Friday, January 25, 2008

No Blogging on Jan. 28th and 29th!

My sister is having surgery on Monday and I will be at the hospital on those dates. I hope to be back with a new post next Wednesday, January 30th!

As always, check the archive and see the links for more helpful information and resources.


Request a Meeting...Before Someone Else Does!

If you’ve been having a problem dealing with a coworker and you are always going through some type of drama with this individual, you should speak to this person about the problem. Don’t just expect the problem to go away. Think about it…if left unchecked, why would the problem simply disappear?

Speak directly to the person about the issue. When speaking to the person, try to use language that won’t escalate the situation (e.g., I think you’re a racist), try not to come across as too finger-pointing by giving the person a little “face”/saving them some embarrassment at being called out (e.g., you probably don’t realize you do this, but when you are stressed out, you sometimes become very abrupt in your speech), don’t make threats (at least initially), and focus on a solution (e.g., I think we can really make this project a success, if we work on having better communication and being open to feedback.) Always try to communicate with the person and to come up with a solution on your own.

But, let me remind you of this…

As soon as you realize you are dealing with a problem employee of any kind (racist, elitist, sexist, won’t take responsibility for mistakes, etc.), you MUST begin documenting everything! You need to keep any emails, memos, copies of procedures and instructions, nasty or offensive or revealing voice mail messages, copies of timesheets, etc. which will support your perception that this individual is the person behaving unprofessionally, unethically, and, possibly, illegally. Don’t wait until the person has gone to a manager or HR to say that you are a problem, before you go back into your records looking for the proof you should have been collecting the entire time you were dealing with them.

I had a White coworker, who literally acted like she owned me. Yes, she seemed to think I was her very own slave. I was assigned to work with her NO MORE THAN 8 hours per week. She began emailing several times a day to ask what I was working on. This is despite the fact that she knew what I was working on because we’d discussed it at our regular Monday meeting (assignments for the week). Now, think about it…8 hours a week doesn’t even amount to 2 hours per day. Why was she harassing me about what I was working on, when I was barely allocated any hours for her project and had a miniscule role?

Anyway, I would not tell her what I was working on because she was not my supervisor. Therefore, my workday was none of her business. Instead, I would remind her of what pieces of HER PROJECT I would be tackling that day and for how long. I always let her know that once 8 hours were reached, I was unavailable to perform anymore work for her: (1) due to priority assignments on high-value projects, which she was aware of (including that I was required to be out of the office on a regular basis); (2) I was not authorized to continue working on her task beyond those 8 hours per week; and (3) It did not make sense for me to eat up my hours early in the project, when I was going to be needed for several months. The client had already made it clear that we might get a no-cost extension on completing the project, but ABSOLUTELY NO ADDITIONAL MONEY would be approved.

Despite this, I continued to be asked what I was doing (all of my project work), I was followed to copiers so this woman could look at what I was printing (in order to see what I was working on), she would walk back and forth past my office door and stare at me and my desk (trying to see what I was doing), and this woman kept going to my supervisor to say that I wasn’t working on her project—when I was—and that she never knew how to find me! Again, I kept reminding her of the support that I was authorized to provide her and I reminded her that she agreed she wouldn’t need me for more than 8 hours per week. I also reminded her that she was aware that I was working on 2 projects, which required me to be out of the office on a regular basis for face-to-face client meetings, attending research groups, traveling, etc.

Once I saw, early on, that I was being harassed about my time on her project, I began keeping a file containing hard copies of my electronic timesheets, which would show my daily hours worked in support of her task, I saved all of her harassing emails asking about my overall workload, I saved copies of every email containing updates that I would send to her, I saved every email informing her (in advance) of when I was working out of the office and attending client meetings, traveling for other projects, etc.

Still, we kept talking past each other. I was so busy that I just kept maintaining my documentation and doing my work. But, lo and behold, the witch had my supervisor call me into a meeting and I had to go to the videotape...I mean, to my documentation! I should have beaten her to the punch and requested a meeting myself to discuss the issues, the heightened scrutiny and observation I was being subjected to, and the negative environment she was creating on the project.

My suggestion is to request a meeting regarding a problem employee before someone else does! Here are my tips and thoughts on requesting a meeting:

(1) If someone is acting a fool and won’t stop, request a meeting and invite both of your supervisors to attend. Although you don’t want to give the impression that you can’t resolve your problems, you don’t want to work somewhere that gives you tension headaches on the way in to work and you don’t want to work with someone who causes you to walk half-way around the earth to avoid passing their desk. There comes a time when you may need someone to mediate. So, invite your supervisors to help work out the problem.

(2) If the problem continues and your supervisor is providing no help in neutralizing the situation or preventing it from escalating, contact Human Resources.

(3) REMEMBER: Before you take the step of contacting supervisors or Human Resources, you must demonstrate that you have tried to come up with solutions on your own. This is where copies of offensive or nasty email and voicemail messages, hard copy documentation, recordings, and a log of incidents can come in handy to support your position.

(4) If you are dealing with more than a personality conflict and you think there is racial discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation, remember that your employer may decide to take a position in support of the offending person and against you. As you work to resolve your issues at work, keep in mind that your supervisor/manager, director, and/or HR staff may want to position themselves as having a united front. This means ganging up on you. You should work at every opportunity to prevent this. One suggestion is to always meet with company staff separately, as much as possible. This includes:

· Human Resources staff
· Your supervisor/manager
· The department head/Vice President level
· Corporate executives
· The perpetrator (at least in the early stages of your problems at work, when you may want to resolve the issue(s) between the two of you--without Human Resources or other mediation)

You want to meet with these people separately to inhibit opportunities for them to coordinate lies against you while gathered together in a meeting, where one person can tell a lie about you and others can nod their heads in agreement. Divide and conquer. Meet with them separately--if you can--then compare the notes from the separate meetings to uncover lies, misrepresentations, and disingenuous reasons that are being used to justify what has been happening to you.

I was in a meeting attended by my former supervisor, new supervisor, and a Human Resources representative. They spent the entire meeting glancing at each other for approval, piggy-backing off of each other’s comments, embellishing each other’s spontaneous lies, and coordinating their continually varying reasons for how things were handled by the company and how things would work going forward.

That was a meeting that I could not avoid taking in a group setting because it was performance review related and the company was trying to cover its ass on previous attacks they had recently made against me. But, on the positive side, I was able to leave that meeting and compare what they said as a group to what they said prior to that. In many cases, things did not add up. I’m not talking about subtle changes in what was being said. There were entirely new rationales for the content of my review, new generalizations (made without providing any examples) about my so-called negative workplace personality and conduct, and surprise additional commentary that had never been shared with me during the review period, which violates their own policies and practices.

(5) REMEMBER: By requesting a meeting to clarify issues, you get all key players involved in your grievance on record with their position regarding the incident. There can’t be any claims of confusion on your part regarding verbal warnings, employment actions, etc.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

LEGAL BRIEFS: Judge Grants Final Approval for $6.2 Million Partial Settlement of Historic Union Discrimination Case

Jan. 15, 2008 – NEW YORK – A federal court granted final approval for a $6.2 million partial settlement for black and Hispanic sheet metal workers who suffered discrimination by their union, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.

The EEOC and the State and City of New York, along with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, DC and the New York law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP representing the minority members, had sued Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association in New York City (Local 28) for providing fewer job opportunities to the workers because of their race or national origin for many years. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race and national origin discrimination by labor organizations. The partial settlement was reached through intense negotiations between the plaintiffs and Local 28.

Judge Robert L. Carter of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted final approval of the settlement, which would compensate minority members of Local 28 for lost wages for the years 1984 to 1991. The parties have also agreed to significant changes in the union’s job referral system as well as monitoring systems aimed at equalizing members’ access to job opportunities. Litigation of the remaining claims of union members who suffered discrimination after 1991 continues, as do settlement negotiations, in an effort to obtain a prompt and fair resolution of those remaining claims.

“We hope that these developments are an indication that, with the recent change in leadership, the union has decided, after many years of costly litigation, to work with the court and the plaintiffs in obeying the court orders and to begin to resolve the outstanding claims against it,” said Spencer Lewis, the District Director of the EEOC’s New York office.

“We are thrilled that our clients are finally on the path to receive compensation for some of the discrimination they suffered,” said Michael L. Foreman, Director of the Employment Discrimination Project of the Lawyers’ Committee. “Without the tireless commitment of our co-counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton, who have devoted significant time and resources to this pro bono case, this outcome would not have been possible.”

“We are extremely pleased that such a substantial settlement has been preliminarily approved for this set of claims, and we are eager to continue working toward resolution of remaining claims and issues,” said Jyotin Hamid, a partner with Debevoise & Plimpton.

“This is a significant step forward in what has been a decades-long process to end discrimination against black and Hispanic members of Local 28 and restore their lost wages,” said Joshua Rubin, Senior Counsel at the New York City Law Department. “We will continue working to ensure good practices at the union going forward and to help others reclaim their compensation.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, gender (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), religion, national origin, age, disability and retaliation. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

On Feb. 28, 2007, EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp launched the E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at

The Lawyers' Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights legal organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar and the pro bono services of law firms, such as Debevoise & Plimpton, in the enforcement of civil rights. Since its inception, the Lawyers’ Committee has worked as a “private attorney general” by vigorously enforcing civil rights laws in the areas of employment, housing, education, voting rights, environmental justice, and community development. The Lawyers’ Committee represents private parties in federal and state courts throughout the United States in lawsuits against private and governmental entities on behalf of those seeking redress for racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination. More information is available at


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Never Disclose to Coworkers or Management That You Are Filing an External Complaint

I think the biggest piece of advice I can pass along to anyone, who is considering filing an external complaint alleging race-based discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation, is that you not tell anyone about your intentions.



