Guest post: 5 new rules for dealing with race at work

Here's a guest post from Carmen Van Kerckhove. I have learned so much about race from her blog, Racialicious, that I asked her to write five tips for dealing with race at work. She always surprises me and this is no exception.

Rule 1: Don’t be colorblind.
People say this all the time: “I don't care if people are black, brown, purple, or polka-dotted. I don't notice color!”

But that's a lie. All of us notice variations in physical appearance that cause us to draw conclusions as to what race a person is.

Then why do people insist on claiming that they don’t notice color? Often, it’s because they are scared to death of being labeled a racist.

But here’s the thing. Noticing a person’s race doesn’t make you racist. What does make you racist is if you make assumptions about that person’s intellectual, physical, or emotional characteristics based on the race you think the person is.

More importantly, when you proclaim that you’re colorblind, what you’re really implying is that race doesn’t matter in America. Race still matters because racism is alive and well. Pretending otherwise negates the everyday experiences of millions of people of color in this country.

Rule 2: Understand that diversity training is about protecting the company, not about educating you.
Diversity training rarely succeeds at reducing bias or increasing managerial diversity within organizations.

So why do companies continue to spend millions of dollars on it every single year?

Because they’re afraid of costly lawsuits.

If a company gets sued for racial discrimination, it can point to its diversity training program as a good faith effort to eliminate racial discrimination and hopefully win the lawsuit.

Ultimately for most companies, diversity training isn’t about nurturing diversity in the workplace. It’s about protecting the company.

Rule 3: When someone tells a racist joke, play dumb.
Figuring out how to react when a co-worker makes a racist joke is tricky. If you don’t call the person out on her racism, you seem to be condoning the behavior. But if you do say something, you risk alienating him and sabotaging your working relationship.

The best response to a racist joke should accomplish 3 things:

1) Communicate that you find this behavior unacceptable.
2) Demonstrate that the joke is racist.
3) Inflict as little damage as possible to your working relationship with the joker.

My recommendation? Play dumb.

Put on a bewildered expression, act as if you don’t understand the joke, and ask your co-worker to explain it to you. He will not be able to explain why the joke is funny without evoking a racist stereotype. You can then question the veracity of this stereotype, thus pointing out the racism of the joke, without being confrontational and without humiliating your co-worker.

Racist jokes rely on an unspoken, shared knowledge of racist stereotypes. Without the stereotypes, there is no humor.

Rule 4: Think twice before reporting racial discrimination to HR.
As difficult as it may be, your first step should almost always be to discuss your concerns directly with the person whom you believe is discriminating against you. Even if the conversation doesn’t resolve anything because they deny any wrongdoing, you will look good by having given them a chance to modify their behavior.

If you've addressed the issue directly but nothing has changed, go up the chain of command and talk to the person's boss. The supervisor will appreciate you keeping it “in the family,” and in most cases, is actually the one who has the power to fix the problem.

If the behavior continues even after speaking to the person's boss, go to HR, but consider asking for a transfer instead of filing a complaint so that you can extricate yourself from this hostile work environment. Your HR people may actually be grateful that you are suggesting such an easy solution instead of embroiling them in a long, drawn-out investigation.

You may be adamant about having the person disciplined for his discriminatory behavior. If that's the case, you should file an official complaint with your HR department, but be aware of the risks. No matter how confidential HR tries to keep this matter, word will spread. Be prepared to deal with backlash in the form of firing, demotion, or social ostracization.

Rule 5: Learn about racial stereotypes to advance your career.
People of your racial or ethnic group are stereotyped as good employees with a solid work ethic. That should bode well for your career, right?

Not necessarily. Even so-called “positive” racial stereotypes could spell trouble for you in the workplace.

Say, for example, you’re Asian-American, and your colleagues believe that all Asians are good at science and math. You could have a hard time moving into a client-facing position because your boss thinks you’d be better suited crunching numbers in a back office.

Professionals need a clear understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses if they want to take their careers to the next level. But if your boss believes a stereotype about your racial or ethnic group, that could contribute to a halo effect, where she feels that your performance is better than it really is. As a result, you won’t receive an accurate performance evaluation, and won’t know what you need to work on. In the long term, it will hinder your career prospects.

