A guide for Black professionals experiencing racism in the workplace
RACISM: A guide for Black professionals
RACISM: A guide for Black professionals experiencing racism is a book for Black professionals experiencing racism in their workplace. The guide includes a set of strategies and exercises that can be useful when confronted with racism in various settings. A poor response to racism could be detrimental to the change we are trying to bring about in this world and our communities. In the workspace, our response to behaviors and practices that are racist is essential. Our thoughts and expectations about the people in the workplace are also important. Continuing to be effective in our crafts requires us to maintain internal awareness and honesty on an ongoing basis.
Know that the things we hear about and may never have experienced is trauma. This makes it difficult to identify actual racist activities. You are not experiencing racism every time you are triggered. If you are unaware and unable to differentiate between a racist attack and being triggered, everyone will always seem to have bad intentions.
A true identification of where you stand. One of the common mistakes that we make as Black people is that we look in the mirror and see an underprivileged Black person, but we fail to recognize areas in our lives where we are privileged. Identifying where you are truly situated is essential to being free. When you look in the mirror, acknowledge your success.
As a Black person, remind yourself that you are not to blame for someone’s racist ideology and sometimes the people who hold those ideologies are misinformed. Remove the blame from the person and remain focused on the systems that reinforce the ideology.
Exercise grace. It has been established that racism exists. We need not get stuck on this unavoidable fact. The process will continue to unfold. Exercising grace is key to being present in the moment fully. Exercising grace requires: Communicating in common language; Meeting people where they are; Accepting where they are; Allowing people to arrive at a place of change on their own, while respecting their process; and Give people time to adjust.
Stay focused. Immigrants of color who come to this country and work despite language barriers and a full understanding of American culture embody this strategy. Their focus remains on positive outcomes and they’ve accepted the fact that their ego does not have a place in their work environment. What aspects of an environment are integral to you being able to navigate it in a manner where you can carry out your role and maintain your sanity?
You are a threat to the establishment. The mere fact that you are in a position of power will bring about fear related to the danger that you bring given the change that your existence represents. Your intelligence makes you dangerous.
Just because a person does not want to change does not mean that they ascribe to racist beliefs. There will be people that do not want to change, nor commit to the process that you may suggest or bring forth because they truly have done a thorough analysis and drawn a conclusion different than yours.
Make sure that your expectations are proper before you enter an environment daily. You won’t bring about change in 48 hours. It takes time and grace and it is imperative that you exercise both. Remind yourself that you are an agent of long-term change.
Take into consideration the learning curves of people who have never been taught how to interact, respect, and work with a person of color. Always acknowledge the effort. For example, you must understand that you will hear the same questions and responses in route to the change you are seeking more than you would like to hear. That is a part of the process. Your existence is bigger than an interaction with a group of people in a space. If you are not one who exercises grace you are not in the business of effecting lasting change.
Not all people care, and you need not waste your time on them. That is not your audience. Know your audience and cater to your audience. Your audience consists of the people who want to see change happen but may not have the space or be confident enough to speak about it.