In previous posts, I’ve written that an investigator for the Office of Human Rights (OHR) informed me that I should file a complaint AFTER I left employment. She said that many employers often ESCALATED attacks against complaining employees, even though you would expect them to back off.

This is why you should never go around broadcasting that you are planning to vindicate your rights with the assistance of an outside investigatory agency or through the legal process. You will put an even larger bulls-eye on your back—or right in the middle of your forehead.

Once an employer feels they are in real legal jeopardy, they will often scramble to prove that they didn’t do anything wrong. They will attempt to create documentation that will support any negative employment actions, any heightened scrutiny and observation of the complaining employee, and any threats made to a complaining employee’s job security.

An employer will often decide that they must focus on getting retroactive documentation of a complaining employee. This means that, if an employer is lying about a complaining employee having a history of issues at work, they must go back and cover their butts by creating a written record of performance or personality problems that have never been documented. They were not documented because they did not happen.

So, new documentation will be created that uses some of the red flags words that were discussed in yesterday’s post. For instance, new documentation will make false accusations about a “consistent” problem or might say that a manager has “repeatedly” discussed an issue with a complaining employee or it might express “concern” about an issue raised about a complaining employee by “a number of staff.”

This type of documentation is then used by an employer to suggest that an employee wasn’t targeted for race, but was targeted for legitimate performance or personality issues. This defense is a pretext, discussed in many posts, that is used to hide a racially-motivated reason for targeting an employee. Your employer will never admit to this, so they must come up with real personnel actions that appear to be rooted in sound reasoning and that appear to adhere to corporate policies and procedures.

My employer made false accusations against me, WITHOUT knowing I was filing a complaint. They used red flag words in new documentation that contradicted my recent performance evaluation and contradicted compliments I’d been receiving from project managers and task leaders I’d been working with. They did this to retaliate against me for speaking truthfully about retaliation that a Black manager was subjected to. Now, imagine how much worse it would have been for me, had they known that I too was about to file a complaint!

I know it’s sometimes tempting to blurt out, “I’ll see you in court!” or “I’m contacting EEOC!” But, don’t do it. Not even out of respect or out of a sense that you have a duty to notify your employer. You don’t have a duty to do anything of the sort. EEOC or whatever agency or lawyer you’ve contacted will initiate the discussion. That’s all the advance notice your employer needs.

That way, once they’ve been informed there’s an investigation or legal action pending, anything they do to you will be under even more scrutiny than before you complained. Anything that happens to you will look even more like retaliation.

This doesn’t mean that your employer still won’t make attacks against you. It simply means that the context for their actions changes dramatically, no matter how they choose to defend themselves against accusations of wrongdoing. If an employee has filed a complaint and is suddenly suspended after the employer is notified they’ve filed a complaint that looks really suspicious no matter what the employer says to justify that employment action.

Do not notify your supervisor/manager, director, HR, an executive or anyone on staff. I don’t care how cool you are with the person or how much you trust them. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. The fact that someone is looking for a lawyer or contacting a government agency is very salacious and is often too juicy a nugget of gossip to keep quiet. A person may tell someone else that they feel will keep the secret and so on and so on and before you know it, a number of people, who didn’t intend for a manager or HR or an executive to find out, have allowed your business to permeate the workplace. You will be the topic of discussion at the water cooler!

Don’t trust anyone to keep your secret because you could be in for a world of pain much sooner than you anticipated. The next thing you know, you’re called into a meeting by someone in HR who’s telling you, “I hear you have a lawyer.” You don’t want to put yourself in that position and you shouldn’t tip your hand by allowing your employer to regroup and retarget you with a renewed sense of vigor.

If you want to get things off your chest, discuss an external investigation with family and friends, WHO DON’T WORK WITH YOU AND WHO DON’T KNOW ANY OF YOUR COWORKERS!

Don’t share these details with anyone at work and don’t keep any documentation of letters to lawyers, etc. in the office.

As I always suggest, continue to document everything at work, send important email to your personal email accounts (and keep hard copies at home), maintain a copy of organization charts, instructions/procedures, and always keep a current copy of the personnel manual, in case your employer decides to make retroactive changes to it—as was done to me.

If you make copies of important documents at work, be very discreet and don’t tell anyone what you are doing. This is especially true for corporate or government whistleblowers. Make a copy of an important document by putting the document you really want in the middle of some other file. Copy the whole thing and pull out the important piece later. If you do it this way and someone walks up to the copier, all they see is a regular document coming out and not necessarily the important paper or pages tucked in the middle. When you lift the document, the top pages make it look like a routine copy job as opposed to something you are not supposed to have your hands on!

Always remember that your employer may have tracking software that records your keystrokes. Hopefully, you have a home computer/lap top. If so, this is where you should do your writing and emailing. If at all possible, don’t do any of this at work.

If you must print an important electronic file, think of what other documents you can print along with it that will make it seem like you have a legitimate reason to print this group of files. Don’t just print one electronic file that can blow the lid off of what your employer is doing. Try your best to conceal your intentions.

Final tip...don't ask anyone at work if they know a lawyer you can use for a workplace complaint. You don't know what they will do with the knowledge that you are seeking representation. Remember, staff can end up with promotions, bonuses, etc. for looking out for corporate interests. That's all the motivation anyone needs to dime out a coworker, who should have been seen as a friend!!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Make it a Habit to Carefully Read all Memos and Email

Most of us work so hard each day that we sometimes feel we’re too busy to give the documents we receive our full attention. We may skim memos, emails, and other communication simply because we receive so many pieces of correspondence that we feel bogged down in paperwork. But, this is a habit that needs to be broken. Therefore, when you receive any paperwork or emails, you need to pay attention to the content.

Many people at work don’t write or state explicitly what they truly mean/feel or sometimes they simply don’t know how to ask for what they want. Meanwhile, there are other employees who use memos and emails maliciously against other employees. For instance, some coworkers and managers may use correspondence to engage in behavior such as passing the blame along to subordinates, insinuating alleged performance deficiencies or trying to do something as underhanded as creating retroactive and false documentation to cover their ass for something they did wrong (e.g., they failed to provide you with need to know information at the beginning of a project and now there’s a problem with one of the tasks that requires they engage in a cover-up.)

This type of coworker or manager will write a memo, email message or will prepare other correspondence that contains language they’ve massaged and pulled in every direction. Plainly put, there are a lot of sneaky ways to get a message across without coming right out and saying it. I have been amazed at how powerful some of the suggestions were that people have made in emails and memos. These suggestions can lead to explosive conclusions.

So, I’d suggest you not take anything for granted. Learn to understand when you are being documented, so that you can address this problem sooner rather than later, when things may have gotten well out of hand. Anytime you read correspondence, particularly memos and emails, make sure you’re reading with a healthy dose of paranoia. This is an especially important tip, particularly for those who are already under attack or are working with malicious coworkers.

Here are some suggestions for reading corporate communication:

Examine who has been included on the distribution list. This tip applies to memos and email. It’s very important to figure out whether or not you are being “told on,” in real time, or if you are engaging in a private conversation. Ask yourself this question:

In your best estimation, is everyone included on the list relevant to the subject matter? In other words, have supervisors, managers or executives been included on the list, when they are normally excluded from this type of communication?

Strongly connected to this, are you being documented? In other words, is a negative pattern of behavior being created in written format? Are any “red flag” words included in the documentation? If so, this is potentially a very dangerous piece of correspondence and you should make a decision about when and how to respond.

Red flag words and phrases include:

· “Consistently” or “often” or “frequently” or “repeatedly” or “chronically” or “habitually,” etc. - The point is that you have allegedly demonstrated a PATTERN of making the same mistake or exhibiting the same negative behavior, such as demonstrating a bad poor attitude, arriving to work late, missing deadlines, etc.

· “I’ve noticed…” – For the same reason as above.

· “Many people…” or “Some people…” or “A number of people…” or “Everyone” - The point is to show that there is corroboration for the accusation. It’s not just one person’s point of view that you have a problem--everyone or many people allegedly believe the same thing. People making this statement, generally won’t name names, they’ll just make a blanket statement about so-called mass perceptions about you.

· “I’ve talked to you in the past about…” - The point is not just to criticize you, but to show that you have shown no improvement in some negative behavior that was previously brought to your attention.

· “I’m concerned by…” or “I’m puzzled by…” or “I’m troubled by…” - The point is to show that there is something extremely off-putting or unprofessional about your behavior and that it likely represents a potentially major problem.

· “If you would have…” or “If you had only” or “I thought that you…” - The point is the “you” part of the sentence because the writer is stating that you are solely to blame for something going wrong.

These are just examples of some subtle ways that you can be documented for performance deficiencies at work. If the allegation isn’t true, this represents a potentially devastating problem; in terms of your ability to maintain a positive reputation and any impact the misrepresentations may have your performance evaluations, etc.

Receiving one criticism may not be a big deal, even though it could represent someone’s effort to document you. It’s the form that the criticism takes that makes a written complaint have the potential to be extremely damaging to your reputation. It’s one thing to be told that you have missed a deadline, but it’s another to be told that you “consistently” miss deadlines.

Other tips:

Read between the lines. Get into the habit of dissecting everything someone has written to you. You don’t want to engage in psychoanalysis of every email, however, you really need to look at the overall message someone is including in a message to you or about you. People can be really sneaky, especially when it comes to composing email. As with any type of writing, there’s much that can be communicated without being expressly written. You need to develop the habit of really reading emails, not just skimming them.

