Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Don't Let Whites In The Workplace Tell You How You Should Feel!

In the workplace, some Whites feel it is their moral obligation to tell Black coworkers how they should feel about to certain incidents, comments or actions.

This isn’t about opinion. No, this is about White workers literally telling a Black person they should or shouldn’t feel a certain way about racially insensitive comments, actions, etc. For instance, let’s say a White worker makes a racist and insensitive comment. Black workers complain and are told by Whites that they, “…shouldn’t feel that way (or take it that way).” Or, they may be told outright, to “not be so sensitive.” This completely disregards the feelings of the Black workers and actually marginalizes the workers with the assumption that they aren’t even smart enough to interpret routine day-to-day communication, standard English (normally their first language), and racist insults or actions.

I’ve experienced this myself—more than once. For instance, I’ve been told (by an HR rep and 2 supervisors) that the only reason I took racist actions “that way” was because I was an emotional person and that I was overreacting to the situation based on my “state.” I was also told that I had a high level of stress. I was told that my stress—and not the actions—were causing problems for EVERYONE at work.

So, not only was I being told that I couldn’t I understand how I felt, but I was told my feelings were faulty from the get go! Not only that, but my feelings were causing issues for Whites throughout the company! I even received the lowest ratings on my performance evaluation for upsetting the chain of command with my alleged hysterics.

Well, that trick only works on the weak minded. I know how I feel. I know that I’m not a sensitive person. I know that I wasn’t jumping to any conclusions. And, I know that an initial probe of my allegations, by an outside State agency, revealed at least 2 incidents of illegal misconduct against me. The investigation is still currently ongoing.

So, my advice to every Black reader is to remember that YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE EXPERIENCING RACISM! So, don’t let other people tell you how you should feel about:

--being called by a racial slur;
--being compared to a jungle beast or some other creature;
--being on the receiving end of racially insensitive remarks or comments;
--being disrespected, demeaned and ignored or marginalized based on race or race-based stereotypes;
--receiving extra scrutiny and criticism because of your race; or
-- having someone White using employment actions to harass you and to create a hostile work environment because of your race.

Some people come right out and say what's on their minds--no matter how negative or offensive the comments are. But, others are more covert. Nevertheless, your powers of observation, your listening skills, and your life experiences let you know when a person is behaving a certain way—universally (regardless of race)—and when they only behave a certain way, when dealing with Black workers. For instance, there may be a White worker that is only extremely rude and demeaning, when they must work with Blacks. Any other time, this person is the post card version of a socially acceptable and professional employee.

Or, you have a manager that goes out of their way to get training opportunities for White subordinates, to fight for great assignments for White subordinates, to fight for promotions for White subordinates, and to fight for big salary increases for White subordinates. The only problem is that this same White manager will do NONE of those things for their Black subordinates. In fact, this manager may go out of his/her way to criticize their Black subordinates, to keep them performing the same work at the same responsibility level, etc. The only employees this White manager champions for are those that are the same race as him/her! And, in this example, that’s all you would need to know to see there’s an issue on your job.

And, that gets back to my point. You know how a comment or action makes you feel, how it has changed your work environment, how it has impacted your career, salary, etc. So, don’t let people impose a false reality on you. Don’t allow someone to tell you what you must think or must feel about something. Your feelings may be dead on and this person may be simply trying to protect themselves, a coworker, a person in authority or the company—as a whole.

Everyone thinks in lawsuit terms these days. Unfortunately, many White workers will defend a White perpetrator, will say they don’t know anything about an incident to avoid involvement, may lie to protect the company or engage in other behavior that serves to protect their own interests. People have families. They are usually not going to lay down their careers for someone, especially someone of another race. That can be said about many of us!

I just want to drill home the point that a White coworker could have any number of motives for trying to dictate how you should feel about a race-based incident (company loyalty, sympathizing with the perpetrator, seeking reward/benefit for their actions, etc.)

When a White person is telling you how you should feel, what is it really based on? They haven’t experienced the trials and tribulations of being Black in America. They can relate to you as a person, with certain general and shared experiences, but they can’t relate to you on race. So, how can a White person dictate to you how you should feel or respond to a race-based incident? They can’t!! Whether they agree with your position about racism at work or not isn’t the issue. They can empathize with you, but a White person can never cry your tears or feel your pain because of race-based trauma caused at work.