Carmen Van Kerckhove is author of the blog Racialicious and president of the diversity consulting firm New Demographic.

Posted in Diversity, No image
46 comments on “Guest post: 5 new rules for dealing with race at work
  1. Don B. says:

    Intriguing post I will copy and read again. Worked in Maine long time, most applicants of french, english, or german heritage. Enjoy very much the diversity of the larger cities when I am there. Like to just watch people. New York fun as the shoes sometimes say more about country of origin than anything. Will admit I have used the playing dumb on the joke issue with great effect. We no longer have anyone who tells such jokes which is a comfort.

  2. Shefaly says:

    For a person of colour, it is also worth remembering these tips:

    1. Yes, others see your colour. However if they make mistakes or dumb jokes, don’t rub their noses in it.

    If you are offended, talk to them in private – once. If you are very uppity, it will be your attitude that gets you down and not your race or any kind of racial discrimination.

    2. If you use racial stereotypes to advance your career expect that at some time, someone will call your game.

    People do not like those who get ahead on ‘diversity’ or ‘positive discrimination’ quotas. Even if you were the exception, if your ‘type’ gets ahead on that basis, expect to be sneered at and work harder to break that stereotype.

    I say this esp as I am told many times that as a non-white woman with a Cambridge PhD I will be very attractive to all the political parties in the UK and I do not choose to play that card. I may reconsider when a politician tells me that they love my experience and my skills, before they tell me how their race gets them all PC-ness-happy!

    3. Some people truly are ‘colour blind’ or at least do not care about colour as much as you think. Learn to appreciate it!

    Some of my current clients are old-fashioned, public school educated, white, British males who have lived in different parts of the Commonwealth including India, my country of birth. It gives me many common points to bond over and when they have questions, I answer them patiently and with facts and references.

    4. If you expect fairness, practise it too. Fairness truly is colour blind.

    When someone of colour calls white people ‘white trash’, tell them it is inappropriate just as you are ready to criticise a white person making an inappropriate reference to a coloured person.

    Good post but it takes two to tango.

    • WmRios says:

      Thank you all the more, Shefaly, for your wisdom.
      I am truly learning from all commentaries.

      “….when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

  3. Alice Bachini-Smith says:

    I think there is real colour blindness and there is self-appointed “colour blindness”, the avoidance strategy. The former is genuine and refreshing, but it doesn’t denote cultural understanding, so if you are bugged that people don’t know more about your religion or background, colour blindness doesn’t go far enough.

  4. Dave says:

    I also want to disagree with the remarks about color blindness. Do I notice a person’s skin color? Of course, I’d have to be blind not to. The important question is, do I make decisions based on that skin color? If I don’t, then it is just a characterstic of that person, no more, and I can use it to distinguish that person. “You want to talk to Fred, he’s the one in the blue shirt”, or “…he’s the tall one”, or “…he’s the black guy” are all equally good identifiers. Admittedly, I wouldn’t use the last one most of the time, mostly because of the racial nuances, but I think that’s a reflection more on society than on me. If I’m trying to differentiate him from 10 tall guys in blue shirts, maybe that’s the most obvious descriptor to use.

  5. Caitlin says:

    This is an excellent post. I think it’s possibly the first guest post on Brazen Careerist that I’ve found worthwhile.

    I particularly like the advice on how to deal with racist jokes.

    I would not claim to be completely colour blind – obviously I do notice the way people look, and skin colour is part of that. I don’t believe I’m racist and like Carmen I believe the two things are different. However, I would point out that people notice different things depending on their background and that’s shaped both by the diversity you’ve been exposed to and what your culture has deemed as an important difference.

    I’m Australian so I probably notice different things to most Americans – for example, the difference between a Thai person and a Singaporean is completely obvious to me, but it might not be to you. By contrast, since Australia does not have a large Jewish population, 90% of the time I don’t have a clue if someone is Jewish.