Address misrepresentations and character assassination. Unlike some in the workplace who write cryptic and Delta Force style correspondence, there are others who will come right out and make negative statements about those they supervise or work with. When you run across a person like this, regardless of level, it is up to you to:

Clear up any misrepresentations by responding with facts. Don’t get into name-calling or write an emotional response. Just present the facts and list any witnesses who can substantiate what occurred. Additionally, you may also want to refer staff to supporting documentation, such as previous emails, instructions disseminated to the project team or other information in your possession.

Have a zero tolerance policy for anyone attempting to slander your name and/or falsely assassinate your character.

Don’t be defensive. Instead, address any issues head on, including what may have lead to the individual’s false characterization of you. If you believe that some prior incident may have sparked someone’s false perceptions about you, clear it up. If something you did was taken out of context or misunderstood, explain your intentions and clarify the cause of the confusion.


Friday, January 18, 2008

What Sparked the Racial Debate?

This post is simply here as a lead-in to the post below, about Blacks hating on Blacks. That post discusses the disgusting behavior of Robert Johnson (former owner of B.E.T.) and Rep. Charles Rangel (Black-Dem-NY). I’m including this post because it’s necessary background on how the race issue escalated all weekend between the Clinton and Obama camps. And, it explains why Johnson and Rangel made comments in the first place.

Sen. Clinton was fighting accusations that she diminished the role that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. played in the creation of the Civil Rights Act. In a nutshell, it came across—to some people—that she was downplaying his contribution and propping up the role of President Lyndon Johnson. In essence, it was perceived that she was saying that it took a White man to save Black folks by passing the Civil Rights Act, despite how great Dr. King may have been.

Now, I also want to explain why I believe the entire race-based discussion that rampaged all weekend was legitimately sparked by her comments. Let’s quickly look at the context for why Sen. Clinton felt compelled to make comments about Dr. King and LBJ.

1. At the New Hampshire debate, Sen. Clinton said that Sen. Obama shouldn’t give Americans “false hope” with promises of change in the country.

2. Sen. Clinton also said that words were great, but that change was hard work.

3. Sen. Obama had a very powerful counter-argument about change leading to some of the greatest moments in our history. He spoke of Dr. King and JFK. And, he said that we shouldn’t diminish the power of words. He said that when Americans are inspired, great things can happen.

4. Sen. Clinton had no response to this argument.

5. Later, Sen. Clinton (probably after consulting with her advisers because they thought Sen. Obama’s argument might get some traction for him) made a statement to Fox News in response to what he said about the power of words. In that interview, she said that Dr. King was a great orator and an inspiration, BUT it took Lyndon Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act into law.

Sen. Clinton’s entire counter-point against Sen. Obama—to the American people—was that he might be a great speaker and he may inspire you, but that doesn’t amount to the kind of power that can get things done or change laws/lives. Only the President can sign laws/get things done.

She needed to prop up the role of president simply to take a swipe at Sen. Obama’s ability to move people through speech. By diminishing the power words, she felt she could diminish some of the sparkle of Sen. Obama. You know the cliché, all talk and no action. I think she was trying to prop up the role of president, in general, to counter Obama’s message. She inadvertently ended up coming across as though she was diminishing Dr. King. She created a hornet’s nest of problems in the process because it clearly was her intent to diminish “the speaker.” Dr. King got swept up in that line of defense against Sen. Obama.

Now that the background is done, let’s get to Johnson and Rangel in the post, below.


Johnson and Rangel: Examples of Blacks Taking Other Blacks Into the Gutter!

Last week, I wrote a post about the ways that Black people often hate on other Black people. I started by discussing comments that Black coworkers have made about Sen. Barack Obama as a way to diminish his candidacy and prop up the candidacy of Sen. Clinton. My point wasn’t that they didn’t have a right to support whomever they chose to support. My point was that they weren’t using any facts and there was a race-based edge to what they were saying about Sen. Obama. I then tied that to the way Blacks mistreat other Blacks in the workplace and how we sometimes assist racists by engaging in “crabs in a barrel” antics at work.

Today, I want to talk about Robert Johnson, the former owner of B.E.T. network and Rep. Charles Rangel of NY. First, to Robert Johnson who stumped for Sen. Clinton over the weekend and went on a nasty tirade against Sen. Obama. Robert Johnson said he was offended by any insinuations that the Clinton’s were racist or diminishing Dr. King. He said:

“And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book –­ when they have been involved.”

And, then he referred to Sen. Obama as “Sidney,” in reference to actor Sidney Poitier’s portrayal of any righteous and noble characters throughout his movie career.

“That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, this ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.”

"What has happened, in my opinion, is that what we have created is the quote-unquote 'perfect candidate' that's like in the movies, that has absolutely no blemishes," a vision that is unrealistic, said Johnson. "White America is saying, 'He's safe for us, he should be safe for you guys,' " Johnson said, referring to blacks. " We're letting other people pick our leaders."

Why is Robert Johnson a hater? It’s not because he supports the Clintons. It’s because he went into the gutter—in a national platform—against another Black man. He went to drugs and drug dealing and he went to the image of “Sidney the super ni**a” to tear down Sen. Obama. Then, he used some race-baiting trying to convince Blacks that voting for Obama was akin to giving White people what they want by letting them “pick our leaders.” If that’s the case, why did Sen. Clinton and not Sen. Obama win in New Hampshire? Clearly, not all Whites are trying to use some Jedhi mind-trick on Blacks folks, if we go by Johnson’s warped logic.

Is that the best Johnson can do? Don't vote for Obama because he "think he White," "act White," "ain't real enough," or "isn't ghetto enough?" What is he talking about?

At first Robert Johnson issued a statement—not an apology—saying that he was talking about Sen. Obama’s work as a community organizer. Only and idiot would believe that, yet Sen. Clinton and former President Clinton said they took Mr. Johnson “at his word.” Yes, they want Blacks to put them back in the White House. Yet, they initially wouldn’t be accountable for one of their surrogates playing to stereotypes and resorting to mentioning drugs (again). Later, Pres. Clinton said that we’d have to ask Bob Johnson what he meant. And, at the Las Vegas debate (on Dr. King’s birthday), Sen. Clinton said the remarks were regrettable. Apparently, she put some pressure on Bob Johnson because he finally issued a formal apology the other day. Bob Johnson called his comments “uncalled for” in his prepared statement. Clearly, this apology supports the belief that Bob Johnson was talking about drug use and not community organizing because community organizing wouldn’t require an apology.

Still, I want you to think about what Bob Johnson had to say.

In the movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner who’s afraid? White people. What are they afraid of? A Black man. Why? Because he’s invading the innermost circle of their lives. He’s getting too close. He’s threatening their race. And, he’s threatening their legacy. They were afraid of him. They were mistrustful. They were offended by his presence. Etc.

This is the argument that Robert Johnson chooses to use against another Black man? Crab in a f*cking barrel!! I don’t care about how they movie ended…Robert Johnson went to the White man’s historical fear of Black men. He conjures up the image of a Black man with a White woman in order to defend the Clintons (even though Sen. Obama has a Black wife). This is just as bad as the ads Bob Corker (Rep. Sen. of Tennessee) ran against Harold Ford, Jr. (Black).

Robert Johnson refers to Sidney Poitier. Super ni**a? Really? When has Sen. Obama presented himself as the “perfect Black man”? If anything, he’s been too damn honest about his flaws, when everyone else around him is lying and refusing to admit to any of their mistakes. Sen. Clinton’s Iraq war vote, anyone?

Sen. Obama wrote about his indiscretions and his life—honestly. More honestly than most people, especially politicians, ever have. Contrary to that, we have former President Bill Clinton saying that he “never inhaled.” Sen. Obama has openly said about his marijuana use, “isn’t that the point.” So, this character attack on Sen. Obama clearly diminishes President Clinton rather than Sen. Obama. I should say, to anyone who thinks this argument through.

By saying Sen. Obama is not a “perfect Black man,” Bob Johnson is essentially telling White people, “this is just another ni**a! He’s no different than the rest of us! You should be afraid of him. You should be suspicious of him. You should be concerned about him coming into your lives.” That is the nutshell of basically calling him super ni**a and openly chuckling about it.”

Now to drugs…Robert Johnson is more of a drug dealer than Sen. Obama. What did Bob Johnson do to our “neighborhoods”? Robert Johnson has propped up how many former drug dealers through his network B.E.T.? He thinks he can bring up drugs, when he’s made his money off of people who brag about slinging cocaine and weed and people who brag about being shot and people who push images of Black women as whores? Robert Johnson has done much more to harm Blacks and perceptions about Blacks—worldwide—through his network, B.E.T. than Sen. Obama. And, he thinks he’s better than Sen. Obama?

Are you kidding me?

If Hillary Clinton had to defend Bob Johnson or Charlie Rangel, do you think she’d attack another White person on such terms? Do you think she’d go to the carpet like this for them? “Oh, that’s just the White man!” Do you think she’d go there?”

Crabs in a barrel!!!

He took it so hard to race, to defend the Clintons, that it sickens me. Now to Charlie Rangel, who said:

"How race got into this thing is because Obama said 'race.' But there is nothing that Hillary Clinton has said that baffles me. I would challenge anybody to belittle the contribution that Dr. King has made to the world, to our country, to civil rights, and the Voting Rights Act. But for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid. It's absolutely dumb to infer that Dr. King, alone, passed the legislation and signed it into law."

Charlie Rangel was DEAD WRONG! Sen. Obama NEVER said anything about Sen. Clinton belittling Dr. King AND he never introduced race into the campaign—he was going to great lengths to keep race OUT of the campaign. Sen. Clinton was on the stump and in interviews mentioning Obama and race (FOX News and Meet the Press). She repeatedly brought up race! You didn’t have any quotes from Sen. Obama until he was asked about Sen. Clinton saying the race debate was his fault and created by his campaign. He responded by saying he found it baffling that Sen. Clinton was blaming him because his campaign didn’t release an official statement. He didn’t say that Sen. Clinton was diminishing Dr. King or anything else. He surprised and baffled that he [Sen. Obama] was being blamed for the fallout.

