Same Race Discrimination
One of these men was the Director of a department and the other individual was a senior-level manager. Based on their words, is it possible that these men would discriminate against members of their own race? Yes! They seemed to have a palpable bias against their own race. The comments were extremely offensive and, of course, contributed to an offensive environment at work—the same as if a White person had been making the remarks.
But, what’s interesting is that one of these men behaved in a discriminatory manner and one did not—although they both made comments that might make any reasonable person believe that they both were unable to be fair and might act out in a discriminatory manner. Despite the anticipation that both of these individuals might stick it to me and other Black staff, the senior manager always went to bat for me and was very supportive of me as far as helping me gain new skills and opportunities, as well as in getting me substantial salary increases.
However, the Director created a more hostile work environment for Black staff, especially the younger Black employees. He would call young staff into one-on-one meetings to be chastised and reprimanded over the most minor issues. These lectures and tantrums would last 30 minutes to an hour—per session. He tried to control what Blacks did on their breaks…their free time. He would give Blacks assignments and then disturb our work effort by calling us constantly or hovering over our shoulders to see how the work was going.
He would use humiliation as a tactic by openly questioning our intelligence, whether a person was a college graduate or was in college. He said he did this because we always looked confused. I guess he assumed we were confused because he loved to throw around so-called “big” words. If he was as smart as he thought he was, he would have realized that we were looking at him like he was an a**hole—not as though we were confused. The way he treated Black staff was entirely different from the way he treated White staff. He left them alone to do their jobs, gave them instructions and left them to do their work, etc. He reserved his highest compliments for White employees. He was always pushing White staff into highly visible roles that would show them off around the company. He pushed them for promotions. In my opinion, he definitely engaged in disparate treatment of staff.
I’ve already had a couple of posts on this site that confirm that same race discrimination does exist and is just as illegal as discrimination involving people of different races. Comments made by the Supreme Court have shown the position that the race of decision-makers in the workplace may be relevant, but is not controlling. In other words, the Supreme Court has shown an understanding that no one can presume that a person would not discriminate against members of his own race.
The Supreme Court has noted, “[b]ecause of the many facets of human motivation, it would be unwise to presume as a matter of law that human beings of one definable group will not discriminate against other members of their group.”
I know many of us think we have to tolerate what seems to be race-based abuse from Black supervisors, managers, etc. Who’s going to believe the person is motivated by race, right? But, based on the comments by the Supreme Court and based on Federal statutes, you can make a complaint that a Black person is guilty of workplace discrimination. And, then it's up to you to prove your case. Just like any other discrimination claim you want to focus on documentating the facts/collecting evidence, keeping a list of witnesses, who can corroborte events at work, and you should report any issues to HR or someone in authority at the company.
If you suspect that a Black manager, supervisor or other member of authority is discriminating against you, you should pursue the issue in the same way you would if the person were White, Hispanic, etc. You don't have to tolerate discrimination because the perpetrator looks like you!