it’s one thing to try to pawn off pieces of your assignment on other staff. It’s another thing—and a positive one—to be able to explain why a team effort may be necessary to finish a job on deadline. For instance, one explanation for seeking assistance might be that there are nuances to a task that no one anticipated, which is making the work take longer to complete. You can take the opportunity to explain these nuances/glitches and then ask for one or two other staff to assist with such things as making phone calls, etc. That’s just one example of how not sitting on work (read: hording work) can work in your favor to show that you have the foresight to predict potential problems that can cause a missed deadline.

Another reason not to horde work…

you’ll only end up stressing yourself out and making yourself feel run down because you’ve got too much to do. At some point, that huge workload is guaranteed to come back to haunt you.

Or, how about this…

you’ll just piss off the coworkers who have to bail you out, at the last minute, to get work done. No one will forget that they could have possibly had weeks to work on a project, but were shortchanged of time because of you! People will think that you desire to be the workplace martyr who holds on to every piece of an assignment, but causes everyone to scramble to meet deadlines. No one appreciates being put in a crisis situation. If you create a pattern of hording work and needing to be bailed out, your supervisors and coworkers will think that you routinely mismanage projects, can’t prioritize/multi-task, and do not like to work with a team.

Instead of hording work, delegate work as much as possible. If you have to get approval to pass along work, do so. One of the best things about delegating work is that it provides you with opportunities to say that you’ve supervised the work of other staff. And, that added responsibility will go a long way to proving that you’re ready to take on additional responsibilities.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Do not try to impress White coworkers and managers with your mastery of the English language, as a way to prove your worthiness. This is especially true for anyone who has a poor vocabulary. It is way too easy to become the laughingstock of your office by misusing and mispronouncing words, as well as committing other acts of barbarism on the “Queen’s English.”

It’s all well and good to want to improve your language skills, but you don’t gain any cool points by butchering the English language. Your clients don’t want to hear you using proper diction as you mispronounce words like “specifically.” How many of us know someone who pronounces the word “pacifically”?

And, while some people mispronounce certain words, other people misuse words like “plethora” and “extrapolate."

You don’t have to sit down with a thesaurus every night, so you can drop $10 word bombs on your White coworkers the next day. Impress people with basic and properly used English. In many cases, it’s best to keep language simple to understand. This is even true for writing, depending on your audience.

I’ve overhead Whites in my office snickering behind the backs of Black folks who misused a word or two or mispronounced words in common usage. Don’t set yourself up to be a joke. Work what you have, while you work to improve all of your skills.

I shouldn't have to remind anyone of this, but STAY AWAY FROM EBONICS AT WORK!!


Have a trusted friend or coworker do a quick review of your work and get their opinion on how you can improve your assignments. Find a reviewer whose work you know to be of high quality and who can provide meaningful feedback on your assignments. You don't want to bog people down. But, for a really important assignment, it's probably wise to have a fresh set of eyes look at your work before you turn anything in. People will hold errors against you. These sorts of people have long memories. So, if you can work it out, find someone who doesn't mind giving a few of your assignments--here and there--the once over. And, remember, don’t ever ask someone to proof your work that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

Protection Against Discrimination Based on Culture

In today's business society, we hear people mention buzz words like "corporate culture" or just plain "culture." Maybe we're conspiracy theorists, but many Blacks feel the word "culture" is just code for talking about the good old boy's network (read: White status quo).

I've heard from several Black people, this year, that have met with White interviewers who have used the dreaded "c" word. These interviewees felt the White interviewers went out of their way to announce that their company had a "culture" they liked and did not want to disrupt. What stood out for the Black folks who heard this is that these "culture" comments were made by those who did the hiring at small companies with few, one or no Black employees. So, the word "culture" stood out tremendously. It was almost like having someone wave a "Do not Enter" sign in from them.

Where does the EEOC come down on this culture issue?

Well, Title VII prohibits employment discrimination against a person because of cultural characteristics often linked to race or ethnicity, such as a person’s name, cultural dress and grooming practices, or accent or manner of speech.

For example, an employment decision based on a person having a so-called “Black accent,” or “sounding White,” violates Title VII if the accent or manner of speech does not materially interfere with the ability to perform job duties.