Rangel went on to say that Sen. Obama was a fool for mentioning his previous drug use and said that Obama probably did it just to “sell some books.” However, Sen. Obama wrote the book after graduating from Harvard Law School. The book didn’t become popular until AFTER he made a speech at the DNC convention for John Kerry and John Edwards! Get it right, Mr. Rangel. It wasn’t until that speech that everyone wondered who Obama was and wanted more information on him.

Mr. Rangel was wrong. He knew it or should have known it before he started running his mouth. In the end, he had to go all over TV saying that he “regretted” making all of the statements. But, why did he do it in the first place and why did he have to go so hard on behalf of Sen. Clinton? Why did he have to go to the gutter against Sen. Obama?

There he was using words like “dumb” and “stupid”—on a national platform—against another Black man. Everyone knows the stereotype of Blacks being of inferior intelligence to Whites. But, here we go playing into our own stereotypes and bringing ALL OF US down in the process!!

“Dumb” and “stupid.” Is that how he should refer to one of our few Black senators? Why resort to name-calling? Why play into stereotypes? Was he that offended for Hillary Clinton that he would resort to making attacks that were slap in a face to all Black people?

I can’t tell you how sorry I feel for Sen. Obama. The Clinton camp is being nasty and poisonous enough to him. They’ve played up race, intentionally, after what may have been an unintentionally offensive comment. They wanted to make Sen. Obama talk about race.

Black people think about it. If he’s talking about race, he is a Black man. He’ is not an American. He is a n*gger. Period! He’s the candidate ONLY for Black people and he can’t possibly win. That is the sole reason why the Clintons kept this going.

To see people like Bob Johnson and Charlie Rangel playing into racially divisive strategy—intentionally or unintentionally—just goes to show how so many Black people in the workplace get caught up selling out, tearing down, diminishing and destroying another Black person. I can’t tell you what I’ve seen Black people do to each other at work. How hard they’ve intentionally stabbed them back. You’ve probably got your own stories of being sold out or torn down by a Black coworker or having seen them do it to someone else. Heck! Maybe your own of the backstabbers or crabs I’m talking about?

Are you?

To watch these prominent Black men publicly eviscerating our FIRST VIABLE BLACK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, just makes me think that we (Black people) may not deserve to have one!!

That is not a misprint.

Maybe we need to get what we have coming to us…a Republican president or Sen. Clinton as president. A republican will typically have policies that ignore or harm some Blacks, especially the poor. And, Sen. Clinton is going to govern from the center, so that she woill be reelected in four years. She won’t pander to Blacks because it would harm her chances for a 2nd term.

“I don’t hear enough from Sen. Obama? What’s he going to do for us?” What have Clinton or Edwards told you they’re going to do for Blacks? Have you called on them to speak to it? Have you looked at C-Span or cable news or online to see/hear his speeches? Yes, there are links you can click on. You can go to Obama’s website ( to click on his speeches. Did you make the effort? Did you click on the links to his papers containing the details on how he will fight poverty, his plans for the environment, energy, etc.?

No? Right? You don’t want to do any work to find out more about him. You just want to complain about him not being Black enough or more specific, etc. Right? Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to tell you anything about “Black Brown” issues as she calls them. You just assume she’s gonna have your back and you assume the worst about Sen. Obama—that he won’t. Keep looking for excuses.

Once we’ve helped derail and destroy Sen. Obama by bringing up drugs over and over again, bringing up stereotypes over and over again, calling him names over and over again, how long before we get another viable Black candidate? I don’t want to hear that one day we’ll have a Black president or hear people telling their kids to dream about it. We’ve had our chance!! And, look what many of us are doing with.

I am so sick of hearing Black people hate on Sen. Obama on such non-issue related terms. We are truly crabs in a barrel. We talk a good game about equality and all the like. But, when push comes to shove, maybe we just want what we’re accustomed to. Maybe we don’t want to hope. Maybe we don’t the ultimate dream to come true.

And, when he’s been done in—with our assistance—we’ll say, “See, White people would never let a Black man be President.” We’ll wash our hands of our role in this! The Obama campaign really makes me wonder about our people. And, what I hear and see saddens me.

Crabs in a freaking barrel!!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Family Emergency

Sorry, readers. I'm dealing with a family emergency. I will be back with a new post tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Playing To Race In Politics And In The Workplace

Hillary Clinton is a desperate housewife.

She felt entitled to the presidency and thought she was just going to waltz back into the White House without breaking a sweat. But, life and reality got in the way and she saw that she might not get her way. Sen. Clinton tried to tout experience to the masses, miscalculating that this was the theme for the ’08 elections. She lost Iowa.

Then, she tried to steal Obama’s theme of change saying that she had experience that could lead to change. She barely won New Hampshire—Clinton country. So, she panicked. She called together big-wigs in the Democratic Party, so they could figure out what was going wrong and how she could slow down or stop Sen. Obama’s campaign. In doing so, she showed her true colors. That’s why I’ve come up with a list of 5 top-of-mind ways that Sen. Clinton’s actions are similar to tactics companies use against complaining Black employees:

1. She devised a “scorched earth” plan similar to the way corporate execs or HR staff develop a “scorched earth” plan to use against an employee complaining of race discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. “Scorched earth” is used to silence, destroy, and seek the termination of a complaining employee. “Scorched earth” is an onslaught designed to be so unbearable that almost any reasonable employee would shut up or resign, rather than continue to be subjected to its wrath. (See for what is alleged to be a possible “backdoor” to Hillary Clinton’s war room)

2. She and her surrogates are using racially-based slander and innuendo to sully Sen. Obama’s reputation and to reinforce stereotypes. There have been at least 3 instances of Sen. Obama being accused of being a drug dealer by Clinton’s surrogates/supporters, including Robert Johnson (formerly of BET). Each time the remark has been subtle, but very clear…Sen. Obama used drugs and may have sold drugs. The repeated mentioning of drugs and drug dealing could only be done with the sanctioning of Sen. Clinton. It is her campaign. Clinton and her surrogates are engaging in race-based shenanigans that are similar to workplace campaigns that are designed to destroy the reputation of Black workers, to turn them into pariahs, and to cut them off from any potential support groups. Unsubstantiated claims are often made and are possibly retracted, but the damage is done.

3. She’s accusing Sen. Obama of being racially divisive and of causing the fuss that is permeating the airwaves. Just as is often the case in the workplace, she is making the Black person the troublemaker and the “race-baiter.” A friend of mine was accused by an HR manager of being a “segregationist” and a “race-baiter” because she tried to stand up against false attacks by her White supervisor and a White coworker. She was told she was playing for race because she was probably planning a lawsuit. That’s the trick…Whites play up the Black person as the one with racial issues and pretend to be innocent of any racial biases or motivations.

4. She is trying to get Sen. Obama off message. Just as in the workplace, complaining employees are often forced off the issues due to the workplace bait and switch. For instance, you start a meeting trying to explain that someone called you a monkey and end up discussing whether or not you are sensitive. Before you know it, you are never discussing that you were called a monkey and are only defending yourself against being sensitive, hypersensitive or of misunderstanding the events that transpired. This is the switch Clinton is trying to pull on Obama, trying to get him talking about Black vs. White, instead of about America as a whole.

5. She’s playing on the African-American habit of hating on other Blacks—to the benefit of Whites. She can count on attacking Sen. Obama, even racially, and STILL feel confident that some prominent African-Americans will publicly defend her. They may criticize her or warn her behind the scenes about her tactics, but the public face of these Blacks will show support for the White establishment. For instance, Robert Johnson (will discuss him tomorrow) called Sen. Obama a drug user and drug dealer through innuendo. This is similar to the workplace. Black employees are often coerced (through bribes, fear, etc.) or will volunteer to isolate/ignore or assist in targeting a Black coworker for the benefit of the Whites. Blacks are must decide if they will participate in the campaign against a targeted Black worker or if they will “sit it out” and stay on the sidelines—pretending not to hear, see or know anything about anything.

Some have asked if Hillary Clinton made the MLK remarks to lead to this point of racial debate. Who knows? But, she has played this at every turn to escalate the racial overtones. Clearly, she sees this discussion as a benefit to her long-term goal of winning the Democratic nomination. Wall Street Journal Writer, Peggy Noonan, says that Hillary Clinton is willing to do anything to win (read: destroy Barack Obama) and will deal with the fallout [with Blacks], when she gets to that point.

Yet, for some reason Blacks are willing to overlook all of these race-based tactics. We are still salivating at the chance to vote for her!! This is not about Blacks being sensitive. If Sen. Clinton misspoke, with the Lyndon Johnson vs. MLK comment, she should have said so. Instead, she chose to accuse Sen. Obama of planting thoughts and words in the ether, like he and his campaign staff have some sort of mass Black-people mind control apparatus at their fingertips.

Hillary Clinton has played the race-card to perfection. Sen. Obama has been running as an American candidate. Focusing on race has never been his intent because (as anyone with common sense can tell you) focusing on race virtually guarantees he won’t get into the White House. America will never vote for a Black man, who they feel is “racially polarizing.” You know what I mean…like Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, who both ran for president and failed to get the nomination. White Independents and Republicans, like the sort who’ve voted for Sen. Obama in Iowa and New Hampshire, will now feel much more comfortable considering him as “unelectable” because they will now focus on his race and not his message of “change.” Sen. Obama talked about doing things differently and now he is being entrapped into a race-based discussion that will get people thinking…see it’s just more of the same…he’s full of sht*t!

