This post is part of a series about white privilege, in which I discuss my views on the topic and how it affects our greater community. Click here to read the entire series.
Not long ago, I wrote a post about workplace discrimination and how white Americans get trapped in believing they are “equal opportunity employers”, when actually, they’re not. It’s something my husband has struggled with, time and again. It’s a barrier that most people of color continually battle, yet somehow, whites are clueless and completely unaware that discrimination is taking place. A fact that can be beyond frustrating for someone looking for work in today’s economy.
Families of color know that our members of the workforce are usually the first ones to have their hours cut, to be laid off, to be passed over for a promotion or dismissed from the application process. How do we know this? Because it happens time and again. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.
It happens because whites don’t trust people of color. It happens because they don’t have any loyalty to communities of color. It happens because they just don’t think it’s a big deal to give the job to someone who they know, someone in their circle or someone who looks like them. White people don’t think that’s discrimination. They just don’t.
In fact, this practice is so common, that if you told white Americans that this process of hiring is discriminatory, they would look at you completely baffled. Completely unaware. Now how do you fight against that? How do you argue with someone who doesn’t even know that what they’re doing perpetuates racism? That’s the hardest bit I think. It’s easy to call out a self-proclaimed racist, but how do you make people understand what they don’t even know is happening? What they won’t even acknowledge?
The whole mess is just frustrating and leaves you feeling emotionally drained afterward. Not to mention how personal and awkward discussions on race can become, but it has to be said.
This is what workplace discrimination looks like…
So today, I was listening to this show on NPR and I couldn’t help but feel some relief at the conversation. The story on income inequality and African American unemployment hit the nail on the head. I’m from Michigan, I lived their all my life until now, and it’s a state where the majority of black men are jobless, many homeless and the employment opportunities are clearly not equal.
As I listened to Dr. Nancy DiTomaso, the author of “The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism,” I was fascinated to hear her speak about her research project, where she discusses how white Americans participate in racism without their knowledge. In her research, she focuses on how whites function at an organizational level and how systems of inequality are formed by what seem like innocent decisions to most white folks. Very interesting. Dr. DiTomaso’s research will undoubtedly provide some interesting conversation and insights into the organizational environment in the workplace as it relates to diversity and equality. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book and have a look for myself.
You can listen to the podcast via the link below or read the full transcript. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting too.
What do you think of the discussion? Will you read Dr. Ditomaso’s book? Do you have any book recommendations on a related topic? I would love to hear what you have read or what interesting discussions you’ve had on this topic.