So, don’t enable a White person to potentially talk you out of pursuing a race-based issue at work. I don’t care how cool this White person seems to be, I don’t care if they date Blacks or other minorities, I don’t care if they have Black adopted siblings, if they seem to have your best interests at heart/seem sincere, etc. You shouldn’t be getting input on how you should feel about a race-based issue—one way or another—from someone White! But, if you do have that conversation, keep it in proper perspective.

Don’t let someone cover up possibly illegal behavior. If you want to ignore an incident or comment or personnel action, that’s up to you. Just don’t pretend it’s not what it is!

You’re an adult. You’ve been Black all your life. Your red flags will go up, when you’re dealing with suspected race-based issues. Don’t ignore the cues. Racists at work only continue with their behavior because so many Black workers will allow some White worker or manager to talk us out of our legitimate feelings, will tell us we’re overreacting, will tell us we are sensitive, will convince us to ignore warning signs or will tell us they’ll deal with an issue “behind the scenes” or will speak to the racist individual “privately.”

You know how you feel. But, you should also know the guidelines in the personnel manual for employee conduct and for preventing and correcting problem behavior—active racism being one of them. You should also stay informed about Federal laws regarding misconduct, discrimination, harassment, etc. Only by knowing your rights will you know whether your feelings are signs of a much bigger issue at work!

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14 Comments:

Blogger DivineLavender said...

It is so confirming that I am not "crazy", "overly sensitive", "over reacting", "taking it wrong", "engaging in a power struggle", "stirring the pot", etc, etc. My company didn't find discrimination but I know it. Thank you!

10:53 AM  
Blogger Angel H. said...

It pisses me off so much that I, as a Black person, have to prove that an action was racist. I've come to point where I've started telling people to prove to me that it wasn't racist.

2:24 PM  
Blogger S. Mary Wills said...

divinelavender...No, you're not crazy. But, I've been there too and have doubted my sanity. In my case, EVERYONE said this or that about me and EVERYONE thought this or that about me and it was all negative and all extremely sudden. You start to wonder if you're clueless, but that's the mindfu*k! Did you pursue and outside investigation of discrimination?

angel h. I like that question...why isn't it racist? Let's see the racist answer why his/her actions or words weren't just that! Everyone seems to think they know what's going in a Black worker's head. But, when we speak about others...oh, you couldn't possibly know that. You're misreading her. She's not like that. Do you think you're being sensitive? There's always an excuse. So, you're right. Let them take a crack at proving their innocence as opposed to us always having to prove guilt/motive. Like a racist made an announcement before screwing with us!

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

Many years ago, someone performing leadership training for my employer at the time and I didn't get along. Upper management kept telling me to ignore it because it wasn't personal. Even when he threw me out of a class, telling me I was causing trouble, they tried to tell me that. When he realized how much everyone else liked me (I made people look good), he tried to apologize, so I took the opportunity to tell him about himself. When I told him everyone else thought he was racist, because I was the only minority director, he was shocked; I mean, come on!

To his credit, he did apologize to every single class he held after that, including once while I was there, but I'm with you in wondering why these folks keep wanting to discount our thoughts and feelings, as if we don't know what's going on.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was called a "NIGGER" in a training class in February 2007. When I say that I was called "NIGGER" in a training class in February 2007, that is exactly what the hell I mean.

What did HR do? Stop me from additional testing and training and then let him pursue his testing and training.

My supervisor and senior also purposely gave me bad performance evaluations that I did not deserve; and lied about errors that I received which I did not make.

Those guys have been promoted!

I was a licensed INVESTMENT SPECIALIST SERIES 7 like on WALLSTREET...HELL YEAH...been there for about 9 months.

This kid had only been there for 2 months and had no licensing, not bringing assets to the firm.

I was a TOP PERFORMER, in fact.

Yes. I filed an EEOC complaint. Yes. I am calling local news stations from New York, Baltimore, Atlanta, L.A., Singapore, London, and ABC, NBC, aaaand CNN if I can't sue.

I can't wait to see that justice is done. It WILL BE DONE.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in the first and only managers meeting with the new GM of the hotel I worked for in July of 2007. He is white and so is his assistant. He asked her at the close of the meeting, "you sure we don't need to hire any more slaves?" Now, she is in charge of the housekeeping department who is mainly made up of blacks and hispanics (the majority blacks). I was shocked and my co-worker who is also black. We didn't say anything. Of course, when the meeting was over the assistant spoke to the GM about how much trouble he could be in. He then came to me to say he didn't mean it in a racial way. I spoke to his boss about it (who is white) I should have known that was a mistake. He defended him to the hill! I felt I needed to stay quiet so that I could keep my job. I want to know can I bring him and the company up on charges or is it too late?!