According to law, it's all about whether or not you can do your darn job! That's what employers pay people to do, isn't it?


Sunday, September 17, 2006


I am going to be writing a series of tips on things that Blacks should avoid doing in the workplace. So, let's start our journey with...

Do not criticize the Blacks on your job simply as a way to score points with the Whites you work with!

Don’t act like you haven’t done it. Those who have, you know who you are. Perhaps you always like to criticize other African Americans on your job as being “too ghetto,” so that your White coworkers and managers will know that you are a “professional” and the other Blacks are not!

This catty behavior is simply uncalled for and harkens back to the Willie Lynch slave mentality that was ingrained in Blacks on the plantations. Why must we needlessly fight and bicker amongst ourselves, while others around us thrive?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s one thing to air real concerns or beef—about staff of any color—regarding poor work or inappropriate, unprofessional or odd behavior. But, it’s another thing to just look for crap to criticize other Blacks for as a means to show Whites that you don’t automatically align yourself with “your people” and that you are on their [the company’s/White people’s] side!

I know Blacks have been seasoned to assimilate as much as possible, but seeking to legitimize yourself at the expense of others is dead wrong! And, it doesn’t get you the respect of the White people you are so eager to dime your brothers and sisters out to. So, don’t be a…

Yeah, the word I’m looking for is “coon!” Don’t be a coon!! Stop running behind your Massa, while you try to put other Blacks up on the whipping block. Get some pride and do some damn work.

Try worrying about yourself. Only openly criticize other staff as necessary. Besides, the same White people you criticize your Blacks coworkers to are the same White people who talk about you the same way—behind your back. They probably think you are just as “ghetto” as those you point out. If not, they surely have some other negative perception of you to chit chat about.

What is an Adverse Action?

An adverse action is an action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include:

--employment actions such as termination, refusal to hire, and denial of promotion,

--other actions affecting employment such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations, unjustified negative references, or increased surveillance, and

--any other action such as an assault or unfounded civil or criminal charges that are likely to deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights.

Adverse actions do not include petty slights and annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation, "snubbing" a colleague, or negative comments that are justified by an employee's poor work performance or history.

Even if the prior protected activity alleged wrongdoing by a different employer, retaliatory adverse actions are unlawful. For example, it is unlawful for a worker's current employer to retaliate against him for pursuing a charge against a former employer.

For more information about adverse actions, see EEOC's Compliance Manual Section 8, Chapter II, Part D.



Don't forget to check out the archives link (on the right of the page) to get a look at past posts on racism in the workplace, including my series on labels and stereotypes--translated! There are two months worth of posts to check out. If you haven't already seen them, click away!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Store Manager Refers to an Employee as a "Black Bit%h" and "Token"

EEOC v. R.T.G. Furniture Corp. No. 8:04-CV-2155-T24-TBM (M.D. Fla. May 16, 2006)

The Miami District Office of EEOC filed a Title VII case alleging that defendant, a retail furniture store chain, subjected two female charging parties (CPs) at its Seffner, Florida Clearance Center to sexual harassment and one of them to racial harassment (race black). The store manager subjected both CPs to sexually offensive comments (e.g., calling them "whore" and "bitch") and unwanted touching. He requested sexual favors in exchange for approving sales that the CPs had negotiated.

He also subjected the black CP to racially offensive remarks (calling her his "black bitch" and his "token" black salesperson), referred to blacks as "you people," disparaged CP for marrying a white man, and referred to racially mixed couples as "Oreos" or "Zebras." The store's assistant manager also made sexually and racially offensive comments to the black CP. Both CPs complained initially to the store manager and subsequently to the corporate Human Resources Director, but defendant took no corrective action.

Under the 3-year consent decree resolving this case, the two CPs will share $275,000 in monetary relief.


Specific Way Employers Can Stop and Prevent Harassment

If you are the victim of racially-based or other harassment at work, your employer’s hands are not tied regarding effectively handling the situation in a manner that is likely to prevent your mistreatment from occurring again. Your employer has many options available to deter and stop harassment, regardless of the impression that those in authority (supervisors, Human Resources staff, etc.) may provide you.

