Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blacks and Workplace Racism

I’ve had many conversations with friends about workplace racism. While we talk about all of the crap that Whites in the workplace put us through, we also have many conversations about how Black workers often, knowingly and unknowingly, assist the White establishment in executing actions against a targeted Black employee.

I can remember the first time I saw a major race-related issue break out at work. I’m not talking about a minor skirmish or a brief back and forth between a worker and one manager. By break out, I mean that this was the first time I really saw a major fight brewing between a Black worker and the entire power structure at the company. And, it was the first time I saw a significant number of Black workers, who were intimately involved in what was happening and who had something at stake in the events, react to what was going on.

To put it mildly, I was completely overwhelmed with both disappointment and disgust at the Black workers involved in the situation at work. Yes, I can understand the natural fear that any worker would have, as far as sticking your neck on the line for another employee. But, in this case, these workers had actually encouraged a Black supervisor to stand up and speak for them because they were too afraid to complain about offensive comments made by a White manager at a staff meeting. I remember all of these Black workers talking a good game and saying they’d had enough and this time things were gonna change. So, they pushed to have this White manager confronted.

When it was all said and done and the Black manager was falsely accused of calling this White manager a “racist,” not a single one of these Black employees could remember any offensive remarks being made or of asking the Black manager to speak to the White manager about causing offense. “It didn’t bother me” and “I didn’t say I had a problem with it” were NOW the types of comments that were being made once the proverbial s%it hit the fan!

It was sickening. But, as the situation escalated for the Black manager, the behavior of the Black staff got even worse. Her Black subordinates and coworkers within her department turned on her in ways that you would not imagine.

Here’s some of what the Black workers said about the Black manager and did to her, which assisted the company in stripping the Black manager of her staff, assigning her menial work, and making false accusations against her:

• They said they didn’t hear any offensive remarks or didn’t take them to be offensive;

• They denied asking the Black manager to complain to the White manager about her offensive comments;

• They told the Black manager to apologize—even though she didn’t do anything wrong and was being responsive to the requests of her subordinates to address offensive behavior;

• They said the Black manager should “just let them [Whites] win” and should stop complaining and fighting back against harassment, retaliation, and a hostile work environment;

• They signed false statements against the Black manager that were written by White management;

• They suddenly and falsely accused the Black manager of being a bad manager, of being rude, of physically attacking them and fighting them at work, of turning them into “running dogs,” etc;

• They laughed at her behind her back and snickered in her face because her work was taken from her and divided among her subordinates—resulting in the subordinates feeling they had more power and respect in the department;

• They isolated the Black manager by not speaking to her, and/or being disrespectful or dismissive, when they did talk to her;

• They expressed pride in getting the new White managers they were assigned or felt they would benefit more from having a White manager;

• They took unspoken bribes to take the company’s side of the complaint or to remain silent about what they knew—in the form of unprecedented salary increases, bonuses, never before conducted market increases (solely for their department), tickets to sporting events, etc.

These Black workers made out like bandits on the back of another Black employee. They had no shame in what they’d done. This is despite the fact that this manager had put her neck on the line to fight for decent pay increases for many of these workers and had suggested promotions for others. This was her reward. When Whites put a target on her back, they helped cock the gun and pull the trigger.

Crabs in a barrel!

We play right into the hands of racists way too often.

Sometimes, I wonder if we haven’t conditioned ourselves, as a people, to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. When we see a Black person down, we immediately think that it’s their problem and has nothing to do with us.

“I don’t want to get involved.”

But, then I realize that not everyone is going to be part of the struggles that will benefit us all. Some people prefer to ride other people’s coattails. That’s how it’s been and that’s how it always will be. But, that doesn’t mean the struggle is any less important and that those of us, who are willing to fight, shouldn’t put our blood, sweat, and tears into doing whatever we can to change things for the better.

Keep your heads up and think about being part of the solution! That’s the thought for today!!

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work a job where I am the minority, meaning I am the only white person on the job. I constantly hear comments relating to my heritage, I am dark(called tan) complected and clearly not African American in any way shape or form. I have been told that I/my family have African American in my blood somewhere because I am tan. What?? Is this legal? It is very disruptive. I also hear the "N" word all day long, the wetback, Mexican, the honky. Please tell me what I can do. Thanks

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a painfully true story that I see snippets of in my job daily. Not quite as intense, but still a racist and "crabs-in-a-barrel" mentality nonetheless. Refreshing, but disturbing to know that others suffer similiar plights.

