Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Can't post today. This new position is taking a lot of my attention & energy. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


For anyone going through trials and tribulations at work, try to stay positive and, literally, take this time to remind yourself to give thanks for the things that you do have in your life.

Don't allow any drama or issues at work to stop you from enjoying time with family and friends. Trust me, nobody else is worried about you at the job!

Stay in the moment.

Accept an invitation to go to someone's house or visit a few somebodies! Don't stay home moping around and feeling sorry for yourself. Don't isolate yourself from people.

There IS something you can be thankful for...one thing at the very least.

Thanksgiving and Christmas can be hard holidays to get through, when you've been targeted by someone at work and/or are fighting for job/career survival. It's easy to fall into depression. If you're feeling really down, please talk to someone (friend, family, pastor, etc.) and release what's pent up inside so it doesn't destroy you from the inside out.

Remember this, happiness is a choice. Sometimes, it's a really hard choice depending on what's going on. You may have to work at happiness. It doesn't always come easily. But, you can try to choose your mood. Work at it.

Whatever you are going through, someone always has it worse. You've got people around the world (and in our country) fighting disease, famine, natural disasters, physical and sexual abuse, homelessness and worse. Some are fighting a combination of horrible factors.

So, for whatever it's worth, remind yourself that you still might be one of the lucky ones--despite everything. You have a social network of family and friends, you've got a roof over your head, and you have internal and external resources to fight back. You are not voiceless and you are not without options.

Let joy manifest from your heart, despite it all. You are blessed, even when you don't feel like it.

Let's all take the opportunity to thank those around us for what they bring to our lives. Let's not take the real things for granted. Be thankful and be hopeful. This to shall pass!

Peace and Blessings!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I got the promotion! First day of work is today! It will be interesting to hear the exec give me fake congratulations after trying to keep me out of the job!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Drama...What Else is New?

Lots of drama at work surrounding a promotion opportunity. There are 3 candidates, me being one of them. However, there are only 2 positions, so someone will be left out in the cold.

The drama comes from an executive, who encouraged 2 people to apply for the position and they are both the other candidates. Apparently, she told one of these 2 people that she did not want me to get the promotion. Since I don't work with her, how would she achieve that unless she engages in some sort of behind the scenes sabatoge? Apparently, she's given these 2 people a wink and a nod that they were going to be the ones promoted and I will be left out.

So, yes, I've already gone to corporate about this. They deny any wrongdoing or of being complicate in or aware of her actions. Waiting for the announcement, which will be any day. Will this executive, who's steered these 2 people through the process and past every other candidate except me, be able to come out on top? Who knows?

But, it's definite that she will be at least 50% successful in her plan. Even if I get the promotion, 1 of her 2 flunkies will get the other promotion. Not bad for her, is it?

The good thing is, she was removed from the process as soon as I made corporate aware of what was going on, which coincided with other workers speaking out against this executive in very large numbers. She was kicked out of her office and placed in an open area to work. And, she now has nothing to do with any interviews.

I'm hoping she'll be terminated in the new year. The stuff she's done...I'll have a lot of posts in the future!

Anyway, I'm obviously hoping I get this promotion. I've earned it. If I don't get it, I will consider myself of having been robbed of it and set up and will have to take some sort of action to fight it.

Hopefully, it doesn't come to that.

Wish me luck. I'll let you know what happens next week!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Employer's Affirmative Defense

If you file a charge against your employer alleging some form of race discrimination (violations of the Federal statutes of The Civil Rights Act), your employer will have to determine how to respond to the allegations. Whether you have filed a complaint with an organization such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or you have sought the assistance of an attorney, your employer isn’t very likely to instantly assume full responsibility for any infractions of Federal statutes.

One option your employer has is to file an affirmative defense. With an affirmative defense, your employer won’t have to deny any charges that have been brought. However, the employer will be able to raise extenuating or mitigating circumstances in order to avoid responsibility in a civil case.

An example of an affirmative defense would be an employer arguing that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct harassment. Reasonable care generally requires an employer to establish, disseminate, and enforce an anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure and to take other reasonable steps to prevent and correct harassment.

