Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rock Bottom!

Americans have been programmed and conditioned to tolerate some of the most unbearable and unacceptable workplace conditions--from little to no health benefits, to substandard working conditions, and the acceptance of bullying, harassment, racism and discrimination as common practice.

Black workers, in particular, seem to have lost the desire, willpower, and courage to fight the systematic injustices and inequity that still plague our society. We are often slow to demand a reasonable amount of respect, instead preferring to rationalize the unacceptable behavior of others and the abuse of our rights. We are so happy that we weren’t called a “ni**er” that we will extend an olive branch for almost every other blatant disrespect and infraction of our basic human and employee rights. So, instead of continuing the struggles of the Civil Rights Era, we choose to quietly remain in jobs that:

• negatively affect our health;
• are dead-end positions with little or no opportunities to advance;
• provide lower and inequitable financial pay/reward--as compared to White counterparts; and are
• unbearable in regard to the work environment, policies, and practices.

We deal with workplace situations that are toxic and demoralizing and we sometimes withstand attacks that come from all over a company. The problem may start with one racist supervisor, but can have a Black employee up against that supervisor, HR, a director of their department, a vice president of a company, a site director, and/or a president/CEO of an organization.

It is often an emotionally overwhelming experience. However, many Black workers will keep holding on to that job with all our might. Sometimes we don't want "them" to think they've won. Sometimes we refuse to leave because we haven't done anything wrong and shouldn't have to. Sometimes we have to prove our bravery and represent our ancestors, who struggled through harder ordeals. Sometimes we're simply afraid to leave a bad job. Sometimes the economy is bad and it's not a good environment to find other work. Sometimes we simply don't want to interview again. There are many reasons people choose to stay at a job. So, we stay and take heaps of abuse and our blood pressure rises, and our attitude sours, and we're sick all the time, etc.

The reality is that sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they decide to leave a poisonous workplace!

Let me be blunt. Just as a substance abuser or alcoholic has to hit rock bottom in order to truly seek help for their problem, we as African Americans often must hit rock bottom before we will seriously consider leaving our employment at a company where racism is allowed to thrive and where active racism is harming our career and our health.

Women in bad relationships often have to hit rock bottom before they will get out. Many of us have had female friends, who complain to everyone around them about a boyfriend that’s cheating on them, beating on them, etc. These complaining women will go on and on about all of the terrible things happening to them and they’ll ask their friends what they should do. More often than not, the friends will say, “Leave the bastard!”

And, what does the woman who asked for advice normally do?”

She stays with him because she too hasn’t hit rock bottom and she thinks the relationship can be saved.

The reality is, when a woman has had enough mistreatment, she'll leave. And, that's all that can make her leave. Mom begging her to leave won't do it, sisters and brothers saying get out of the relationship won't do it, etc.

So, if you're working in a hostile and offensive environment and you're not sure whether it's time to leave or if you should stay...


Leave when you're ready to go.

Leave when you've had enough.

Leave when you've hit rock bottom.

Remember...resigning your position doesn't prevent you from vindicating your employment rights through an outside investigation or through a lawyer. However, only you can decide when it's time to go.

Just don't let that job kill you, while you're making up your mind!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm having so many issues here it's ridiculous, and they've been going on for a while.
I tried to get with the EEOC, and they basically told me I didn't have a toenail to stand on, so I don't know who to turn to next.
You know the worst part of my story? The person responsible for most of my grief is a woman from Africa! You'd think she'd try to help, offer advice, be a mentor, etc. , but no...she tries to have as few black folks around her as possible.
I'm looking for another job...too bad, because this one seemed so right.

10:33 AM  

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