Wednesday, January 07, 2009

IN THE NEWS: We're Often Only Too Willing To Participate In Causing Problems for Other Blacks

Let's make a post-New Year's Resolution to not be Roland Burris in 2009. Let's avoid doing things that intentionally make life difficult for other Blacks, including our Black coworkers. Let's make a resolution to not be crabs in a barrel for the New Year. Let's say no to the Roland Burris mentality!
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Even if you've only been semi-following the news, you've probably heard the "scandal" of Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, nominating former State Attorney General, Roland Burris (Black), to fill President-Elect Barack Obama's senate seat.

It seems pretty clear that Blagojevich was simply trying to distract the media and country from his "pay to play" allegations, where he's accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's senate seat to the highest bidder. The backstory to this is that Obama was the only Black member of the Senate. So, Blagojevich saw this as an opportunity to cause some drama by nominating another Black man to fill the post.

The discussion isn't about Blagojevich being caught on tape talking about shaking down people to get money for Obama's seat. No, the discussion, from Roland Burris and his supporters, is about how Burris shouldn't be "hanged" or "lynched" for being nominated by a governor, who is under investigation.

Roland Burris decided to use racially-charged language to get a senate seat that he probably was never really in consideration for. He's daring Whites on Capitol Hill to oppose him by making this about White vs. Black. All the while, Burris is intentionally making "no drama Obama's" incoming administration look like one big soap opera. He's throwing around race to get Obama's senate seat and he's making false claims of racism against him in order to manipulate his way into Congress. He ill serves all Blacks, just as anyone else does who makes false claims of racism in the workplace.

It's been disappointing to see this Black man allow a White man to use him in a manner that causes problems and controversy for another Black person (Obama). But, Blacks are no different than anyone else. When it comes to professional ambition and climbing the ladder of success, many of us are just as tempted as members of any other race. Even if we must do something that poses problems for another Black person, some of us are willing to do whatever it takes in order to get that raise, promotion, high-profile assignment, etc.

We are often willing participants in our collective race-based issues at work. The Black workers who are willing to fight are often pitted against the Black workers, who are willing to keep the status quo going by signing company-written statements against a coworker or by making false allegations, such as lying about physical or verbal threats from a Black coworkers or fabricating stories about unprofessional behavior, etc.

For some of us, keeping our eyes on the prize involves taking out other Blacks in the process of attaining personal goals and financial reward. This is a huge reason why it is often more difficult for Black workers to prove cases of race-based discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. For every Black worker who is brave enough to fight the system--even if they eventually lose--there seem to be many more Black workers who are willing to back up the system that was also holding them down. That is, as long as they are getting something out of it!

As we look at issue of racism in the workplace, Blacks need to look in the mirror and assess how we feed into some of our problems. We need to be honest about how we often help our collective workplace abusers and decide to do something different.

We can make a difference. We just have to be willing to do what is right or, at the very least, to not be willing to help tear down falsely accused coworkers, subordinates, etc.

If we can stop intentionally making life difficult for one another by being stereotypical crabs in a barrel, we just might get somewhere!

1 Comments:

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