Black people…WAKE UP!

Sen. Obama has a reason for trying to keep things out of a racial focus. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose. He will NEVER be president, if he runs a campaign that seems to make everything a Black this vs. a White that.

This days-long debate, started by Hillary Clinton, benefits her in the long-term. She can rally Whites to her side because it’s her side they will pick, when it comes to a race-based issue. Whites, who’ve shown they are open to voting for Sen. Obama, will now think even harder about supporting him because he now looks like another run-of-the-mill, chip on his shoulder, angry, drug dealing Black man, who is militant and sees racial issues in the clouds!

Some of us have been so focused on labels (wondering why Obama doesn’t talk about being Black and why he doesn’t bring up Black issues every 2 seconds). Well, you wanted labels…

Go ahead and thank your “girl” Hillary for coming hard with them. In one fell swoop, she’s taken Sen. Obama from a viable candidate to a street-corner, drug slinging ni**er. How about that label?

Did your “girl” do you proud?

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a web site, which is alleged to be a “back door to her [Clinton’s] war room.” The link is This site includes a post that is asking if Federal Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, is going to “destroy” Sen. Obama for some connection to an “indicted slumlord” and because of “shady [land] deals.” The more you look at the site, the more it reads less like some regular blogger and more like a politician or political aide fronting as a blogger. It’s way too strategic and the negative information is really out there as far as character destruction. Check it out and then feel real proud about your candidate.

Have a great time pulling the lever for her in the primaries and general election.

I for one will NEVER vote for Sen. Clinton now. Her race-based politics hit way too close to home for my taste and I don't believe any of it is an accident. I don’t care who the Republican nominee is…Hillary Clinton ceases to exist in my book. She can't count on this Black person!

Tomorrow, I want to deal with Robert Johnson having the audacity to go to the drug issue, when he gave us all the stereotypes and former-drug dealing rappers on BET! Talk about timely…this fits right into my Blacks Hating on Blacks post from a few days ago!

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Friday, January 11, 2008

What Would You Know About the Race-Card?

Many Whites will throw around accusations that Black workers just play “the race card.” Most times, they never know the full facts about what a Black worker has suffered, but they still feel it’s okay to throw around “the race card” and “race-baiter” labels as if Blacks have nothing better to do with their time.

Do they ever stop to think about the additional mistreatment that a worker will often encounter after filing a complaint of race-based discrimination, harassment or retaliation? Even a victim of sexual harassment can tell you that accusers are often subjected to additional mistreatment, following a complaint.

So, I ask…who willingly puts their life into chaos simply to make a false claim? The number of workers willing to file false complaints and to put themselves in a position to have an even bigger bulls-eye painted on their forehead has to negligible.

When I filed my complaint with a state agency, alleging race-based retaliation and discrimination, the case worker strongly suggested I not file the complaint until I’d left employment with the company. She said that her agency found that attacks and illegal misconduct often escalated AFTER a person filed a complaint.

She said many employers would often document all sorts of false issues and get witness statements against a complaining employee in order to discredit them. In fact, she came right out and said that many employers looked for ways to “set up” complaining employees, while they were still employed.

She said these actions were taken because employers hoped that any evidence (false or real) that they could come up with would create a pretext or cover story for all of the decisions that had been made against the employee in the workplace. There was also hope that creating patterns of poor performance or bad attitude, etc. would justify why an employee was being targeted by HR staff, managers, directors, etc.

Stated plainly, even when being investigated by a state or Federal agency, many employers continue to engage in illegal abuse against complaining employees.

Again, who puts themselves in this position simply to be a race-baiter or to play the so-called race card? It is not worth it from an employment/financial, physical or emotional standpoint. Depending on where a worker is geographically location, they may have an issue of dealing with courts that don’t like to take on these cases. So, there’s always an uphill battle, when making race-related complaints at work.

People shouldn’t focus on petty labels like “race-baiter” and accusing someone of playing the “race card.” Unless you’ve experienced the trauma that many workplace complainants are subjected to, you should not be so quick to judge anyone’s motives for filing a grievance.

Real racism and real cover-ups and real targeting of complaining employees makes it nearly unbearable for many workers to see through the process of vindicating their rights through an investigatory agency or by legal means. Many workers walk away and start a career somewhere else. This is often easier than being subjected to continuing race-related mistreatment at a job.

If anyone assumes that many or most Black workers, who complain of race-based misconduct at work are playing the “race card,” then they should look in the mirror and ask themselves about their own race-related biases against Blacks.

No one chooses to be victimized at work.

The number of people willing to “play the race card” and to see it through an internal or external investigation and/or legal scrutiny is probably close to zero. A liar will be exposed!!

You couldn’t pay me to subject myself to the trials and tribulations I’ve endured. I’d rather be left alone to do my job! I’m sure I speak for many others.

By the way, accusing Blacks of playing the race-card (without knowing the facts of a case) amounts to playing the race-card yourself.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blacks Hating on Blacks

I walked into a room to hear a Black coworker telling another Black coworker, “I don’t know Barack [Obama] from Jack. Bill [Clinton] is Black enough for me. I’m voting for Hillary [Clinton] because that’s like voting for Bill. That’s my girl! I don’t even want to hear what Barack has to say.” She said that she couldn’t stand when Blacks acted like they were your “brotha” or “sista,” when “I don’t know them.” Yet, she couldn’t identify a time when Sen. Obama behaved that way.

She then went into a workplace campaign about the joys of Hillary Clinton becoming President. Not a single issue was raised. The point was that “Bill is Black enough,” “blacker than Sen. Obama,” and “good enough for me.”

This worker was making the point that she didn’t know anything about Sen. Obama, so it was fascinating that she was choosing to go out of her way NOT TO HEAR HIM and that she was going out of her way trying to convince other workers to side with her choice of a White candidate.

This worker got me thinking about something many Blacks often talk about in private—how some of us love to be against other Black people, even when our only defense is “just because.”

Although Whites are often pointed out on this blog about workplace racism and discrimination, we have to deal with some harsh realities. One of those realities is that some Black people like to make life difficult for other Black people in the workplace. Some Black people use their own race-based stereotypes about Blacks to determine how they will judge and treat other Black workers.

Black people can make each other miserable at work by being the proverbial crabs in a barrel. I can’t believe some of things I’ve seen Black workers do to each other over the years. For instance, evidence of Blacks hating on each other and making each other miserable includes:

--Having a preference for reporting to a White manager because they can so-call “do more for you” and are “just better,” which results in some of us being resentful for being “stuck” with a Black manager;

--Engaging in a work slow-down, when given an assignment by a Black supervisor/manager;

--Intentionally holding on to an assignment in order to cause work delays for a Black supervisor/manager and out of a sense that you have to be “begged,” which makes you feel important;

--Intentionally turning in sloppy work to a Black supervisor/manager or coworker;

--Pretending not to know how to do something or how a process works, when asked about it by Black coworkers;

--Accusing Black coworkers of being “fake,” a “wanna-be,” etc. because they have been deemed not to be “ghetto” or “real” enough and making these statements to Black AND White coworkers;

--Knowingly spreading false gossip about Black coworkers to White coworkers or actually telling their personal business to White coworkers.

--Being complicit in targeting a Black coworker for mistreatment after they’ve complained of abuse;

--Accepting money and/or a promotion or some other reward for false testimony against a Black coworker;

--Lying to investigators about what happened to a Black coworker (e.g., saying you don’t know anything), not out of fear for your job, but because you don’t “owe them anything;”

--Intentionally making false statements about a Black coworker, who has complained of race-based discrimination, harassment or retaliation;

--Openly finding humor or getting pleasure out of a Black person being targeted by management; and

--Saying there is no racism in the workplace, just because a Black person has complained about it and not because it is true;

These are just examples. I’m sure some readers could greatly expand on this list.

The sad truth is many of us still have a plantation mentality. Instead of focusing on our condition, we focus on what’s petty and we may treat each other in an intentionally harmful manner. We set up false competitions with each other. We envy each other because of success or reward. We seek to bring someone down, who we think believes they are superior to us (e.g., they “talk White,” went to a “good school,” etc.). We find reasons or don’t need reasons to be uncooperative. We feel a loyalty to Whites because we’re grateful they “let us” have a job. We’ve seen friends and family treat each other this way and treat other Blacks this way. We simply may not know any better. There are all sorts of reasons for Blacks hating on each other and walking around with a “that ni**er ain’t shit!” attitude about another Black person.

We need to stop being so quick to tear each other down. We need some self-reflection…a moment to stop and ask why we engage in this behavior. We need to strive to change what is internally wrong with how we think about and treat other Black people. We need to treat each other with the same respect we demand from Whites in the workplace.

It’s fine not to deal with someone and develop a reasonable rationale for why you don’t care for them. But, with Blacks, from my experience, you have people sniping and carrying on with people they don’t know enough not to like.

“That b*tch think she cute.”
“That motherf*cka thinks he’s so smart.”
“He ain’t gonna tell me what to do.”
“She thinks she can boss me around.”
“She don’t mean sh*t to me.”

I’ve heard it all before and more than once. Just trying to be difficult and trying to find a way to cause some grief. Many of us don’t mind being crabs in the barrel.

Going back to politics, some people raise legitimate issues with Sen. Obama and some just seem to be repeating what they’re hearing White people say. They can’t go into any deep discussion about their criticisms, at least, not more than what they’ve heard. Of course, there are questions about the Senator. And, there should be.

But, I hear Sen. Obama being torn down by many Blacks on a regular basis. “He ain’t this.” And, “He ain’t that.” And, “He thinks he’s all this.” And, “He’s not saying he’s that.” And, “His mother is White.” And, “He’s not really Black.” It goes on and on.