Despite the attempt to rely on having written policies in place, it’s important to remember that there are no "safe harbors" for employers based on the written content of policies and procedures. However, this doesn’t stop an employer from using this argument in their defense. And, it doesn’t stop the complaining employee from proving that the employer did not take steps—or took inadequate or delayed steps—in preventing and/or correcting harassment.

Another example of the affirmative defense would be an employer arguing that a complaining employee did not take the reasonable and necessary steps to avoid harm from race-based harassment, retaliation, etc. by not reporting the abuse to management or taking advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities.

An employer who can prove they exercised reasonable care may not be liable for unlawful harassment if the complaining employee could have avoided all of the actionable harm. If some but not all of the harm could have been avoided, then an award of damages will be reduced accordingly. The complaining employee doesn’t have to prove they showed reasonable care…that burden falls on the employer. The employer must show that the employee’s failure to complain of abuse was unreasonable.

Keep in mind, even if an employee doesn’t complain the Federal statute recognizes that there may be legitimate reasons for silence on the issue. For instance, if an employee has seen other complaining employees subjected to retaliatory actions (e.g., fired, demoted, subjected to a hostile work environment, etc.), the employee would reasonably fear making a complaint. Additionally, if illegal abuse is so prevalent in the workplace that many people knew about it, the company would be liable for not addressing the problem because the abuse was so widely known that it is reasonable to expect that someone in authority knew of the problem.

Finally, if an employer files an affirmative defense, the employer must prove the validity of the defense. The employer can’t just state an affirmative defense and hope someone buys it. They must prove this defense.

Source: www.eeoc.gov

Monday, November 15, 2010

Document Threats and/or Abusive Behavior

When a person is targeted at work, it is often a traumatic and stressful situation. The impact of being targeted isn’t simply felt because a person is sensitive or hypersensitive, but because a big part of being a target at work involves being on the receiving end of all manner of threats and abuses.

In the initial phases of being a target, many of us go through denial. We try to talk ourselves out of realizing the severity of our situation by downplaying what is going on. After all, denial is one of the easiest ways to ensure self-preservation. If there’s no problem, there’s no issue, right?

But, there’s usually a point of no return for many targets. This is the point where a target realizes that they may have their career permanently derailed, they may lose their reputation, they may lose their workplace friends and allies, and they might even lose their job. The point of no return signals either the fight or flight response in many people.

Fighting involves speaking up about the mistreatment (to a supervisor, HR, etc.), documenting the issues/incidents of abuse, filing for an internal/external investigation, etc.

Flight involves anything from remaining silent about potentially illegal abuse (that has stopped), continuing to be abused and suffering in silence, denying the reality of abuse by pretending nothing is wrong, allowing yourself to continually be denied a promotion without basis, leaving the job and not pursuing vindication for any abuses, etc.

Regardless of the response to abuse, one thing is certain. You must document all incidents and threats—from the beginning. You must document everything even if you don’t think you will ever file a complaint. You can’t possibly know what you may or may not do in the future because circumstances could dramatically change your viewpoint. In order to keep all of your options open, you must make sure that you will have everything you would need in the future, should you file an internal or external complaint with HR, EEOC or a lawyer.

It’s important that you document all types of abuse, such as incidents that serve to threaten your job security and to intimidate you, incidents of physical or verbal violence, etc. All of these would fall under the overall heading of harassment, which creates a hostile and offensive work environment. They could also be evidence of retaliation based on the fact that you complained of abuse, if that is the case.

Keep a list of incidences. It could look something like this:

Threats to my Job Security/Intimidation

1) On 2/1/08 at 4:20 pm, the director of HR stopped me in the hallway and said, “You’d better be careful. We are starting to get the feeling that you are playing the race-card because you intend to file a civil suit. We’re not just going to sit around and watch you set us up with your race-baiting. We will not tolerate that!” My coworker, Debbie, was standing nearby and heard what she said.

2) On 2/4/08 at 11:30 am, my supervisor told me, “You’d better watch your back. Some of us don’t think you like having your job. It doesn’t look like you want to work here anymore. We can make that happen.”

3) On 2/10/08 at 3:15 pm, the director of my department told me that the department was restructuring and that all staff would have to keep a log of our work for an entire month in order to justify our positions. But, when I asked around, I found out that no one else in my department or in my group was asked to keep a log. I have been singled out to justify my employment.