When it comes to claims of racially-based harassment, companies do not like to respond—even though providing an adequate response to illegal behavior is in their best interest. Instead of squashing the careers of those who would harass a coworker or subordinate, many companies go into denial mode, which they believe offers some form of protection. In other words, if they didn’t know or “believe” that harassment was taking place, companies fool themselves into believing they are not legally liable for any damage that may have occurred to an employee’s career. But, deniability doesn’t automatically hold up under the law.

A company is legally responsible for preventing and stopping harassment from occurring. If you believe you are the victim of harassment (including retaliation and experiencing a hostile work environment), you should document everything that is occurring. You must show proof as to why your company must take action.

What can your employer do (or should be doing) to your harasser? Here are some options offered by EEOC regarding harassment in the workplace:

-- oral or writing warnings/reprimands
-- transfer or reassignment
-- demotion
-- salary cut
-- suspension
-- termination
-- training or counseling of harasser
-- monitoring the harasser to ensure that harassment stops

As you can see there are light and hard-hitting remedies available. It’s your job to know that these options are available to deal with harassment and to suggest some stringent form of punishment is doled out to your abuser. But, you have to prove your case or your company will sleepwalk through your entire ordeal. Document mistreatment, provide the names of witnesses who can verify your accounts and save harassing email and voicemail as proof that your abuser has gone overboard. Then, demand action is taken.

NOTE: Your employer cannot force you to transfer to another department to avoid your harasser. But, you can volunteer to move to another department if it is in the best interest of your career and/or mental health.

Naomi C. Earp is the New EEOC Chair

Naomi C. Earp is replacing Cari Dominguez as Chair of The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Between April 2003 and Sept. 1, 2006, Ms. Earp served as Vice Chair of EEOC. She created and launched the EEOC's Youth@Work Initiative, a national education and outreach campaign to promote equal employment opportunity for America's newest generation of workers. To date, the EEOC has held more than 1,600 Youth@Work events nationwide, reaching more than 112,000 students, education professionals, and employers.

Ms. Earps said, “As Chair, I will continue to emphasize the importance of positive work experiences for youth through the use of broad-based outreach, business and community group partnerships, and vigorous enforcement. In addition, I plan to focus on race and color issues -- in particular, enhancing the Commission’s efforts regarding race and color-based merit factor cases and cause findings. I anticipate that race and color issues will also arise in the context of the Commission’s renewed focus on systemic litigation. Furthermore, I plan to promote professional development for staff to ensure that EEOC employees are best positioned to address the complexities of discrimination and harassment in the twenty-first century.”

EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at


Monday, September 11, 2006


If you’re reading this and you’re Black, at some point in your career you’ve had to deal with White coworkers who like to do their version of calling Po-Po on you, by reporting you to your supervisor.

Depending on what the issue is, reporting a coworker may be fair enough. However, when you’re working under the Black Factor, people can have a field day complaining about you to those in authorities—for all sorts of petty and ridiculous reasons. For instance:

-- A white coworker may have provided you with instructions that you followed. However, this coworker did not like the results of the finished product. Instead of taking onus for the problems, since the work was done to their specifications, they report you to your supervisor and lay the blame on you.

-- You may not speak to a particular White coworker, in passing, because they do not speak to you, do not smile at you or otherwise acknowledge your existence (unless they need something from you) or because they have not responded to you when you’ve said “hello” to them in the past. However, this White coworker may report you to your supervisor as being distant, unapproachable, and claim that you are unfriendly toward them.

-- A White coworker may have sat on a project until the 11th hour before asking for your assistance in getting work done. The deadline is missed because the White coworker kept changing the requirements and/or continually gave you new information to incorporate into your work. Now, the missed deadline gets top billing as your fault. The coworker goes straight to your supervisor to tattle about the problem they actually caused.

One issue with dime droppers in the workplace how a breath of fresh air. is that they often leave out of their reporting any complicity they had in problems that have been caused, including but not limited to their mismanagement of a project, tasks or time, poor communication, their blatant incompetence, and their lack of a sense of accountability.