Anyone who thinks Sen. Obama can count on Black people to vote for him solely based on race, doesn’t know enough Black people. I don’t care if all Black people had their concerns or fears resolved. They would STILL find a reason not to support this man because, just like in the workplace, there are Black people who are going to be difficult with Sen. Obama…just because. Some of us seem to be hard-wired that way!

When it comes to the workplace, we will never free ourselves from discrimination and other illegal behavior, when we choose to focus on needlessly destroying and being difficult with the Black people we work with. This reinforces our targeting by those in the workplace, who would choose to treat us in a disparate and unequal fashion.

We can’t fight the real battles that need our intention, if we simply desire to focus on petty squabbles of our own making. Let’s all look inside ourselves this year and identify how we may be contributing to any issues in the workplace and how we can make things better. And, let’s strive to stop being difficult with each other for reasons that are without merit!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Black-on-Black Work Relationships Are Often Impacted by White Perceptions and Interference

I’ve been blogging about how the White media has been speculating about Sen. Barack Obama’s relationship with Black voters. It’s been:

--Is he Black enough?
--Is he too educated to appeal to Blacks?
--Will Blacks abandon their loyalty to the Clintons for him?
--Will Blacks vote for him simply because he’s Black?
--Blacks shouldn’t vote for him simply because he’s Black because it will show how far the country has come.

It boils down to White analysis of Black relationships, which is not something that’s confined to politics. In many workplaces around the country, there is also speculation about Black on Black relationships. There is often analysis of Black on Black relationships. And, there’s sometimes interference in Black on Black relationships...

particularly if one of the Blacks involved is a supervisor or manager.

I’ve heard many complaints from Black managers about having their authority and decisions questioned by White counterparts based on how their relationship with Black subordinates and staff is perceived by Whites.

For instance, when Black managers have Black subordinates, they report feeling pressured to have a distant relationship with their workers and to be strict with them. Specifically, they’ve felt that Whites perceived they would be easy on staff, let them goof off, allow the quality of work to slip, and would allow a party atmosphere in the workplace out of need to show same race preferential treatment or loyalty. They felt that Whites were just waiting for anything that showed they “favored” Black staff. They also spoke about a feeling of having White staff watch them. By “watch” I am referring to a sense of heightened surveillance of Black managers. I can give you three examples of heightened scrutiny based on race:

(1) I’ve spoken to a Black manager, who was assigned to an office where certain staff (read: Black and Hispanic) were being pigeonholed into performing work that should have been shared with their White counterparts. The White counterparts did not like these assignments, which needed to be performed on a daily basis. Because they didn’t have to do this work, they were free to tackle cases and other duties that significantly improved their performance charts and went a long way in securing them a superior performance evaluation, compared to their minority counterparts. As a result, all of the bonuses for this classification of employees were going to White staff.

This Black manager came in and saw the unfair process and its impact on that classification of employees. She completely revamped the process, so that everyone was performing these duties—as they should based on their job description. Immediately, the White subordinates complained to a White director that she was showing preferential treatment to minorities based on race. But, the issue was that she was balancing out inequity that was established on racial lines, by the former White manager. When Whites didn’t have to perform this work because they complained and had the work removed from their list of duties, it was all good. When the workplace became fair, there was a problem.

The White director immediately sided with the White staff and called the Black manager into a meeting. He asked why she changed the procedure and told her it looked biased because it seemed to favor the Black and Hispanic employees and would hamper the productivity of the other (White) staff, who were excelling.

She explained that it was unfair and potentially illegal to have only Black and Hispanics performing the most mundane portions of their job descriptions, while freeing their White counterparts to do the more significant work, which they all were supposed to be performing. She reminded him of the unfair impact on performance evaluations and bonuses. And, she reminded him that their office was scheduled to be audited on an employee-by-employee basis. Productivity was going to be examined and, if it was found that the office—as a whole—wasn’t pulling its weight, the office might be closed! By freeing up everyone’s time, so that everyone could tackle cases, everyone was able to contribute to the overall productivity in the office. As a result, all of their jobs would be more secure. Finally, she again reminded the director that her decision was the only fair decision to make and she made it within her authority as manager of all those employees.

The White director looked at her for a moment and said, “You’re right. I didn’t think about it that way.” The procedure stayed in place, but those White subordinates began making false claims against this manager out of a desire to retaliate against her because they were forced to do assignments they thought were beneath them.

What struck me the most about this is how easily the White director was lured into questioning fairness. No one was being asked to do anything they weren't supposed to be doing. He should have immediately recognized that there was NO ISSUE!!

(2) I’ve mentioned before that my good friend was a manager at our former place of employment. She was responsible for supervising many staff. At first, her subordinates were both Black and White. Eventually, they were all Black. It wasn’t until her staff were all Black that Whites in the department (including the director) began to raise the issue with the Black manager that she needed to appear “impartial” with her staff.

The problem was that, at the time, all of her staff were Black. She was encouraging her staff to learn new skills and seek out training opportunities, as she always did. And, she was really pushing for them to gain the confidence, skills, and experience needed to improve their job performance and to advance within the company. This caused problems because there were same-level White workers that were already being promised promotions. Since she no longer had White subordinates at that point, any promotions in her section would involve a Black person.

It was at that point that this Black manager was perceived as being a “segregationst” and that she was accused of a lack of “impartiality.” In fact, this Black manager was told that she was perceived as having an inability to “differentiate” between her level and the level of her Black staff. She was accused of being “too friendly” with her staff, possibly because she didn’t intimidate them and they were comfortable speaking to her and working with her.

This manager was instructed to avoid going to lunch with her Black subordinates because it increased the perceptions among staff (White) that she was engaging in favoritism and couldn’t distinguish her management level. This was despite the fact that every White manager in her department and around the company (including in my department) often went to lunch with their White subordinates. Even more telling, some of them engaged in after work activities with their subordinates. But, there was no warning for anyone except this Black manager because the assumption was that Whites would be so-called “impartial” with their staff.

When it was all said and done, this Black manager was stripped of her staff. Her staff were reassigned to work for White managers. They divided them up like splitting poker winnings! The Black manager had her assignments stripped from her and divided among these new managers AND her former subordinates, leaving her with no work and attacks on her employment.

Apparently, some Whites think that only other Whites have the ability to be fair, impartial, and unbiased with their staff. There is no expectation that there will be favoritism on such an egregious level that it must be monitored. This is sometimes an issue for Black managers. Whites show preferential treatment for each other all the time except it’s always justified, when they do it.

(3) I have personal experience with White interference in my relationship with a Black manager. When I was employed in the HR Department at the headquarters of a national bank, my Black supervisor gave me a great year-end performance evaluation because I had a great year. This was in regard to my productivity, professionalism, meeting or exceeding deadlines, being proactive, preparing procedures, working large amounts of overtime, etc.

When my supervisor submitted my review to our White VP, he was told point blank, “I don’t believe this.” He handed the evaluation back to my supervisor and told him to rewrite it “for real” and with more criticism of my job performance. At the time the White VP made this request, he’d only worked at our company for several months. He didn’t know me from Jack and knew nothing about my work effort and performance for the previous year. So, on what basis could he dispute my performance evaluation?

On nothing but race! I can be assured of this because this VP made racist jokes in the HR department, including outside the Director’s office door. I was the only one to tell him that he wasn’t funny and I found his jokes offensive. But, getting to my performance evaluation…

This same VP didn’t question the performance evaluation of a single White person in our office! But, he disputed mine and wanted my review rewritten because he thought my Black manager was trying to "hook me up."

What did my Black supervisor do? He asked me to sit down with him to write criticisms of myself to include in the revised review. He said we wouldn’t include anything “too bad” because it wasn’t true, but just enough to “satisfy him.”

I refused and said that I was going to resign. I started to write my resignation letter. My supervisor had an immediate change of heart and said he would stand up for me and stand by my review. Why?

I asked my supervisor if any part of my review wasn’t true. He said, “No.” I asked, “So, why would you change it.” Then, I came right out said, “If you were White and I was White, this would not be happening.” He said, “You’re right.” He refused to rewrite my review. So, this White VP rewrote it himself. Now, remember, he never worked with me. So, he rewrote it without specifics and made claims that I had the all-famous personality issues that many Black workers are falsely accused of. I was accused of missing deadlines, with no specifics. Other false claims were made. I was told that I should have “anticipated things” that had nothing to do with my job, my job level or anything within my authority. A review was submitted with no input from my immediate supervisor.

I contacted the HR director and challenged this review. The White VP stood by and engaged in more activity that was even more revealing of his racial animus toward me. The VP prepared a 10-question survey asking questions about me (my personality and work) and sent it around to several departments in our company. Talk about disparate treatment! Even White staff called to inform me that the survey was being circulated and to ask me what was going on. I couldn’t believe I was the target of a questionnaire whose sole purpose was to solicit negative commentary on my job performance and to slander me around the company.

But, it didn’t work. The questionnaire confirmed my original performance evaluation. The original evaluation was resubmitted and the fabricated review was stripped from my employee file. I never got an apology, not a bad deal since I don’t value insincere words.

But, the VP got one of his agendas established. He strained the relationship I had with my Black supervisor. From there on out, we both felt a bit of paranoia about our positive working relationship and felt that it was harder being congenial with each other. Once, when we were both ill, we were “jokingly” accused of making out in the parking garage. I guess Black men and women are so sexual that we are perceived as just not being able to keep our hands off each other. For a time, my supervisor was very stiff and uncomfortable around me because he felt his job as a manager would be in jeopardy because of the amount of attention my performance evaluation received around the company.

