It's ALL Your Fault...World Hunger, War, You Name It!
As a result, a racist manager like this will come up with other ways to justify denying a promotion to a Black worker. So, the manager will make up a laundry list of false and disingenuous reasons for the denial. The tactics to achieve this/the cap off the toothpaste might include:
--Blaming the Black worker for problems caused by other staff in the department;
--Accusing the Black worker of having a bad attitude or of being insubordinate;
--Stating the Black worker is not a team player; or
--Belittling the accomplishments of the Black worker.
The point is, they will make up some other complaint that hides what their real motivation is—racism! I like to compare this behavior to a couple that has moved in together only to find themselves at each other’s throats. He says the problem is that she leaves the cap of the toothpaste. She says the problem is that he leaves the toilet seat up. Neither of those is the real reason why the couple is at odds. Both of those reasons are simply excuses and cover stories to conceal an underlying problem.
Well, that’s how it is at work. Although you should always do everything in your power to avoid giving White workers and managers ammunition to use against you, remember that any incident or discussion can be twisted and manipulated to fulfill someone’s agenda. Something as simple as the proverbial cap being left off the toothpaste can be sold as if you damn near thrust your middle finger into the client’s face and knocked the person out of a chair!
In my case, I received a report from another office of our company. This report was time sensitive and required feedback from a couple of staff before it could go to our editors for copyediting. So, when I got the report, I emailed it to the other staff that needed to provide input. I included that I’d just received the report—hadn’t reviewed it yet—and asked if everyone could review it—quickly—and mark up a copy with any ADDITIONAL CONTENT that should be included. At that time, I would make a master document with ALL additions and any other changes (read: edits) for our editing team.
I was called into a meeting and criticized because the report, written by staff all senior to me, had a couple of typos in it (exactly 2 typos). I was told that I should have read the report and caught the typos before sending it to other staff for review. The Vice President of our office and her highly senior staff wrote the document and supposedly reviewed it. They were senior to those in my office and just wanted us to add any other thoughts or nuggets that could improve the whole report. Yet, the senior staff were not criticized for sending a report for review that was proofed, but still contained a couple of typos. I was told it was MY FAULT and that I wouldn’t be promoted because those are the sorts of things I should do, in order to work at the next level.
ONE WHITE WOMAN made the complaint about the two typos to my supervisor. She was a known racist in my department. She had a problem with at least 3 other Black women with brown or dark complexions. There were only about 6 Black women at the site out of about 150 employees.
So, my supervisor relays the complaint to me, telling me that I wasn’t going to be promoted, didn’t know how to multi-task, didn’t know how to prioritize my work, and that I didn’t set aside enough time to support this racist’s project.
Yes, ALL THAT from 2 friggin’ typos that came directly from a WHITE VP and her WHITE staff!! The power of White people making complaints against someone Black can have that much weight in some offices and at some companies. How do you extrapolate that many negative connotations from one stupid and petty complaint?
On top of all this, the logic at my company indicated that editors don’t catch typos. Yes, that’s what I was told. Editors are paid to catch typos and other errors, but they don’t. Now, if that logic is true and editors can’t or don’t catch typos, how much success will regular employees have in proofing documents? It’s just a dumb argument to try to use against someone. Professional editors can’t catch these things, but you’re being punished because you didn’t! On top of that, I never claimed to have read or edited the document. It was like, “Anything you want to add to this before it gets proofed?” How hard is that to understand?
Yet, I was told I wouldn’t get a promotion because the assumption was made that I was not going to review the document. And, that even if I did, and didn’t catch the typos—the editors also wouldn’t have caught the typos! I was told the clients would have received a report with typos in it and that it would have been my fault.
HOW MUCH SENSE DOES THAT MAKE?
If you want to argue that all errors should be removed from a first draft before it can be reviewed by anyone else on a team, than you should send that report to your editors in order to catch EVERYTHING! Or, is the argument to quickly fix typos, but leave all grammatical errors and any other problems in place prior to review? That doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s clearly the expectation.
I was told that I should have fixed the typos and not worried about any other problems with the report. Again, HOW MUCH SENSE DOES THAT MAKE? Fix the typos, but leave any inconsistencies and logic errors alone? If it’s okay for review with errors, it’s okay for review with errors. I didn’t do anything that hadn’t been done many times before, when it comes to quick team reviews.
But, it’s the cap was left off the toothpaste argument! It’s the excuse to justify discrimination. After telling me I wouldn’t be promoted, the White coworker (who made the complaint about the typos) and who had outstanding complaints against her regarding her project management abilities (or lack thereof) and her poor communication style (causing problems in other departments) was promoted. There were no complaints like that against me, but I was told I couldn’t be promoted because of a couple of typos made by a Vice President and her senior staff in a NON-FINAL/NON-EDITED VERION OF A DOCUMENT. This is one of the issues I raised in my external complaint against and investigation of this employer.
So, regardless of an issue that is being presented as legitimate, it’s up to you to show that the arguments being used by your employer or manager are nothing more than a pretext to hide their true motives, which are racist, discriminatory and/or retaliatory in nature. You have to build a clichéd house of cards comprised of verifiable testimony (from coworkers or others that have witnessed your mistreatment) and physical evidence (email or other documentation) that can’t be refuted by your employer. Don't let someone use a petty argument to derail your career or to discriminate against you.
If a company decides to go after you, remember that every little thing will be blown up to the most extreme proportions and that you will be blamed for everyone's failures in life and you might even be blamed for a lack of world peace. Mentally prepare yourself to be overwhelmed with a bunch of b.s. and be prepared to fight back.