Physical and Verbal Abuse

1) On 2/2/08 at 9:41 am, my supervisor called me a “Black b*tch!” because I declined to analyze research data in a manner which violates research protocol and is unethical.

2) On 2/5/08 at 11:00 am, my supervisor bumped into me in the hallway. I didn’t think anything of it, but it has now happened 4 times today. She will go out of her way to bang into me and the contact is becoming harder each time she does it.

You get the picture. It’s critical that you keep a log of everything, no matter how small you think the incident is—at the time. You may need the dates and nature of these incidents at a later time. Don’t play yourself by not having what you need, when you need it.

Document everything. Log incidents by category, if that helps. Keep a list of witnesses. Record the time of the incident, as well.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LEGAL BRIEF: Using Credit History to Determine Hiring is Becoming a Growing Practice!

EEOC Public Meeting Explores the Use of Credit Histories as Employee Selection Criteria

Growing Practice Can Have Disparate Impact on African-Americans, Latinos; Are Not Predictive of Job Performance, Some Witnesses Say

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a public Commission meeting in October to hear testimony from representatives of various stakeholder groups as well as social scientists and the Federal Trade Commission on the growing use of credit histories as selection criteria in employment.

“High unemployment has forced an increasing number of people to enter or re-enter the job market,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “As a result, an ever increasing number of job applicants and workers are being exposed to employment screening tools, such as credit checks, that could unfairly exclude them from job opportunities. Today’s discussion provided important input into our agency’s work to ensure that the workplace is made free of all barriers to equal opportunity.”

The Commission heard from a diverse set of experts. Chi Chi Wu of the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) expressed grave concerns that the use of credit histories is mushrooming at the time of economic instability for many Americans, noting that the use of credit histories “create[s] a fundamental ‘Catch-22’ for job applicants,” especially during this period of high unemployment and high foreclosures, both of which have a negative impact on credit.” She observed, “You can’t re-establish your credit if you can’t get a job, and you can’t get a job if you’ve got bad credit.” This view was echoed by several of the witnesses.

Sarah Crawford of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever from the National Council of Negro Women, explained that the use of credit histories in the employment context can have a disparate impact on a range of protected groups, including people of color, women, and people with disabilities. While the use of credit checks as employment screens increases, Crawford cited studies that show credit history is a poor predictor of job performance. Additionally, she pointed out that many credit reports are riddled with errors or incomplete information, a view that was echoed by Wu of the NCLC, making whatever predictive value they might have even less reliable.

Representatives from the business community—Michael Eastman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Christine V. Walters of the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and Pamela Quigley Devata of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw, LLP—told the Commission that the use of credit histories is permissible by law, limited in scope, and predictive in certain situations of reliability.

Walters of SHRM said that “13 percent of organizations conduct credit checks on all job candidates … [and] another 47 percent … consider credit history … for select jobs,” but for those employers, “credit histories are but one piece of the puzzle.” It is the experience of SHRM member companies that very few utilize credit histories for every single job opening. Devata asserted that the use of credit histories is driven, in part, by the need for background information on potential employees in a current environment when it is difficult to obtain any but the most basic information in job references.

However, Dr. Michael Aamodt, an industrial psychologist, said that although there is considerable research that supports the use of credit scores in making consumer decisions, there is little research exploring the implications of using credit checks in the employment context. Given the potential for discriminatory exclusion, he concluded that it would be wise to use an applicant’s credit history only within the context of a thorough background check.

This meeting is one of several throughout the year that will examine barriers to employment and their potential adverse impact on protected groups. The statements of all the panelists, along with their biographies, can be found on the EEOC’s website at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/10-20-10/index.cfm.

The EEOC enforces the nation’s laws against employment discrimination. More information is available on the Commission’s website at www.eeoc.gov.

Source: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-20-10b.cfm

Monday, November 08, 2010

Post-cruise brain inactivity. Still not back to reality. New post tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!

Labels and Stereotypes - You Getting on My Last Nerve!