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also a minortiy where I work- and I am white. I contstantly hear racist comments about whites... the best one is that our hair smells like "wet dog" when it rains. The few white workers are forced to work longer hours while the black workers take 3-4 hour BREAKS. I constantly hear about the "black struggle", see "black" themed t-shirts, and all of our work parties (which I don't attend) includes "soul" food.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate it when White people feel they have the right to complain about the behaviors of minority members. You love it when minority members act "ghetto" because it makes you feel like you're "better" than us. My manager is White and she always tries to act like she's not racist in the face of Black people, but in private conversations she constantly uses the "N" word. To all the White people out there: YOU SUCK!

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is 3 years late, but the topic is all too relevent now. I have worked at different workplaces and there IS a pattern of racism to them. And no, people don't look for this, racism finds them. I am an honours student, and have many accolades under my belt. I have noticed that if a black woman (and I say this, because black men may catch hell, but we catch it worse)is intelligent, hard working, professional, and over achieving -whites and others have it out for them. I have seen and experienced this time and again. I go to a job, they want to get to KNOW you. I say very little, but listen plenty. Then I exceed target results. All of a sudden, I am not part of the team. I am asked to tell them my SECRET. I say, read the following books, that's what helped me. They don't want to do it and accuse me of not SHARING. Forget the fact, that they never shared with me to get these results. Then they look for performance errors, can't find any. Then they move to soft skills, but I would have made positive contacts with other departments - so it doesn't get far. Then it is outright personal attacks. I have witnessed time again lazy people (majority whites)get promoted, not on merit - but on "likability". If I was white, with the skills I have I would be CEO by now. Instead, you have a white male receptionist who is now a director making $65K based on "likability". I brought in close to $1 million in sales in a week, not even a nod of thanks. A white female got 4 appointments and receives a gift certificate of $50.00. Then you have Some of the black ones that hate to see anyone move past them, they cater to the racism and add more fuel to the fire. They too don't have to work as hard, because they spread gossip to management (mostly white). I resigned and am looking for work. I am so angry! I see it everyday, whites and non-blacks (and some blacks) get the higher pay and does little for the company. I am dedicated, results oriented, do not engage in gossip, don't tear down others, and I am the one that gets pushed out, trampled on, stressed out. You try to make a better life, and someone else who can't do the same deliberately find ways to screw it up.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also 3-years later and know exactly what you are talking about. I'm a broadcast professional who was hired in a mid-level position at a well known TV workplace. From the very beginning I decided I would stay to myself engage in discussion from time to time but stay away from rift raft. Dressed professionally and carried myself with the upmost respect. Within the last three years of my employment I was put through hell by my supervisor who had some serious issues with me being looked at for upper management. He decided to make my life miserable by given me assignments that he did not expect me to finish or succeed.
However I wold finish and succeed in everything that was given. One of the black females that worked their had some very bad insecurities and decided to work on getting the rest of my coworkers to go against me. Turning a so-called dignified DC Network into a High School playground. After being bullied by coworkers and boss I decided to resign. Although I left in good standing I would never go back there. At the time I was hired I was the only black producer. The one black associate producer who had some insecurity issues eventually became a Producer but I have no respect for her or any other black person who engages in bringing down anyone black or white for no reason.
Self hate and racism is still very prevalent in the workplace

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at a company that practices racism they pick and single out blacks on work performance and times they do not bother the whites or other races they always write up blacks and pull them in the office in this place whites are superior and blacks inferior and now they are firing more blacks and hiring more whites

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

blacks need to be exposed for the truth we are not doing what you are saying YOU ARE. YOU ARE PREJUDICE AND GETTING AWAY WITH AND LAUGHING ABOUT IT sick of you. you become bosses have your token whites to say I am not prejudice BUT YOU ARE. When you become bosses you have other BLACK employees harass you I no I been through it you make white look like there doing it but you are doing most of it and the higher ups are afraid to do anything and where i live whites are the minority in the work place you make us do your job then turn around and say we are not doing are job done that many times whites wake up stop feeling sorry and march on Washington like they do because they are getting you back for slavery and you had nothing to do with it and they were never slaves WAKE UP

9:04 AM  

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