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found this article I almost literally started crying. I know my feelings of being racially discriminated against were right on but there's nothing like reading this and getting validation to your feelings of extreme anger and frustration.
I used to work in state government in Texas (yes racism is surely everywhere) and was a supervisor. I left this position for a lateral position there to continue college studies. Another reason is as a supervisor I received little to NO support from other supervisors in the organization in doing my job. You need this. Once some (white) employees saw this they felt they did not need to respect me as a supervisor of the organization. Racism was rampant within this organization. I had worked there just 2 years before becoming supervisor over a night shift group that I actually trained and worked with in the same work section. I knew there was some racism in this job before becoming a supervisor but little did I know even the supervisors who encouraged me in seeking the position clammed up and supported the racist supervisors once I got the position--like being two-faced. I was absolutely stunned by this! It was pure hell in getting work hours I wanted in my new area of in a different part of the same building after I left supervising. I saw other employees (white) getting whatever workshifts and hours they wanted--while I didn't. I was being made to do menial tasks that other (white) employees were not made to do. They even tried to get me to train new employees. (FOR WHAT? SO I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM TO RESPECT AS A SUPERVISOR BUT THEY WANTED ME TO TRAIN NEW EMPLOYEES??) I turned them down and did not do any training this time. I was upset about it all; it is hard to give all your effort on a job when you get nothing back. I even went through the state employees union but they would not help saying "it was my word against theirs." I didn't file against the organization and regret so to this day. I became very depressed during the last year I worked for them that it made me numb and unable to react the way I should have. I've never before been treated like that to such a magnitude as far as being discriminated against. Even employees I did not even know knew of the struggle I was having with management of the racist treatment. I feel like my very name was dragged through the dirt and all my business was all over the organization. I left this job and went into a new job and sought emotional help through their employee assistance program. The counselor even thought I should fight that previous employer. I contacted an attorney only to be told they could not help me because I had left the job before filing and that I basically did them a favor by leaving. Other attorneys would not take my case either. That's another thing: as black people, the system OFTEN fails us. I wish I had not become so numbed and depressed and had legally fought the race discrimination sooner. Since then, of course, NO ONE has ever again treated me like that on a job and gotten away with it.

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as blacks continue to view themselves as victims, that is exactly what they will be, victims. If more time and money were spent on education, and finanically and emotionally support their children they would not be in the position they are in. Quit blaming and accept some responsiblity.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you are just so ignorant. Many of the readers here are highly educated & hold professional jobs. Yet we are still discriminated against. This has nothing to do with “continue to view themselves as victims”. This is all about racism! Period! You don’t know what you are talking about & get off your high horse!

4:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was found when searching Race Discrimination and I was not pleased with what I have read as I use this company all the time....this is so shocking that they would treat there staff like this...I have cancelled my account with the people who use them, This person has been treated unfairly and this has to stop........I hope that this is looked at again and addressed with humanity


http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39283.html

September 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm
Clive Henry Vs UPS Ltd – Race Discrimination Case
I worked at UPS Ltd for 11 years, with 100% attendance for seven years. I had NEVER received any disciplinary action before.
In January 2008 I was asked by Manager A to supervise the merge of all the Lynx Courier accounts in our department.
In July 2008 Manager B who was a director at Lynx couriers became my manager.
In October 2008 I was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) which was never authorised by HR.
I hit the £3000 department monthly target. This was raised to £4000 the next month. I was shouted at and given a written warning on failing this target. I was also given a smudged warning letter. I was signed off with occupational stress because of these events.
The warning was revoked after my appeal but I was advised in writing that I would be placed back on the PIP.
I emailed HR to escalate to the corporate office. I was quickly contacted by HR to arrange an emergency meeting at this point. UPS HR and management were trying to cover this up.
In that meeting I was told to ignore being placed back on the Performance Improvement Plan. At this point I raised a grievance. I again asked for the corporate office details but was given a false HR contact.
The Race Discrimination Tribunal hearing was March 23, 2010. I represented myself as I thought it was an open and closed case. I resigned from UPS on March 11, 2010.
I was the only Black male and the ONLY person EVER to be placed on a PIP.
UPS are an official supporter for the 2012 Olympics and an equal opportunities employer.
I am fighting an appeal after the judge dismissed the case in a perverse way by removing vital information in his judgment reasons.
Please can you sign my petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39283.html
Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=153519774670654&ref=ts