Another major issue is that dime droppers often don’t speak to the person they are complaining about, especially when that person is Black. Some White coworkers will completely bypass a conversation with a Black coworker in favor of calling in White reinforcements. Why? Often because of racist perceptions (e.g., he/she may get “ghetto” on me, Blacks can’t take criticism, etc.) and, even more often, because they don’t think they have to speak to the Black person. Period! Think about it. If you feel superior to someone, do you really have to belittle yourself by engaging in a discussion with that person? No! So, they go to speak to the person who can do something to that Black coworker…the White boss! If the boss is Black, some White coworkers will go over that person’s head until they find someone “suitable” (read: White) to complain to.

But, no matter the cause, there are some things you can do to battle dime droppers on your job.

Tip #1: Don’t give people ammunition. Do your job and do it right—the first time. Don’t chit chat with trouble makers and don’t a$s kiss! Keep your nose clean.

Tip #2: Document all instructions you receive. If people give you verbal instructions, email the person with the instructions in writing. You should clearly state that these instructions are your understanding of what you were asked to do. Ask that the person call you or email you with any clarification/corrections to the instructions. Always include the deadline you were provided to complete the work. And, always ask that any changes/revisions be forwarded to you ASAP.

Tip #3: If you were given instructions in writing, make a copy and file it away. Follow up with an email stating when you anticipate beginning and finishing the work (the deadline) and ask for any changes/revisions to your assignment to be forwarded to you ASAP.

Tip #4: If someone is reporting you to company authorities, without speaking to you about any issues they have, go speak to the person directly. Inform them that you are not accustomed to working that way (without mutual respect) and ask that they speak to you about any issues, should there ever be another incident. Remind the person that you are supposed to work and support each other as a team and that issues should be worked out amongst coworkers before involving any higher ups. Hash out any beefs. Do not let this slide. If you allow people to bypass you to report you to your supervisor, this will become their new favorite habit.

Tip #5: Follow up with your supervisor or whomever you were reported to and address the issue. Provide a copy of any instructions you were given and/or provide your side of the story—supported by facts. Let the person know that you take issue with your coworker reporting you and that protocol/courtesy should have required your coworker to approach you to discuss the subject before speaking to anyone else. Ask that this principle (mutual respect and positive communication) be reinforced to staff.

Tip #6: Document any problems being caused by dime dropping coworkers and report them, if the problem is pervasive and is causing a negative impact on your work environment. Speak to a supervisor and/or Human Resources about any recurrent issues.

SURVIVOR: Tribes Divided By Race

CBS has made the business decision that it’s wise to divide the “tribes”/teams on the show, Survivor, by race. The new season is getting under way with Black, White, Asian, and Hispanic teams. CBS has stated that they’ve divided the show by gender in the past and this new twist is a way to give the long-running reality series a breath of fresh air.

It sounds like a marketing gimmick to me, especially since CBS also announced that this twist was devised because critics have complained the show lacked diversity among participants. Well, if CBS was only after diversity among participants, they could have created diverse and blended teams. Instead, CBS went for the ratings bonanza that is virtually guaranteed by dividing the teams by race. Look how much free press the show has gotten in all types of media.

I’ve never watched Survivor. And, this twist doesn’t make me any more interested in viewing the show. But, what are your thoughts on the racial twist involving teams? Are you looking forward to watching the new season? Why?

Will you automatically root for the Black team or will you choose a favorite player/individual—regardless of race? (Ultimately, only one person can win anyway.)

Can anything positive come of this? Do you think this twist will do anything to further the discussion of race and racism in America?


Form alliances. Get to know staff and managers in the various departments around your company. However, you shouldn’t loiter. When you’re working under The Black Factor you are usually being watched! If the opportunity presents itself to briefly chat someone up, take advantage of this time to make a positive impression and to expand your network of company staff that can support your career goals.

Words of caution on alliances: You may not always be able to rely on your allies in a highly visible, pressure-filled situation/scandal. People will generally not put your best interests ahead of their personal job security and the financial well-being of their families—no matter how close they are to you.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Study: "Dark-Skinned" Blacks At Hiring Disadvantage--Despite Education!

