Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Labels and Stereotypes - There's no "I" in team!

As promised in the last post on this topic, today’s racist label and stereotype is…

You’re Not a Team Player

If you’re a hard worker and you’ve been told that you’re not a team player, chances are you probably told a White person “no” and they didn’t really appreciate it. That’s the easiest way to get this label.

Perhaps, you were asked to put aside a priority assignment with a tight deadline in order to work on someone else’s project with no deadline. Perhaps, you were asked to work on a menial project that was far beneath your job responsibilities or skills set and to which other junior staff were available to help.

On the flip side, you may be told you’re not a team player simply because you’re not trying to please everyone (read: white coworkers and supervisors) while wearing a smile that says you just came to life from the cover of a pancake box (with or without the kerchief). There are just so many ways to get accused of not being a team player that I can’t name them all here.

In my case, I was told that I was “me-centered” which meant that “I was not strong in a team setting.” This complaint about me being me-centered was made because I worked on more assignments that were based in other departments than assignments that were based in my own unit. However, my assignments were pre-approved by my supervisor, who was now accusing me of not being strong in a team setting and being me-centered because I didn’t work with my own group. The point was to deny me a promotion that had been promised to me.

When it comes to hard working and reliable African American employees, being told your not a team player is often not about being self-absorbed with your own assignments and being difficult to work with, it’s about the ability to make a personality-based criticism that doesn’t seem connected to race, yet will make your life difficult and impact your next performance review.

Being told that you’re not a team player often means you’re not playing your role—you know, as a slave on a plantation!

Tomorrow’s label and stereotype is one that every Black person has heard…

It sounds like you’re having a party in here!


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