As promised, the next (and last) racially-based label and stereotype we will examine is…

You’re Being Difficult

When a Black employee gets the “being difficult” label, one of four things is likely happening:

· The Black person is asking too many questions, which is resented; or

· The Black person is asking for/demanding something that a White person thinks they shouldn’t have or isn’t in the mood to provide them with at that time; or

· The Black person won’t take “no” for an answer to a request they’ve made of someone White (where there is no reasonable justification for receiving a negative response); or

· An African American refuses to tolerate unprofessional non-responsiveness or evasiveness from someone White.

“Being difficult” is often nothing more than a race-neutral way to let a Black worker know that they are stepping out of line and need to fall back in step with the way the company expects and demands they behave.

While, Blacks can’t be whipped in the workplace, like we were whipped in the fields during slavery, we can certainly be whipped/reprimanded/punished through negative implications about our personalities that can be used to justify mistreatment, abuse, and other illegal behaviors by employers and their agents.

Black employees are often told they are “being difficult” by the same employers who:

--tolerate White workers routinely making demands and threats about their work, work environment, etc.; and

--accept Whites shouting, yelling, and engaging in all manner of acting out in the office; and

--ignore Whites who regularly disrespect the chains of command, company protocol, written policies and practices, and rules and standards of professional ethics, etc.

Those behaviors would reasonably qualify someone as “being difficult,” in my estimation.

Well, that pretty much wraps up some of the most common labels I’ve heard used against Blacks in my years of employment. We’ve looked at:

--You’re angry and defensive
--You can’t take criticism
--You’re not a team player
--It looks/sounds like you’re having a party in here
--You’re unapproachable
--You’re too literal
--You’re being difficult

Stay tuned for new posts. I'm back from vacation!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Labels and Stereotypes - Can't You Read My Mind?

As promised, here’s our brief examination of the label...

You’re too Literal

When a White person tells an African American coworker or subordinate that they are being too literal, what they really should have said was that they forgot to provide the African American with the proper and complete instructions to complete work on a project.

Yes, that’s the easiest way for an African American to get this label. I can’t tell you how many complaints I’ve heard in my lifetime from Black coworkers who were essentially told that they couldn’t think through a work request. The greatest source of Black angst about being called “too literal” is that they received the label based on someone else’s shortcomings in project management or because of someone else’s poor communication skills.

African Americans I’ve spoken to, who received this label, felt they were being provided with project information in a piecemeal fashion. Any request to hold off work until all information was received from clients or managers was shot down. Therefore, there were bound to be issues with the completed project work. As a result, unnecessary errors occurred when full information/instructions were finally provided. The parameters of the project had changed, but the White project manager or supervisor would take no responsibility for ordering the work to be done without the need-to-know information.

Unfortunately, situations like this have led some Blacks to be labeled as being too literal and have caused them to be told that they should have “anticipated” what was needed, even when “what was needed” was not a logical offshoot of what they were asked to do.

Additionally, Blacks are often told they should “read between the lines,” when the real issue is that White coworkers or supervisors should feel the obligation to be clear and specific with their work requirements and requests.

Giving someone the label, you’re too literal, is often simply about a person’s lack of accountability. So, it’s easier to say that an African American should read minds like the Great Mancini.

The issue is never about a White person’s poor planning, poor communication skills, or mismanagement of work and people. Crap rolls down the hill. When it comes to explaining to a manager or client why something didn’t get done, whoever gave you the assignment can easily say that it was the Black subordinate’s fault. The Black worker was too literal and should have known to do work that was never requested!

The next racial label and stereotype will be…

You’re Being Difficult

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Labels and Stereotypes - You Got Me Going in Circles!

As promised, today’s workplace label and stereotype is…

You’re “Unapproachable”

A hardworking Black person that has gotten this label at work probably doesn’t tell White coworkers their personal business, doesn’t try to ingratiate themselves with White staff, is uninterested in the social/professional cliques and so-called power plays of White employees, doesn’t stand around the water cooler chatting up White staff, sits quietly as they wait for meetings to start (before participating), and is likely perceived to be totally unimpressed by White coworkers who take absolute pride in the status they believe they have on the job.

The reality is that we each go to work to perform a job function. No one is paid to socialize, although it is okay to foster friendly relationships at work. But, for some people—regardless of race—they are simply uninterested in opening up to everyone on the job. I’ve said it before in another post…

Don’t share too much of your personal business at work. Far too many White people simply want to get in Black folks’ business. They want to know if we are from the “ghetto,” if we were raised by a single parent, if we are married or intend to get married, etc. And, guess what? Some people are very private. This includes Blacks. Not everyone wants to share their life story or stand around socializing when they should be working.

