by Carmen Van Kerckhove
I’ve got another how-to post up on Race in the Workplace, New Demographic’s blog about how race and racism influence our working lives. This one is about what you should do if you’re experiencing racial discrimination at your job.
Think twice before reporting racial discrimination to your company’s human resources department. Why? Because it’s not always the most effective strategy.
Read on for a step-by-step guide on what to do if you believe your supervisor is discriminating against you because of your race.
(Of course, I am not a lawyer so please do not take this opinion as professional legal advice.)
1. Ask Yourself If It’s Truly Racial Discrimination
All people of color have an internal racism radar. For some, it’s turned all the way up so that they see racial conspiracy around every corner. For others, it’s turned all the way down so that they are in denial about how racism affects their lives. For most of us, it’s somewhere in-between.
Before you take any action, ask yourself if you are sure that you’re being discriminated against because of your race. Does your supervisor treat other people of your racial or ethnic group poorly too? Or does she only pick on you? Could there be other reasons you’re being passed over for raises or promotions? Are your colleagues better situated in terms of performance, education, experience, or skills? Are they better at cultivating relationships with the boss or making their accomplishments known? Is it a personality issue? Could it be that you’re just not well-liked by your coworkers?
You don’t want to be known as the little boy who cried wolf. So be brutally honest with yourself and face your flaws. If after this thorough self-analysis you still believe that you’re experiencing racial discrimination, then you should take action.
2. Document Everything In Detail
You want to be able to prove a pattern of discriminatory behavior, so start a log to document the evidence. You should try to collect two types of items: evidence of racial prejudice on the part of your supervisor, and evidence of discrimination against you. For each item, be sure to include the date, time, a description of what occurred, and who else was around to witness the behavior…