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39283.html

September 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm
Clive Henry Vs UPS Ltd – Race Discrimination Case
I worked at UPS Ltd for 11 years, with 100% attendance for seven years. I had NEVER received any disciplinary action before.
In January 2008 I was asked by Manager A to supervise the merge of all the Lynx Courier accounts in our department.
In July 2008 Manager B who was a director at Lynx couriers became my manager.
In October 2008 I was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) which was never authorised by HR.
I hit the £3000 department monthly target. This was raised to £4000 the next month. I was shouted at and given a written warning on failing this target. I was also given a smudged warning letter. I was signed off with occupational stress because of these events.
The warning was revoked after my appeal but I was advised in writing that I would be placed back on the PIP.
I emailed HR to escalate to the corporate office. I was quickly contacted by HR to arrange an emergency meeting at this point. UPS HR and management were trying to cover this up.
In that meeting I was told to ignore being placed back on the Performance Improvement Plan. At this point I raised a grievance. I again asked for the corporate office details but was given a false HR contact.
The Race Discrimination Tribunal hearing was March 23, 2010. I represented myself as I thought it was an open and closed case. I resigned from UPS on March 11, 2010.
I was the only Black male and the ONLY person EVER to be placed on a PIP.
UPS are an official supporter for the 2012 Olympics and an equal opportunities employer.
I am fighting an appeal after the judge dismissed the case in a perverse way by removing vital information in his judgment reasons.
Please can you sign my petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39283.html
Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=153519774670654&ref=ts

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39283.html

September 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm
Clive Henry Vs UPS Ltd – Race Discrimination Case
I worked at UPS Ltd for 11 years, with 100% attendance for seven years. I had NEVER received any disciplinary action before.
In January 2008 I was asked by Manager A to supervise the merge of all the Lynx Courier accounts in our department.
In July 2008 Manager B who was a director at Lynx couriers became my manager.
In October 2008 I was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) which was never authorised by HR.
I hit the £3000 department monthly target. This was raised to £4000 the next month. I was shouted at and given a written warning on failing this target. I was also given a smudged warning letter. I was signed off with occupational stress because of these events.
The warning was revoked after my appeal but I was advised in writing that I would be placed back on the PIP.
I emailed HR to escalate to the corporate office. I was quickly contacted by HR to arrange an emergency meeting at this point. UPS HR and management were trying to cover this up.
In that meeting I was told to ignore being placed back on the Performance Improvement Plan. At this point I raised a grievance. I again asked for the corporate office details but was given a false HR contact.
The Race Discrimination Tribunal hearing was March 23, 2010. I represented myself as I thought it was an open and closed case. I resigned from UPS on March 11, 2010.
I was the only Black male and the ONLY person EVER to be placed on a PIP.
UPS are an official supporter for the 2012 Olympics and an equal opportunities employer.
I am fighting an appeal after the judge dismissed the case in a perverse way by removing vital information in his judgment reasons.
Please can you sign my petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39283.html
Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=153519774670654&ref=ts

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Stacey W. said...

I work for a home improvement store in south Florida. I have experienced almost every form of racism except them saying the "N" word. This article felt like a biography of my work life.

I am always rated as exceeding expectations but it pisses them off that I am intelligent and Black. I have had my boss throw away my personal effects from my desk drawer, allow my Hispanic co-worker to scream, rant and demean me and my Black co-worker.

When I compain, he tells the Hispanic gentleman, "F@@@ them if they can't take a joke".

Meanwhile, there are people of his own ethnicity that have committed Class A violoations that are immediately terminable offenses and tell Black co-workers, "All you Black people are f@@cking ignorant" and nothing is done.

My belief about Policy & Procedure serves two purposes... To keep us Negroes in line and to protect our White and Hispanic counterparts. Open door policy is for White employees. If you're Black well your employment won't last long.

They spread poison about the Black employees in my building and then pass on the legacy of hatred from manager to manager. So when new management come, they always say, "Oh, I was already told about you or this person or that."

I'm exhausted and fed up.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's alarming to me that when we go head to head with racist behaviors in the workplace and it is determined that our experiences are validated. The white racist is guilty but leaves the organization with thousands of dollars or in some cases millions (Bill O'Rieley). I have seen the racist walk away with a boat load of cash while the black person continue to work in now what is a awful environment to continue ones employment. I see know changes just different white racist faces.

3:13 PM  

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