Hardworking Black people who have gotten the “unapproachable” label at work are often simply people who open up to others as they grow to trust them. They are not antisocial. They are not rude. They’re often friendly on projects, but they discuss work and not much else. Therefore, people just can’t figure them out!

Unfortunately, certain people in our society are far too desirous of the return to the era of smiling Black faces (normally of servitude). But, mammy and sambo are gone—or, they should be. Not every Black person is interested in expressing a high quotient of assimilation by spending large chunks of their workday trying to prove to Whites that they are acceptable. And, those are the Black folks who will normally get this label.

As a result, you’ve got African Americans being told they are “aloof,” “distant,” and “unapproachable.” And, they’re stuck with it—until they sufficiently smile in the faces of White staff or kiss enough White behind at work to show that they are “likeable.”

Yes, only an inhumane level of butt kissing will make anyone White reevaluate whether or not a Black person is actually as standoffish as they perceive.

But, the most interesting thing about a Black person being told they are “unapproachable” is that we also get the 180 degree label of being “overly sociable.” You know, a White person’s way of telling someone they talk too much. There doesn’t seem to be much grey area for Blacks. We either don’t talk enough or we allegedly talk too much!

The next label we will look at is…You’re Too Literal!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Labels and Stereotypes - There's a Party Over Here!

The last post, which continued our examination of workplace labels and stereotypes, dealt with the accusation against some Blacks that we are not team players. As promised, the next racist stereotype and label we will discuss is…

It Looks/Sounds like You’re Having a Party in Here

A Black person can be writing on a flip chart, sitting with handouts in their lap, have papers spread across the floor, and clearly be conversing about work, HOWEVER, if they are in a meeting with one or more other African Americans, someone White will inevitably say…

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

Apparently, if you’re in the office and you hear Black folks talking about budgets, conferences, proposals, reports, project specifics, work-related travel, etc., just go ahead and break out the latest CD by 50 Cent. ‘Cause the Negroes are fixin’ to party up in hiz-ere.

Conversely, when white workers are standing in the hallway or in someone’s office hootin’ and hollering about Desperate Housewives, Lost, Brad Pitt or some other celebrity…it’s all about business. It’s just teambuilding and the fostering of a collegial environment! Evidently, the longer Whites stand around chit-chatting and gossiping, the stronger the company becomes.

I’ll never forget being in a meeting, in my office (my nerve!), with an African American coworker. The door was open. My coworker was seated by the door. She was asking for my help on a budget for a conference. We were talking about what costs I would need, where she could track down the figures, what vendors could give her estimates, etc. She’d never had to pull together a budget before and I was walking her through the process.

I see a White coworker walking to my office door every 5 minutes and turning around with this pissed expression every time she saw this coworker still seated in my office. My meeting with this person lasted about 30 minutes. So, when it’s done, the White coworker comes back and asks me if I could keep my “personal conversations” relegated to my lunch hour because she was repeatedly trying to get my help.

Yes, she did.

If there was a caption over my head, it would have read, “Heifer, if you don’t get your butt up out of my office…” Instead, I simply informed my coworker that I was “discussing project work and I’m pretty sure you heard the conversation every time you came to my door.” What was her response?

“Oh, but you were laughing.”

So, I looked at her like she was crazy and asked what that meant. Her response?

“Well, it just seemed like you were having such a good time.”

So, I asked, “So, because I get along with my coworkers and my coworkers get along with me and we can work in a way that we have a pleasant and friendly environment, you think we’re having a personal conversation and aren’t doing work—even though you can hear the conversation?” She didn’t respond.

So, I asked “Well, what did you want?” And, she said, “It’s not important. I already had what I was looking for.” Yes, she did. After all that, and accusing me of having a good time, when I was actually working, which is a knock against my reputation, the “woman” found what she misplaced! Instead of being angry that she lost something in her own office, she wanted to pervert the issue into me being unavailable to help her and to use it as an opportunity to say that I was engaged in a long, non-work-related chit-chat/party.

