Monday, April 27, 2009


If you have been a target of racially-based discrimination, harassment or retaliation, I know what your life has been like:

People have tried to make you think you’re crazy. They have made you doubt yourself. They have tried to confuse you—challenging your memory of events. You have probably been sold a bill of goods that has convinced you that you’ve overreacted, that you’re sensitive, and that you’ve misunderstood the English language. You may now believe that you’ve jumped to conclusions. You may have been convinced that you are truly unaccountable for your actions and behavior.

In fact, you now may believe that…


Facing race issues at work is often a battle that minority employees end up fighting alone. And, while it is possible to rely on your personal strength to see yourself through trying times, it is very difficult to do so. It is emotionally, mentally, and physically draining.

That’s why it is so important to establish a true network of friends and family who are willing to assist you or lend you their ear, while you are fighting race-related obstacles at work.

The harsh reality is that most of your "friends" don't want to hear you engaging in repeated conversations about racism at work. The first story you tell may titillate them to some degree. But, after that--for some of your friends--it will feel more like "here we go again!"

For your personal well-being, it’s vital that you have someone who is willing to listen to you and who can provide you with objective perspective on what’s taking place on your job. For instance, they may be able to tell you that you’re tripping—that you’ve gone too far with your conspiracy theories and have jumped into a deep abyss of paranoia. Or, they may tell you that your problem is greater than you perceive and that you may have a problem with your company (as a whole) rather than just with a coworker or supervisor.

Battling racism causes a wide range of ever-changing emotions. You can't deal with it alone without taking some serious shots to your psyche, health, etc. You have to find a way to vent.

Finding people who are willing to keep you sane and to help you stay strong can be hard. Like I said earlier, people are initially engrossed in your horror stories of workplace racism, but that wears off when you are calling them on the phone each night or if that’s all you speak about over dinner.

But, you will have some true supporters, who don’t care how focused you may become about workplace racism. They want to be there for you. So, it’s up to you to find champions, who will support you as you fight your cause at work.

Just ONE true friend can make all the difference in lifting your spirits, coming up with strategies, and staying sane.


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