    Similarly, I did not have a clue that Barack Obama was black until the media explicitly pointed it out and started talking about race issues. He’s very light-skinned! This might sound ridiculous to most Americans, but I assure you it’s true.

    I have lived in London for over four years and here in the UK one of the big prejudices is against “gingers” or people with ginger hair. I’m completely mystified by this but can only guess it might be some hangover of anti-Irish prejudice. Also, most people who grew up here could instantly recognise a Romany Gypsy, but it took me an awfully long time.

    On a side note, when Sammy L Jackson was in Sydney for the filming of The Matrix, he claimed that Australia was a racist place on the basis that when he walked down the street, he was often the only black person. Comments like that make me so mad! The reason there are not many black people in Australia is not because of racism; it’s because we never had slavery. (We have our own indigenous population of course but it’s a small percentage, comparable to the indigenous populations in North America). He was obviously feeling strange about looking different to everyone else and he projected that feeling on to everyone else to make assumptions about what they were thinking and feeling, which is obviously quite unfair and really a form of racism in itself.

  6. JoyZ says:

    This post was accurate as far as I can tell and totally useful, both for a reminder and for a plan to handle certain realities.

    I’ve found myself wondering when feedback I am given is tinged by racial (or gender) stereotypes. When given feedback like this, I am now quick to point out *my reasons* why I do not speak up or am working in a certain field or &c. to make sure that I am not being perceived solely under the glass of stereotype and to create a dialog for future feedback regardless.

    After all, if people stop giving you negative feedback, it means they’ve given up on you. I’d rather be invested in.

  7. Joselle Palacios says:

    I’m a huge, huge fan of Racialicious and first heard about Race in the Workplace on Brazen Careerist so this thrills me.

    “Race still matters because racism is alive and well.” This bears repeating many, many times. I think one of the most racist ideas is the idea that we live in a less racist world. Not at all true.

  8. Shefaly says:

    Penelope:

    Esp the comment by Joselle above makes one wonder about the promise and the ‘reality’ of a possible President Obama presiding over a post-racial America! :-)

  9. Chris says:

    “when you proclaim that you’re colorblind, what you’re really implying is that race doesn’t matter in America”

    No, you’re saying “race doesn’t matter to me.” Nothing more.

    Of course, people who make their careers off of racial friction (or worse) don’t like any suggestion that there are white people who don’t give a crap about race.

    I agree with your statement that sensitivity classes are about the company. All our class did was teach us lots of new words to call each other :)

  10. Joselle Palacios says:

    @Chris: “There are white people who don’t give a crap about race.”

    Well, white people have a race, too. Race is not just something that belongs to “others.” Secondly, just because one claims to not “care about” race, (and you’ll have to explain what that even means since that sounds like saying, “I don’t care about oxygen.”) doesn’t make anyone else’s experience with race and racism disappear. By saying you just don’t care, you could be dismissive of or insensitve to a coworker who has a different experience than you do.

  11. Jessica Bond says:

    Interesting perspective but I am not sure what to make of it. In the end (at least for me), he or she who does a great job wins. Period.

  12. Beth says:

    Wonderful advice.

    I have found that stereotypes are the hardest things to overcome as a black female professional (a lawyer). The fact that I work really hard notwithstanding, I can tell the people view me a certain way because I am a woman and because I am black. But I think that there are some battles you just can’t win.

    A lot of the diversity emphasis for a company is related to law suits. Often, companies don’t concentrate on diversity until they are sued, and even then it is often obvious by the programs that they just don’t understand. In law, the big force behind diversity is clients with general counsel who are female or minority, and want the lawyers they work with to look like them. Without such pressures, people are most comfortable with people who look like them.

    Colorblind is problematic; what we really need is a workplace where race/gender/sexuality is neutralized. It isn’t that you don’t notice; it is that you are willing to give the person the same opportunities that you give other people. If a place remains charged with un-checked stereotypes no one with any competency is going to stay.

  13. Beth says:

    Caitlin:

    I have been to Australia and I did find that a lot of the people were, well, rather close minded. I also didn’t see any people of color in any of the cities. We did, however, travel from the coast and met with a very nice Aboriginal guide.

