ISSUES IN THE WORKPLACE: Letting Black Coworkers Swing in the Wind!
How many of you felt, from personally knowing some, most or all of the facts involved, that the Black employee/manager was being falsely/maliciously targeted for employment actions/punishment?
How many of you spoke up (volunteerily or otherwise) to disclose what you knew that may have supported the Black employee?
Don’t all raise your hands at once!
Black employees, who’ve been working any length of time in the American workplace, have grown accustomed to seeing “certain types” of African Americans targeted for employment actions or accused of such things as being “insubordinate” or of “having a bad attitude” or being labeled as “not fitting in” on a team, in a department or in the company, as a whole.
We’ve also grown accustomed to seeing “certain types” of African Americans routinely passed over for promotions, being ignored by management, or targeted for mistreatment, abuse or mockery by White coworkers.
And, what has that taught many of us?
FAR TOO MANY OF US HAVE LEARNED TO MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS BECAUSE “CERTAIN TYPES” OF BLACK PEOPLE HAVE A BULLS-EYE ON THEIR BACK!
In other words, we’ve learned—through assimilation techniques at work—that there is a high cost for getting on the wrong side of certain White coworkers or members of management. We’ve learned these lessons through our personal ventures into sensitive territory (read: racially-sensitive issues at work) and we’ve learned these lessons by watching how other Blacks have been systematically taken down:
--for speaking “too aggressively” (read: being outspoken) about unequal and unfair conditions/disparities at work;
--for being too damn good at their job, which threatened other staff;
--for being in management, which was resented by staff;
--for seeking advancement opportunities;
--for demanding respect from unprofessional, racist, ignorant or rude White coworkers; and
--for speaking out against a White coworker, who was at fault for an incident involving a Black coworker.
That, my friends, is why so many Black folks are willing to let another Black person swing in the wind.
Do we owe another person something simply because they’re Black? That’s up for debate. But, what would we expect others to do for us, if circumstances were switched around. Oh, if it were us, we’d want everyone to rush to Human Resources to expose lies and half-truths. We’d expect this because it would be the right thing to do. But, when others have their jobs on the line, many of us feel compelled to let that person hang. Right or wrong, we’re going to leave them to the lynch mob.
We’ll watch them swing. And, we’ll complain to other Black employees and have a great big pity party. “Girl, you know Susie set her up. She wasn’t even in charge of that. I heard Susie tell her…” We’ll share what we know with everyone who isn’t in a position to do a damn thing about it. Truth is, it may be selfish to remain quiet, but the reality is it’s also safer.
The Black coworker/manager may be out of a job, demoted, suspended, transferred or written up, but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t stop many of us from losing a single night of sleep!
This is just one of many issues that Black workers have to deal with. To speak up or not to speak up, that is the question!
What do you think? Have you witnessed an African American coworker or manager targeted at work, but you didn’t speak out to tell what you knew—that could have helped that person? Why did you speak out or why did you remain silent? Post a comment or send an email to email@example.com.