Monday, November 17, 2008

Not Who I Used To Be

I was speaking to a coworker about racism in the workplace. One of the things I said to her was that after going through years of dealing with an employer that was determined to beat the allegations that they retaliated against Black employees, I'm just not the person I used to be anymore.

It's been 4 years since I left that employer and I still have yet to go back to working in an office environment. I simply have no stomach for it at this point. So, I've done retail work, etc. simply to stay out of the realm of cubicles and arguments over who has how many windows in their offices.

One of my biggest fears is flipping out on a White person in an office environment. When you work in an office, you see the same people every day. Sometimes you see them and HAVE TO deal with them more than you see very close friends and family members. I mean think about it, there are relatives and friends that we'd love to visit with or hang out with for 8 hours a day. Yet, we have to earn a livelihood and work with some of the biggest as*holes and racists on the planet. And, we also have to deal with closet racists, homophobes, sexists, etc.

I just don't feel comfortable going back to that "reality" even 4 years later. In retail, for instance, I don't see the same people every day because everyone is on shifts. So, the people I dislike, I'm not subjected to on a daily basis.

It's sad, but true. This is what my work life has come to--finding employment based on not working with a regular group of people on a daily basis. Battling racism at work changes each of us in different ways.

I'll be the first to admit....

I'm not who I used to be.

Gone are the days of being excited about meeting and working with new people.

Gone are the days of high-levels of patience with stupidity and stupid people at work.

Gone are the days of hanging out with lunch buddies and going out to dinner with coworkers.

I stick to myself much more now.

Like I said...

I'm just not who I used to be.

But, I guess that's normal based on what I've been through.

Next up for me, is getting my book about workplace racism published and pursuing my writing career. That's my version of entrepreneurship. I want to work primarily by myself. Just me an a computer until I have to take calls, meetings, go to events, etc. I want to be left alone as much as possible.

Does or has anyone else felt this way after going through race-based battles at work? If so, post a comment. We'd love to hear from you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the best blog I have ever read. I live in the uk and get indirect racism. for example, today a person sitting next to me who I had just met would talk to me with politeness but would talk more with a fellow white person and leave me out of the converstation altogether. some would say I'm just paranoid but there was certainly a look of uncomfort when the white person was talking to me.... even though I'm a senior person within the company. what do u think we can do about indirect racism like this? Please tell...

1:04 PM  
Blogger Karsh said...

I know exactly how you feel. I'm so sick of the corporate mess -- particularly how it's affected my relationships, friendships, and health -- that I'm striking out on my own and starting my own web design business. More than racism, in some cases I'm dealing with homophobia, ageism, etc.

How's the saying go..."I can do bad by myself"? I think I'll give that a try for a while.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your blog religiously. It speaks to so many experiences I've had since the day I started working, at 17, in a corporate environment. As an intern, I was headed by the grace of G-d to an Ivy League institution. The person I worked with at the time, a white woman, made it a point to find out what my intended major was. Being naive about this "frenemy," I told her it was economics.

From that point, this grown woman made it her life's work to harass a barely out of her parents' house teenager. Her daily put downs and busybody behavior were the stuff of legend. I still excelled over my two-year internship period, but it let me know right then what corporate life would be like.

Later, during my first job out of college, the white female executive director I worked for told me she "owned" me, one of many lawsuit-provoking statements. I left that nightmare after eight months. Now in my 30s, I work in a big media environment that has stripped me bare emotionally. I found out only recently that this place has a history running out black women (I am now the only professional of my class in my office; others are support staff) and routinely harrassing older women, especially if they're unattractive.

Frankly, I am tired, tired I say, of other people's drama and want to work alone as well. I want to freelance. Please do a post on helping your fellow Harriet Tubmans get health insurance as we walk the righteous path.

Thanks for your wisdom. Shalom, Sister.

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to this article. I've been in corporate america for 26 years and is totally fed up. I'm currently pursuing a discrimination suit against my previous employer based on race, age and sex. I went thru an entire year of hell to say the least. I'm not employed with an African American church and love the change.

The effect from my years of racism has really changed me. I truy do not wish to build relationships at work because of years of abuse. Yes, I feel like I'm a victim of abuse. Years of fighting racism has done me in. I no longer have the slightest desire to climb the corporate ladder nor shatter any glass ceilings. My desire is to basically work alone. Just me and my computer with very little contact from others. Racism has left many scars which I do not plan on opening.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate to being discriminated against as well. I just won a huge lawsuit against a very large corporation for racial discrimination and retaliation. Has going through this changed me? Yes, it has tremendously, but I am now the opposite. Before the lawsuit, I was more quiet and kept to myself and out of others' business in the office. Unfortunately, that did not keep me from being attacked, humiliated, mocked and so much more... a victim of racial discrimination. I believe now (more than ever) to fight back and stand up for my rights. It's sad, that even in this day, this type behavior still exists (I'm in Florida... it's horrible and very open). I want to live my life the way I want... work where I please, live where I please and I will not allow people of that kind of ignorance to send me into a shell. I WILL FIGHT BACK. And if you think cannot win... think again. What they thought was impossible to win, became victory for me by my faith and belief that God is bigger, stronger, and will give you victory. After all, the opportunity for people of color to work in a diverse and acceptable society has a long history of people who have lost their lives fighting for that right. Do not allow people to keep you from your dreams because of their ignorance. We would be doing exactly what they want... "make them go away... run them out of the company". Corporate America is the worst. I know you get tired of it, but you cannot give up the fight. The United States made history on November 4, 2008 and elected the first African-American President... there will be a black family residing in the White House! In order to bring change on in America, we must continue to stand up for our rights and fight back. That's the key to winning. Put on the attitude "I'm tired of it and I won't take it anymore!" We need people like the creator of this blog who worked in Human Resources to be there to help push and bring on change. Of course it won't be easy... it's an ongoing battle, but it will make a difference. Does anyone else feel this way?

4:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe I was lucky enough to find your blog. My family is well aware that I have a great deal of respect for you and what you are doing. I feel like everytime I read your blog it touches on exactly what I was going through at work. It's amazing! I don't know how you do it, but not long ago I was talking with family on how this terrible experience has changed me and after reading this post, I see I'm not alone. It's exactly how I feel. I've been reading your blog for a year and I want to thank you; it has given me very helpful information when I decided to file with the appropriate state and federal agencies. My case is currently pending, but I don't regret following through with this (eventhough it was a fellow black employee that went against me and helped my employer after I filed a charge of discrimination). I had to write you and let you know the hope and inspiration you give each week to people. I also hope you come out with a book because I will definitely purchase it.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tears filled my eyes after reading this because I was recently fired about 2 weeks ago for speaking up. I am gathering info now and have another coworker who is willing to speak up. I feel the same way. I don't want to leave my home, I have a fear of going back to an office where this can happen again, I don't want to deal with people anymore. I think I am experiencing depression because I was so active and outgoing before I started this job. I did yoga, took business courses, hung out with friends, etc. I just don't know what to do. Actually I think I may see a doctor soon to address this because I can't sleep at night.

2:00 PM  

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