Category Archives: race in the workplace

Independent Bookstore Restricts Spanish Speaking Outside of “Dishwasher Area”

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

As if independent bookstores don’t already have enough to worry about, Fidel Martinez at Guanabee writes about a language controversy at Atticus Bookstore in New Haven:

Atticus Book Store and Cafe, located in New Haven, Connecticut, has caused a controversy over a recent policy decision to require all Hispanic employees to only speak English within a customer’s earshot.

The staff is allowed to speak Spanish, but only in restricted areas.

A document from the bookstore states:

Spanish is allowed in the prep area, the dishwasher area and the lower level. Let’s make our customers feel welcome and comfortable.

“Let’s make our customers feel welcome and comfortable”? Yeeeeouch. (And yes that stuff about “the dishwasher area” is plain unfortunate.)

I’m sure I’m not the only one on this site who feels happy, or even relieved, when I hear multiple languages being spoken in a space – even though I’m a filthy monolinguist myself.   Places where people are welcome to bring their culture with them, are places where I feel comfortable.  So you have to wonder just who Atticus is referring to, when they imagine customers who feel uncomfortable when they hear Spanish.

And despite when I might’ve been led to believe by The Great Gatsby, it doesn’t sound like New Haven is some enclave of pearl-grabbing ethnocultural anglo purists.  Martinez goes on to report:

This new directive has pissed off members of Yale University (Atticus is located next to Yale’s British Arts Center) and the New Haven Workers Association. The latter sent out an email to local community groups like the New Haven Labor Council and Unidad Latino En Accion protesting what they deem to be racism in the workplace.

Apparently though, Atticus is within their legal rights to demand its employees speak English.
Continue reading

And All The Blacks Are Men, Pt. 301283

by Guest Contributor Shani-O, originally published at PostBourgie

Much is being made of Michael Luo’s piece in yesterday’s New York Times which explains how simply being black often hurts job seekers:

Johnny R. Williams, 30, would appear to be an unlikely person to have to fret about the impact of race on his job search, with companies like JPMorgan Chase and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago on his résumé.

But after graduating from business school last year and not having much success garnering interviews, he decided to retool his résumé, scrubbing it of any details that might tip off his skin color. His membership, for instance, in the African-American business students association? Deleted.

“If they’re going to X me,” Mr. Williams said, “I’d like to at least get in the door first.”

Similarly, Barry Jabbar Sykes, 37, who has a degree in mathematics from Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta, now uses Barry J. Sykes in his continuing search for an information technology position, even though he has gone by Jabbar his whole life.

“Barry sounds like I could be from Ireland,” he said.

Though Luo is working under the rather shaky premise that recent progress for blacks, like Barack Obama’s election, was supposed to improve prospects for black job seekers, he notes the opposite attitude in his interviewees:

Many interviewed, however, wrestled with “pulling the race card,” groping between their cynicism and desire to avoid the stigma that blacks are too quick to claim victimhood. After all, many had gone to good schools and had accomplished résumés. Some had grown up in well-to-do settings, with parents who had raised them never to doubt how high they could climb. Moreover, there is President Obama, perhaps the ultimate embodiment of that belief. Continue reading

The Melting Pot 2009: Job Applicants Choose Assimilation as Means of Economic Survival

by Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

melting potWhen I hear the words Ellis Island, one of the first things I think of is not the New York point of interest or tiring travel across waters to reach the grand goal of the U.S. of A. and its related Dream. The first words that come to mind for me are “name changes” and “assimilation.” But with the recent economic crisis and the lagging recovery process, Ellis Island comes to mind. Only this time, instead of Eastern Europeans, Italians or the Irish knocking on the door of American opportunity, only to learn that their identities must be altered or ensconced, their traditional cultures erased for the sake of infinitely approaching some Nordic white ideal, the group scrambling for the promised land of economic security and job market acceptance is black.

That’s not to say that blacks in America have never sought assimilation as a means of achieving social acceptance and equality, in fact both during and following slavery, some black Americans employed various methods of mirroring the white majority as they recognized it could mean a chance at social and class mobility. Black immigrant groups arriving to America also faced a similar challenge. Having lived in countries where race-based terminology and categorization, media representation, and general opinion of blacks may have varied from those in the United States, only to arrive and gain an externally-defined identity based on perceptions of black Americans, black immigrants may also have felt or still feel the pressure to change or deny elements of their culture, nationality, ethnicity, and ultimately race.

In the aftermath of the recession, as the competition for the limited jobs that are available has sharpened, few applicants have room for error. Unfortunately for blacks living in the United States, one possible means of avoiding the potential disaster of not even getting a foot in the door at hiring companies is deleting any and all signs of their race. It is common knowledge that “ethnic sounding” names or, in other words, names that are not of Western European, particularly Anglo-Saxon origin, often lead to discriminatory hiring practices.* Even among these names, there are specific ethnic groups whose names are least welcome in the corporate world. Unfortunately, blacks are often the common victims of this discrimination, the bearers of African-American names, despite their qualifications, often being relegated to the bottom of the résumé stack. 