These are just three quick examples of how White pressure, perceptions, and interference can change how Blacks are able to interact with each other at work. In many ways, it is like being on a plantation. On the plantation, everything Blacks did—and even thought—was under the control and influence of Whites. Blacks were pitted against each other based on skin-colored, roles, etc. This was all the doing of the slave master (look up Willie Lynch).

We continue to face pressure and heightened scrutiny, when it comes to our working relationships. The same way the White media has expressed the fear that some Blacks will favor Senator Obama based on racial loyalties, some Whites in the workplace have those same fears.

And, unfortunately, some of these people will do anything in their power to act on those fears and to unduly influence the thoughts and actions of managers and workers. This goes a long way in perpetuating some of the many double-standards that Blacks deal with in the workplace, as well as in other venues.

A Black manager shouldn’t have to fear making positive employment decisions for a Black worker because it will be viewed as reverse racism or favoritism. A manager shouldn’t have to fear being stripped of their position because a racist is accusing them of reverse racism. White managers make decisions every day, which are accepted at face value. The same respect should be given to Black managers.

Finally, Blacks in the workplace should be able to work in a positive, peaceful, and productive atmosphere without White assumptions and interference in those relationships. Unfortunately, if Blacks aren’t acting like crabs in a barrel, some people just aren’t satisfied!

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

When Does Inexperience Stop Whites from Getting a Job?

The post I was going to upload today is on hold until tomorrow because I heard something else about Sen. Obama that lit a fire under me. As you keep reading, you’ll see how I’ve tied this in to the workplace.

Yesterday, Sen. Clinton really began attacking Sen. Obama because of her devastating loss in Iowa. She’s really upped the discussion on his so-called inexperience, saying that people should vet him and see where he’s stood on issues. Then, she shed some crocodile tears in front of a group (largely comprised of female voters) because she worried that while she is ready to “lead from day one [in the White House],” others haven’t really thought it through (referring to Sen. Obama). So, her main argument against Sen. Obama is that he doesn’t have the experience to bring change. But, what really pissed me off is when Sen. Clinton invoked the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. against Sen. Obama. She said a beautiful speech can be inspiring, but it can just be words without the ability to back it up like King did.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to galvanize people of all colors and ages based on his oratory. His inspiration and HOPE for a better way and a better day prompted people to pay more attention to the issues, to vocalize their dissatisfaction with the status quo, to stand in harms way at lunch counters, at protests and marches, etc. His WORDS of hope gave people a desire to—not follow him there (he even said he might not make it there with us!)—but, to keep fighting for a better life, which would be devoid of racism, double-standards and inequities, injustice in the courtrooms, etc.

This is the hope that Sen. Obama is tapping into! Who says he can’t deliver? We just don’t know that!

Not a single person running for President has been president. None of them have experience! They will all be Presidential virgins!! It’s a crap shoot with anyone.

Some Blacks are saying that they really like Sen. Obama, but that Hillary is their “girl” and she’s got the so-called experience. Who says that Sen. Clinton can deliver anything for Americans? Who says she can unite the country? How do you know that?

She’s been running a centrist campaign designed for a general election. She’s not saying anything about doing anything for Black people. She’s just counting on our vote. If she gets in the White House, she’ll be governing in a way that she hopes will ensure her reelection in four years. So, what’s she going to do for Blacks that wouldn’t alienate some of her White constituency down the line? Think about it.

Let’s say that Sen. Obama is inexperienced…

So what!!!

When has inexperience stopped White people from attaining a better position in the workplace? Let’s be real, President of the United States is just the highest job in the country!

Think about all of the unqualified White people you’ve worked with throughout your career.

Now, think about all of the unqualified White people you’ve worked with throughout your career, who’ve held positions of authority over you (directly or indirectly). How’d they get their job?

Was it nepotism? Did friends or family pull some strings?

Was it race-based loyalty? They were given a chance simply because they were White?

Was it their status within the community? Did they come from a well-to-do family or previously hold some esteemed position somewhere? Etc. Etc. Etc.

I believe it was Chris Rock, who said something along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing), “White people would rather hire their 52nd retarded cousin, then give somebody Black a job!”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some people are able to rise to the challenge of being unqualified for their job. They are quick studies and are inherently intelligent enough to figure it out. They may have good social skills that allow people to reach out to mentor them and provide guidance as they adjust to their new position. But, the point is they STILL STARTED THE JOB UNQUALIFIED!!!!!

So, I ask, again, for you to think about all of the White workers you’ve encountered, who were:

--unqualified AND racist;

-- unqualified AND unintelligent;

--unqualified and continually incompetent;

--unqualified AND a bully;

--unqualified AND lacking social skills;

--unqualified AND accountable for the results of their actions/blaming others when sh*t blew up in their faces; or

--unqualified AND lazy.

I could go on.

The point is…when does being unqualified stop Whites from attaining AND KEEPING their job? Unqualified Whites are given a chance all the time!

George Bush was not only unqualified, he was a liar! He never intended to come in and be a “uniter and not a divider.” He always had this neo-conservative agenda he planned to execute, which he knew would alienate Democrats and some moderates/independents. He never planned to bring the country together. Evidence of this is how divisive he became after Sept. 11th. He tore this country apart on party lines after a national tragedy.

Bush’s issue wasn’t that he was unqualified. That was the least of his problems. His real issues were his ideology, his policies, his know-it-all attitude, his inability to admit mistakes, his desire to surround himself solely with those of the same mindset, his desire to not hear contrary points of views and strategies, his stubbornness, his desire to isolate himself, his desire to be painted the rosiest of pictures about important issues, and his abrasive attitude and tendency towards cowboyism.

Being President is like being pregnant. You don’t know if you’re qualified until you do it. You don’t know if you’re ready, until you’re there. It’s something you learn as you go along. Period!

Black people, wake up!!! Stop holding other Blacks to standards that you don’t hold Whites to and that many Whites don’t hold themselves to!

A lot of Black people, who are complaining about Sen. Obama’s lack of experience, have other issues with him. I will discuss those issues later this week, in a post about Black people hating on each other and tearing each other down!

In the meantime, I stand by my argument. Why should inexperience stop Sen. Obama? Again, not a single person running for President has been president. None of them have experience! It’s a crap shoot with anyone.

As a Black person, I know what it's like to want a better position and be told (by Whites) that I'm not ready. And, then, being forced to watch some idiot get the in-house promotion. "We're going to promote you next year?" "We're going to send you to training, when the funds come in." I've heard it all before. There's always a catch. Empty promises. Wait! Wait! And, hurry up and wait!! I have to wait, while others don't!

Why not Obama?! Why not now?

He doesn’t have to wait his so-called turn. Who decides when it’s his turn? And, who’s the next White potential presidential nominee who will expect him to step aside, so he or she can run for the office?

Black people, don't confuse Clinton's sense of entitlement with experience!

Decide for yourself!

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

IN THE NEWS: Why Must Blacks Ignore Race, When Many Others Do Not?

I want to touch on something that’s been bothering me. The issue comes out of politics, but it reminds me of issues and mindsets I’ve encountered in the workplace. Today, I’m going to discuss comments that have been made by members of the print, TV, and electronic media about Senator Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy.

First, the media raised questions about whether or not Senator Obama was “Black enough.” I had never heard a Black person asking this questioning or stating they were having some sort of internal debate about this “issue.” That is, until members of the White media began to question if Blacks would support the senator’s campaign.

Second, members of the White media have been making statements wondering if, “Blacks will vote for Obama just because he’s Black.” Or, they’ve come right out and said that Blacks shouldn’t vote for Obama just because he’s Black.

At Saturday’s New Hampshire debate, Sen. Hillary Clinton said that she was an agent for change and that putting a woman in the White House, for the first time, would be a major change. In one of the earlier debates, Sen. Hillary Clinton even stated, “I’m your girl!” as she tried to punch her allegedly inevitable ticket to the White House.

Imagine if Sen. Obama made similar statements about his race. “Hey, America…elect me because I’d be the first Black President. I’m your Negro!” That would be a ridiculous argument for such a lofty position as President of the United States. Sen. Obama doesn’t go around making race his selling point. He has been trying to appeal to people based on common issues and ideals. While many others are focusing on his race, he is trying to be a candidate for all Americans.

Sen. Clinton’s comment that change in this country would be made if she’s elected the first female president was the final straw for me in this whole, will Blacks vote for Sen. Obama just because he’s Black media debate. So, I ask the question…

What if we do elect Sen. Obama just because he’s black? You heard me…

What if we do decide to vote for him just because he’s Black?

Why not? So, what?

How different would that be from the behavior that far too many Whites have historically engaged in, when they discriminate against Blacks—and in favor of other Whites—simply because of race?

I’m tired of some Whites using stereotypes and other biases to target Blacks in many facets of American life. BUT, when it suits them, wanting us to fall into what I will call the Sidney Poitier caricature of the noble Black person. We shouldn’t vote for Obama simply because he’s Black. We should be bigger than that. We should vote White! Again!!

Has anyone told women not to vote for Sen. Clinton because of shared gender identity? No! And, it never comes up. Why not?

Didn’t evangelicals in Iowa vote for Mike Huckabee out of shared religious beliefs? Before the Iowa Caucuses, who told evangelicals they shouldn’t automatically do this? No one! Why not?

Has anyone said that Italians shouldn’t automatically vote for Rudy Giuliani out of a shared heritage? No! And, it never comes up. Why not?

Has anyone told Catholics not to automatically vote for Rudy Giuliani because of shared religion? No! And, it never comes up. Why not?

Has anyone told veterans not to automatically vote for Sen. John McCain because of a shared military background and based on his sacrifice for his county as a POW in Vietnam? No! And, it never comes up. Why not?