According to a recent study, dark-skinned Blacks face hiring disadvantages because of their skin tone—despite their education. Even thought I don’t know where the color line falls regarding “dark skin” (remember the paper bag test?), I believe 100% that color is still a major issue for Blacks working in America.

Here is the full text of an article about the study:

Skin tone more important than educational background for African Americans seeking jobs, according to new research from the University of Georgia
Writer: Philip Lee Williams, 706/542-8501, Contacts: Matthew Harrison, 678/773-4662,; Kecia Thomas, 706/542-5197, Aug 15, 2006, 08:30

Athens, Ga. – Everyone knows about the insidious effects of racism in American society. But when it comes to the workplace, African Americans may face a more complex situation—the effects of their own skin tone.

For the first time, a study indicates that dark-skinned African Americans face a distinct disadvantage when applying for jobs, even if they have resumes superior to lighter-skinned black applicants.

Matthew Harrison, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia, presented his research today at the 66th annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Atlanta. Along with his faculty supervisor, Kecia Thomas, a professor of applied psychology and acting director of UGA’s Institute for African American Studies, Harrison undertook the first significant study of “colorism” in the American workplace.

“The findings in this study are, tragically, not too surprising,” said Harrison. “We found that a light-skinned black male can have only a bachelor’s degree and typical work experience and still be preferred over a dark-skinned black male with an MBA and past managerial positions, simply because expectations of the light-skinned black male are much higher, and he doesn’t appear as ‘menacing’ as the darker-skinned male applicant.”
While there have been other studies of effects of colorism socially, this is the first study designed specifically to examine how it operates in hiring and in the workplace.

In America especially, Harrison says, when people think of race or race relations they commonly think of black and white. In fact, skin tone differences are responsible for increasing differences in perceptions within standard racially defined groups such as “blacks.” This diversity within races based on skin complexion has a long history but only recently have researchers begun to understand what these differences can mean.

Participants in the study that Harrison, himself an African-American, directed for his master’s thesis included 240 undergraduate students at the University of Georgia, some of whom participated in the study voluntarily, while others got class credit for their involvement. While there was a disproportionate number of females in the study (72 percent), this was due to the high percentage of women majoring in psychology at UGA and was adjusted for in reporting the research.

Each student was asked to rate one of two resumes that came with one of three photographs of a theoretical job applicant (one man, one woman) whose skin color was either dark, medium or light. Harrison manipulated the skin tones of the applicants with Adobe Photoshop so facial characteristics could not be included in how the students rated the job applicants.

“Our results indicate that there appears to be a skin tone preference in regards to job selection,” said Harrison. “This finding is possibly due to the common belief that fair-skinned blacks probably have more similarities with whites than do dark-skinned blacks, which in turn makes whites feel more comfortable around them.”

Harrison refers in his paper to numerous studies that show that light skin is almost universally valued among all racial groups. Hierarchies based on light skin are prevalent in Hindu cultures in India, for example, and in Asian and Hispanic cultures as well.

“While the respondents in this study were University of Georgia students, we think we would find the same response no matter where such a study was done in the country,” said Thomas. “When you consider that probably no more than 1 percent of industrial and organizational psychologists are black, you can see why a study like this just hasn’t been done before regarding colorism in the workplace. There are real-world consequences to these issues.”

Harrison said he was surprised that skin hue was even more important than education in evaluating job applicants.

“Given the increasing number of biracial and multiracial Americans, more research similar to this study should be performed so that Americans can become more aware of the prevalence of color bias in our society,” he said. “The only way we are going to begin to combat some of the inequities that result due to the beliefs and ideologies that are associated with colorism is by becoming more aware of the prejudices we have regarding skin tone due to the images we are exposed to on a regular basis.”

Society, he said, equates lighter skin with attractiveness, intelligence, competency and likeability, while we are often given a “much more dismal and bleak picture” of those who have darker skin.

“The more we challenge these images and our own belief systems,” said Harrison, “the greater the likelihood we will judge an individual by his or her actual merit rather than skin tone.”

The Academy of Management is a leading professional organization for scholars dedicated to creating and disseminating knowledge about management and organizations.

Founded in 1936 by two professors, the AOM is the oldest and largest scholarly management association in the world. Today, the group has more than 16,000 members from 97 nations.


