5 WAYS TO SURVIVE RACIAL HARASSMENT IN THE
A Social and Emotional Guide
Long ago, there was a time when I actually wanted to get up and go to work. I was elated and had big visions of what path I wanted my career to take. Now that I am concluding my first year as a young professional, I am realizing that this path will be a bumpy and emotionally taxing one.
Two words. Racial harassment.
My year in the workforce has taught me that racism and racial harassment at work is REAL.
I mean...I should have known this fact beforehand but my experience completely surprised me. What baffled me the most was the fact that racial harassment is more passive and covert than I thought. Millions of men and women – not just me - loathe going to work everyday because our office space is a vexing battle zone. We are afraid to trust anyone, emotionally abased, falsely accused of wrongdoing, often demeaned and systematically isolated. In any other case, what I just described would be classified as psychological terror in the workplace. However, psychological terror quickly transitions into racial harassment when ONLY a CERTAIN person and/or group are the victims.
Some examples of racial harassment that I’ve seen firsthand are:
Racially charged jokes, hurtful comments and/or innuendos
Stereotyping the victim with subordinate tasks
Purposefully hindering the victim’s chances for a promotion
Trying to fire or firing a certain group because of their color, culture, physical attributes and etc.
Since I am African American, I think it is important for me to share how I find ways to survive in environments that are less accepting. In many ways, I feel like it is my duty. So…Without further ado, here are 5 ways you can survive harassment and protect yourself in the process.
You may be a superstar at your company but trials and tribulations will find the best of us eventually. Your boss can not fire you because of your race/ethnicity “LEGALLY” but they can FIND something superfluous in order to fire or reprimand you. I highly recommend that you protect yourself from people who are looking for you to slip up. Cover you own a$$ by documenting everything and taking notes.
Life Hacker says, “All your notes should be dated. Date the top of each page and when someone makes an important statement, put a time next to it when you write it down. Dates and times become difficult to argue against when one person says one thing and you say another.”
In addition to note taking, I keep a personal email address through Google’s web-based email service. I forward all emails to my personal address when something controversial arises. Doing this will ensure that all my emails are saved in case I need them. Make sure you read your company’s policy with respect to work conduct and procedure. You do not want to put yourself in an illegal position. In other words, become chummy with the Code of Conduct booklet. Keep in mind that rules and violations change yearly.
Signs of modern day racial harassment are covert and hard to prove to inside and outside parties. If you have hard evidence, however, report it. This is crucial because your company cannot be legally responsible if they do not know about the harassment. You should tell your HR department and any other person who has the power to stop the racial harassment you are experiencing. Notify all applicable parties in writing and keep a copy for your records. In your compliant you should describe the problem and provide a resolution on how it should be handled.
REMINDER: Even though the HR Department may assist in your situation, their primarily focus is to facilitate the company’s compliance with EEOC laws and to mitigate all risk from any violations of those laws. In other words, ultimately they will protect the “company” from any infractions from misconduct.
3. Make a Coalition
Make friends at work! This will keep you sane. There are others who are suffering just like you. Find co-workers who are experiencing harassment too and talk about how to find reconciliation. A good shoulder to cry on will give you immense comfort.
4. Find Allies
There are people who are not racist. Shocker!!!! Find allies who understand your cause and will not tolerate racial harassment. You may need them to be a witness later on.
5. Look for Other Opportunities
If you have people trying to get rid of you, do not put yourself in a S.O.L. position. Look for other job opportunities in the meantime. This can be within the company or outside of it. Having a back-up plan will come in handy if something “goes down.” Like I said earlier, you MUST CYA – cover your own a$$.
Until Next Time,
“Your life is happening now. Make it amazing!”