This is the way the workplace game goes. This racist let her preconceived ideas dictate a false reality, which this same person later shared with my supervisor. I barely had much interaction with this person, but she just had to share, based on this one encounter, that I have too many chit-chats in my office. Of course, I was accused of being too conversational. “This is work.” “You need to focus.” All based on the word of one White woman making an accusation. I asked who else was accusing me of this behavior. Blank face…no response. I showed my supervisor the budget notes from the meeting…didn’t matter. A White woman had spoken and my supervisor had picked a side and she wasn’t going to change her mind.

This is a harsh reality for many Black workers. Congregating with other colored people will often bring all sorts of negative connotations that can hamper your career and impact your performance reviews.

The next label and stereotype we will examine is…

You’re “Unapproachable”


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!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Labels and Stereotypes Decoded - The Sequel!

At the conclusion of yesterday’s post (on labels and stereotypes in the workplace) we looked at the common criticism of Black employees that we are “angry and defensive.” As promised, today’s African American label and stereotype is…

You Can’t Take Constructive Criticism

When it comes to African Americans, there are so many cases when the issue has absolutely nothing to do with an ability or inability to take constructive criticism. Like being called angry and defensive, it is all about being able to legitimately apply a label that will easily convey that an African American has a bad attitude. The beauty of it is, accusing someone of not being able to take constructive criticism takes the race related edge off of personality-based comments. When you’re a solid employee and you’re accused of not being able to take criticism, there are so many other factors that may be at play:

· You spoke up to a White person – The easiest and most common way to get this can’t take criticism label is to speak up to a person who does not think you are in a position to demand to be treated respectfully, give input on assignments, make decisions, pass judgment or critique any aspect of the project you are working or to give constructive criticism to those you are working with. The person doesn’t appreciate your contribution to a conversation because you touched a sore spot that they have. While they may have been hypersensitive to your comments, you are the one who will actually get the label. Now, you will be considered to be a person who has extreme reactions to helpful advice and routine communication with other staff. You will be told that people feel they have to walk on egg-shells around you or perhaps that people don’t know how to approach you because of fear of how you will react. You will be painted with cartoon-like brush strokes as having a chip—or a Wild E Coyote-sized anvil—on your shoulder.

· Jealousy – you’re doing a good job and someone wants to knock you down a peg. Since they can’t trash your work, they’ll go after your personality. Painting an African American as unable to take criticism/being sensitive is an easily acceptable comment to make to management that will be remembered during the performance review period.

· Job Threat - you’re doing a good job and someone wants to knock you down a peg because you are perceived as a direct threat to their job. They don’t want you to start getting the same assignments they receive and they certainly don’t want you to have the same title and similar income. Out of competitiveness, they decide to play hardball with you and your reputation. They will take comments you make, blow them out of proportion, and ensure that you are stuck with labels that will haunt you.

· Fear – A person’s racially-based fears can easily morph into allegations of all sorts of negative behavior on a Black employee's part. Two women I had problems with at my last job, both White, are the same two women who were obvious racists. One person had issues working with other African American women—she even gave us all the same labels, but she’s put a different twist on them. She called me “angry and defensive,” another woman “moody,” and a third woman was “not nice” and “snooty.” She made sure to talk to all 3 of our supervisors or directors about our "bad attitudes." We each had to participate in a meeting, solely based on her word. We also heard her critiques at our yearly performance reviews.

The second racist on my job told me about how she came from a racist Mormon family. She assured me that she “wasn’t like that.” Yet, despite her protest, she always spelled and provided definitions for simple words as she spoke to me. And, she didn’t do this to anyone else in our department. Oh, that’s right. I was the only African American in the department, so she didn’t have a chance to be tutor to anyone else. Both of these women, whom I had to address about their negative behaviors, spoke to my supervisor with false allegations and labels. They, obviously, never shared their own offensive behaviors and stereotyping.

The problem with being labeled as unable to take constructive criticism is it’s hard to defend yourself, without making the label seem appropriate. Don’t forget, you can’t take constructive criticism so any attempt to explain a misperception or outright lie about your character will just reinforce the trap that’s been laid out for you. Racism is a trip, y'all!!

Tomorrow’s post will examine the label and stereotype…

You’re Not a Team Player!

Toshiba Computers
Blogarama - The Blog Directory <