What Information Is Important To Take When You Leave A Job?

A reader has asked for my advice regarding what information they should take with them, before they leave employment at their current job. This is a great question because once you’ve left a company, your opportunity to get vital information is gone. I am including two lists.

The first list is an accounting of some of the things you should take with you, if you have an outstanding complaint/grievance against your employer. Even if you have not officially filed an external complaint and do not know if you will pursue legal action, this is information you should take with you.

The second list includes some of the items that employees should ensure they have, even if they are leaving their job under the best/positive circumstances.


--A copy of your company’s personnel manual or, at the very least, the applicable sections that are germane to your case

--A copy of your company’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies

--A copy of any written warnings you’ve received, including performance deficiency memos or emails that are meant to document patterns of negative behavior or work performance

--A copy of your job description to show your official responsibilities (you can use the description to show how you may have been bogged down with many unofficial tasks that would ensure you failed to fulfill the requirements of your job)

--A copy of your timesheets

--A copy of the position for which you were seeking promotion or may/could have been promoted to fill

--A copy of performance reviews

--Memos and email that prove your case/claims

--A list of incidents that support your allegations of harassment, etc. (including dates/times)

--Organization charts that show the hierarchy at your company/of your department

--A list of superiors that you reported harassment, etc. to (including dates/times)

--A copy of congratulatory email/”thank you” email demonstrating that you did a good job performing your work

--Photos of any graffiti or racial slurs that were used to attack you

--Tape recordings of nasty/offensive voice mail messages

--Witness statements by those who witnessed harassment, etc. or, at the very least, a witness list of those who saw or heard things that happened to you

--Performance review guidelines that should have dictated how your review was composed and the appropriate evaluation standards for your position

--A copy of any email/memos you’ve sent to superiors or Human Resources complaining about mistreatment (include any responses received)

--A copy of your resignation letter


--An official copy of your job description

--A copy of your performance reviews

--A copy of congratulatory email/”thank you” email

--Writing samples – Writing can be an equalizer that makes you competitive with those who have degrees or more advanced degrees than you possess. Many people write poorly, including the college educated population. You are extremely valuable to an employer, if you write well. Always keep samples of your work. This includes keeping samples of any technical writing or proposal writing, as well as any writing for specific audiences (e.g., teens, AIDS patients, etc.)

--Design/product samples - For instance, if you oversaw or coordinated the work of a creative team or vendors

--Product shots -Stock photos of any finished products that you helped create

--General samples of your work, specific to your field (e.g., research analysis reports)

--Letters of recommendation – Make sure to get positive written feedback from your superiors and coworkers before leaving any job

--Phone numbers for oral references – Line up your references as you pursue other work opportunities. Find out what phone number your references would like to be called on (Some may want to receive a phone employment verification call on their cell phone and not their work phone)

Always think about what information is specific to your job/field and compile information that can be included in a portfolio of your work.


Be pleasant to everyone. This includes being pleasant to janitorial staff, security guards, etc. Why? Because it’s the socially appropriate behavior and because no one likes an a%s! Besides, you never know when you may need someone to unlock your office door or to walk you to your car during a late night at work. But, more importantly, you may need work-related favors from other staff at your job. Someone you mistreat may end up in a position of power or in a position to prevent you from succeeding on a project—just like Omarosa stuck it to Kwame on The Apprentice.

When I worked on budgets, very few people valued what I did, especially new employees. But, I knew how crucial budgeting was to the work being done by the company. My mindset was, “You’ll need something really important from me before I’ll need something important from you.” Sure enough, coworkers (who lacked an ounce of respect for me) would need a last minute budget for a high-profile contract or for an impatient client. Once they realized they could not get what they needed, without going through me, they’d come to my office smiling so hard I saw 64 teeth instead of 32! These coworkers knew they were at my mercy because I had other budgets requests that were submitted in a timely fashion for equally important clients. And, they knew that they would be a%s out, if I wasn’t able to help them.

Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to beg or grovel to get work from a coworker because you’ve been disrespectful to them in the past! Treat everyone with common human decency. You’ll be better off.
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