We’ve got social conservatives in this country, who will only vote for a candidate based on their stance on socially conservative issues. No one ever questions if they should. It’s accepted that they will and it’s accepted that their support is okay. They are looked at as a reliable voting block for the candidate who is what I will call “like them.”

When former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (Black) ran for the Senate seat in Tennessee, he was up against Bob Corker (White). Corker used White women in TV ads and jungle music in radio ads that targeted Ford solely based on playing into racial biases. Corker won! While many Whites voted for Ford, many Whites didn’t vote for Ford. Do you think all of the Whites, who voted for Corker, did so because they believed in him? Or, did some of them vote for him because they didn’t want that ni**er to win?

So, why must Blacks be noble?

Some vote for candidates based on 2nd amendment rights. Who in the media is asking if they should? Some vote solely on abortion rights based on overturning Roe v. Wade and judicial appointments. Who in the media is asking if they should? Voting on narrowly defined issues and connections makes most people members of voting blocks. Yet, the thought of Blacks doing as everyone else typically does and historically does is frowned upon.

I just want to know why everyone is asking Blacks to be so damned open-minded and noble about voting for someone. Sen. Obama is a viable candidate! So, why must we be the ones to ignore race, when others don’t have to ignore religion or other factors? Why should we tune out his message and his candidacy? Why should we assist in derailing his campaign and efforts?

Blacks have been a loyal and large voting block for Democrats. Well, Democrats have often taken advantage of that loyalty by ignoring our issues, once they are elected to office. What’s wrong with shaking things up now, especially for a candidate that many of us believe in? I know Blacks, who are afraid to vote for Obama simply because they don’t want to “waste a vote.” They think Whites won’t elect him. Iowa is making them wonder if it’s “okay” to vote for him now.

I say, “Waste your vote.” If that’s what you want to call it, go ahead and do it! Support who the hell you want, just like Whites do!

I heard someone suggest that Blacks can show how far we’ve come by NOT VOTING FOR SEN. OBAMA!! Oh, yeah! Well, why should we??? Why do Blacks have to set some other standard?

When Oprah came out for Obama, there was a media frenzy. She’s never supported anyone! She’s playing the race-card! Yada! Yada! Yada! God forbid she really believed in his candidacy. I believe she does! But, what if it was race? So what!!!

You don’t think John McCain is counting on getting votes from fellow veterans?

You don’t think Mike Huckabee is counting on evangelicals and other religious individuals?

You don’t think Hillary Clinton is still counting on women?

You don’t think Rudy Giuliani is counting on Italian and Catholic pride?

So, why can’t Sen. Obama count on us!!!

Tell me what you think. Post a comment!

Tomorrow I will connect this issue to the issues faced by Black managers and their Black subordinates, who are often chided about or are warned not to be perceived (by Whites) as being “too close” or “friendly” or “too impartial” or “too preferential” to other Blacks.


Friday, January 04, 2008

A Reader's Open Letter to the EEOC

A reader sent me a copy of this open letter to the EEOC. I found it to be very powerful. Considering that I am still waiting for the findings of an active investigation against my former employer, I can relate to what is written. What about you? Let us know what you’re feeling. Post a comment!


Dear Sirs and Mesdames:

I will try to be brief but please take the time to read this letter because I wish to convey the feelings that so many live with due to racial animus, profiling and discrimination in the working environment. I have not signed my name because I have an open complaint with your office and I don’t wish to create a bias for or against the outcome. Instead, this is just an honest view of the feelings of hopelessness I’ve experienced since being wrongly accused and targeted because of my race.

I have always been an exemplary employee, yet I have been lied on, falsely accused of improprieties, falsely accused of fighting in the workplace, of being rude and physically intimidating, and suddenly characterized by the stereotypes that are so often used in the media, etc. to depict Black women. The accusations made no sense on their face and the manager and the human resource representative only had to look past the nose on their respective faces to realize this. The new manager was aware of my prior protected activity and made comments to that effect. 30 days later my position was inexplicably terminated. The reasons given were “You roll your eyes at everyone, a sudden lack of work, behavior issues, and performance issues that occurred several and many years ago.”

As stated previously, I have always been an exemplary employee; I never received a negative performance evaluation, I was always lauded as being a great communicator with the ability to foster teamwork and maintain a team-oriented environment. Yet, less than one week into the tenure of a new department manager, I received a negative performance evaluation of “Poor,” was informed that I was confused about who I was, labeled as having communication problems, being antagonistic, hostile, offensive, angry, rude, unprofessional and told that I physically harass and intimidate everyone. I was accused by a coworker and judged guilty without investigation or explanation. The fact that two white women confirmed the false accusations sealed my fate. A defamatory memo was placed in my personnel file to prevent me from transferring out of the department and shortly thereafter I was terminated. This manager allowed coworkers to read the defamatory memo that was placed in my personnel file in case they wanted anything added. So much for reprimanding an employee in a confidential manner.

Coworkers accused me of being rude and hating my job because I refused to “look the other way” each time they attempted to ignore the Federal Travel Regulations, specifically those related to hotel and meal per diem rates, and receipts for taxi services. One employee would request a travel advance in excess of $500, utilize her personal and inexpensive time share type package for company-related business, and then argue about having to reimburse the contract for the additional monies she received for hotel expenses. According to her this was free money, everybody did it, and since I was Black I should know all about cheating the government. I explained this to the new manager and was told that if I wanted to stay employed I was to ignore the Federal Travel Regulations and never question anything that an employee submitted regarding reimbursement of travel costs. I was to submit each employee’s expense report for reimbursement without question, I was not to verify or confirm the expenses.

I am angry, frustrated, hurt, offended, humiliated, and confused. I have bouts of shame yet I have done absolutely nothing wrong. Although normally I am very calm, lately I have mood swings and can’t seem to muster the energy to leave the house. I’m sad, anxious and depressed. I know right now I would benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. But due to the loss of employment, I no longer have health insurance. Besides the loss of income that is associated with job loss, health insurance benefits, sick and vacation leave, pension plan and other company benefits are lost. And, the time and years spent earning an exemplary employment record are also lost.

Employment discrimination continues to exist because employers have become wise in how to effectively discriminate without appearing to do so. This can be accomplished via job classification, i.e., inexplicably a large number of minorities are categorized as administrative support. Using stereotypes, character assassination, personality attacks and lies doesn’t require a lot of written documentation, instead these things travel by word of mouth. Accusing someone of being a poor communicator or having communication issues or being unprofessional can be just as detrimental to an employee’s career, serves the same purpose in denying him/her employment opportunities and on its face, is not illegal.

This is exactly what occurred in my case and I would bet in numerous cases across the country. Employers have learned how to discriminate without admitting to doing so because the employer controls the work environment: institutes the policies and procedures, manages the recordkeeping and the personnel files. Although I believe I write clearly, at times when I speak about my ill treatment my emotions are raw, unmanaged and in the forefront. That’s when I worry about my ability to communicate just how much this has impacted my life in such a negative and wrongful manner. And, I am always concerned about other victims of discrimination who may not be articulate or composed enough to convey the harassing work environment that was suddenly or gradually thrust upon them.

In my case, the former employer instituted a lay-off that disproportionately penalized members of a protected class and claimed extenuating circumstances in order to avoid culpability. Performance problems were fabricated in order to show documentation of performance issues, company policies were ignored and although the company had a policy established for progressive discipline and corrective actions, I received severe discipline and the only corrective action came in the form of the company terminating me.

I would like to know why any person in a managerial position feels they have the right to deny me a promotion, advancement opportunities, mentoring, a salary upgrade, etc. merely because I am Black? Yet, the rogue managers in my situation have done exactly that and have bragged about doing so. One manager informed me that she ran the department and did not give a damn about rules, regulations or the EEOC. With this type of authoritative figure what hope does the average employee have? Because I am trying to maintain professionalism in this letter, I will refer to the managers in my case as people, but other, more euphemistic terms certainly come to mind.

This manager conveyed her shock that I was “so articulate,” but in the next breath said “look at me and look at you, who’s going to believe you? She also informed me that I was not a good employee and would be terminated because she did not want to offend the sensibilities of the organization because I was the “typical Black girl . . . you know you uh roll eyes and suck your teeth uh, oh and you smack your lips and chew gum loudly, you know like other Black girls.”Aside from the fact that I am a grown woman, mother and grandmother and therefore not a “girl,” I don’t chew gum, loudly or otherwise. Nor do I smack my lips, roll my eyes or suck my teeth in everyday conversation, so why pray tell would I behave this way in the workplace? Yet these offenses were put in writing and placed in my personnel file.

I once read an excerpt called “Cages,” which seemed to serve as a metaphor for racial discrimination. For me, the confines of the bird cage sum up the confines of a workplace that is fraught with racial hostility. Who or where do you turn when you are treated unfairly because you are a member of a protected group? Because of an employee’s divergent culture, he/she is subjected to ridicule, harassment, retaliation, humiliation, isolation. Management resents you raising the issue and suddenly your significance and plausibility is in question. Coworkers who are aware of your mistreatment close their eyes and their ears, not realizing that what negatively impacts me today, may negatively impact them tomorrow. Far too often managers bring their biases and prejudices to work, the siblings of racial discrimination into the office. Employment discrimination is offensive, it is insulting, it is meant to categorize, to separate, to exclude. Discrimination makes it too easy for others to take symbolisms, words, and/or beliefs and make them conform to the biases of those in positions of power to discriminate. It is designed to make us all uncomfortable with each other.

There are far too many victims of employment discrimination and far, far too many stories that need to be told. In spite of my trials and tribulations, and the tears that never seem to stop falling, I have never and will never ask “Why me?” or “Why did this happen to me?”

The prevailing question for me has always and will always be “Why anyone?”



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