However, most of the fears of being rejected from job opportunities are spread through anecdotes or are the result of self-fulfilling prophecy based on a perception of inadequacy from simply being black (i.e. assuming the hiring party is white and would not be interested in taking on a black employee, thus not applying for the job at all), research often following as a result. Several studies comparing the successes (or lack thereof) of blacks and their white peers have been conducted (particularly as a means of measuring the success of affirmative action policy implementation and its continued need), though all ended with the same result: even with equal levels of educational and occupational experience, white candidates are more likely to be hired following the interview process than blacks. Continue reading

Latinos Under Siege? A Look At CNN’s Latino In America

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

cindy garcia1Soledad O’Brien says she wants Latino In America to “start a conversation.” Unfortunately for viewers, the series’ message seems to be, what? Woe is us? Abandon ship? What did Brown ever do to you?

Grounded in depressing case studies and missed questions, the series’ first installment was less “Latinos In America” and more like “Latinos For Lou Dobbs’ Audience.” Most of the people featured were not “changing” their communities – they were being victimized in or by them. They were pregnant, suicidal (or pregnant and suicidal), caught in an immigration raid, losing their cultural roots, facing an uphill job struggle or isolated in their churches. The premiere’s first profile, of Univision TV chef Lorena García, was the only one that focused on somebody doing something positive – in her case, building her own brand in spite of skepticism over her “accent.” Continue reading

What’s in a Name? Your Job!

by Guest Contributor Sobia, originally published at Muslim Lookout

CTV News recently reported on a BC based study in which it was found that Canadians with English names have a better chance of getting a job than do people with non-English, specifically Chinese, Pakistani, or Indian, names. CTV News reports

In fact, after sending out thousands of resumés, the study found those with an English name like Jill Wilson and John Martin received 40 per cent more interview callbacks than the identical resumés with names like Sana Khan or Lei Li.

“If employers are engaging in name-based discrimination, they may be contravening the Human Rights Act,” said the study’s author, Philip Oreopoulos, economics professor at the University of B.C. “They may also be missing out on hiring the best person for the job.”

The study also found that the only way the applicants could improve their chances of a callback was to state they had Canadian or British experience.

And before one thinks this may have something to do with acculturation or language issues some new immigrants may have, the study’s author suspects that even second and third generation immigrants are at a “significant disadvantage” if they have a Chinese, Indian or Pakistani name (great – I guess my Pakistani name is going to be trouble for me after all). However, not as much as their parents or grandparents may be. I guess, it’s all in the name. Continue reading

Silicon Valley’s Bamboo Ceiling

By Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Here’s an interesting article in the San Jose Mercury News that pokes some holes in the generally accepted notion of “success” among Asian Americans living and working in Silicon Valley: Despite their success, Asians not rising to heights of Silicon Valley’s corporate world.

asianssilicon

A survey of local executives reveals that while Asians make up more than a third of the work force at some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, they only represent about 6 percent of board members and about 10 percent of corporate officers of the Bay Area’s 25 largest companies.

According to a new study, among the 25 largest Bay Area companies by revenue, 12 had no Asian board members, and five had no Asian corporate officers. Despite the growing prominence of Asians at Silicon Valley tech companies, they’ve made no gains in the share of seats on the boards of large tech companies since 1999. What’s up with that?

It’s the dreaded Bamboo Ceiling, of course. You’d think that of all places, the Bay Area, where Asians are at least 23 percent of the work force at Silicon Valley companies like Cisco Systems, Intel, Sun Microsystems and eBay, we’d see more Asians at the upper levels of management. But it’s
the same old story!


Photo of Palo Alto employees Buck Gee and Wesley Hom from
the San Jose Mercury News

Asian American Employees Underreport Discrimination

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

My fellow Asian Americans, stand up for yourselves in the workplace! According to a new report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Asian American employees are underrepresented in the senior ranks of federal agencies, and likely are underreporting instances of discrimination on the job: Asian-American employees underreport discrimination, report finds.

The report, which was released earlier this month, says that Asian Americans face a number of misperceptions and stereotypes, factors that have become “the framework of barriers establishing glass or bamboo ceilings which present [Asian American and Pacific Islanders] from moving into the upper tiers of an organization.”

A 2005 Gallup poll found that 31 percent of Asian respondents said they had experienced discriminatory or unfair treatment on the job. But the EEOC noted in its report that enforcement actions reveal that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders file only 3.26 percent of discrimination.

Say what now? We already have enough problems with people thinking we as Asian are passive, good little citizens who do what we’re told. It does us no good to let people walk all over us. It’s one thing to be discriminated against — it’s another thing entirely to stay quiet about it. And we wonder why we’re so conspicuously absent from executive and senior management levels…