    I must admit, I shared Samuel Jackson’s sentiments during my visit. I had a very negative and heated discussion with someone at the courthouse in Canberra (a professor nonetheless) about Aborigines in Australia. He told me that it is their fault that there aren’t any at the national medical school.

    Also, Samuel may have felt the way that he did if he visited the museum dedicated to the treatment of Aborigines/Aborigine children. I don’t know about him, but before my visit, I saw Rabbit Proof Fence. The museum is a very traumatic place, much like the American Holocaust museum was for me (though I am in no way trying to equate the two). I only hope that he did not speak to the same guide I spoke to, who announced proudly that this really wasn’t that bad, because of what the Americans did to their native people.

    I don’t think that this makes an entire country racist. But it would color one’s views. I was in Australia for a month. All this happened in the first week. I could go on, but I will spare you the rest.

  14. rainie says:

    I’m very fortunate to work in a very diverse workplace and our clients are equally diverse (I work for a social services agency). I think to be color blind is to miss out on our rich cultural differences. It is enlightening and intriguing to learn how different races, religions, and just different families celebrate, grieve, raise their children, etc. It is our differences that make us interesting; it is our sameness that bounds us together.

  15. Chris says:

    @Joselie

    Let’s use an analogy. I don’t care about eye color. Yes, I have eyes, and they have color. Everyone around me has eyes of various colors. If pressed, I could probably tell you what color everyone’s eyes are.

    But I don’t care what color people’s eyes are, I do not make decisions or judgments about people based on their eye color, and I do not put up with people who do.

    I am aware of the fact that some people have made eye color an issue in the past, but I do not and am not about to treat anybody differently simply because other people have treated them differently in the past.

    With me you have a clean slate. Perhaps you don’t want a clean slate; perhaps you want me to remember what people who look like me have done to people who look like you — or even you.

    Tough.

  16. Rachel - I Hate HR says:

    Working in HR I can tell you that race (as well as other protected classes) does not go unnoticed. When HR gets ready to fire an African-American there is much more dotting of the t’s and crossing of the i’s than firing or disciplining a white person. Sadly race to HR means a potential lawsuit.

  17. Dale says:

    Penny,

    Tribalism is a strong characteristic of humans. And stereotyping arises from being part of a tribe and categorizing others into tribes based on your tribal paradigm.

    My being foreign, black, a practising christian, with a graduate degree, a very large family, a wife who’s a medical professional, and at the same time our being poor as dirt really confuses people. Most people presume that I am on “their side” or part of their tribe, on just about every issue society deems important. And, as a result, I hear the “politically incorrect” views of others from all tribes.

    I am convinced that we have a long way to go, but I am also very hopeful, because I see that almost everything negative we hear is the result of fear or ignorance.

    The fires of fear (of the other tribes) are fanned by leaders for political or other reasons, divide and conquer always works and is always unforgivable. But more often, the fear I see is fanned by ignorance, with many of us apeing the lessons we heard in our youth. What I hear most often falls into this category.

    Additionally, some take unfortunate experiences and extend the characteristics of a few perpetrators to the many. This too is a regretable but a human trait – remember, tribalism survives on the perceived moral, physical, intellectual… superiority of one clique and the inferiority of the others.

    Today most racism is covert and hidden, as Joselle Palacios said above. Alot of the “hate” is underground. It is no longer fashionable to espouse it aloud unless online or via public radio.

    Public opinion polls be damned the vocal tribe does not predominate in this society and I fear that what ever happens in society today is unpredictable because of it!

    Attitudes only change when opinions change. But opinions do not change easily, and certainly not without dialogue or self education. The vocal tribe will discuss its views, but the silent tribe won’t, and so I fear that there will be slow progress in race relations, even with a black candidate.

    I personally do not believe that Obama will win the election. I think that he is the person for the job, but I think everyone underestimates the size of the silent tribe – and this is really disheartening to me.

    My 2centsworth

  18. Shefaly says:

    @ Rachel- I hate HR

    “Sadly race to HR means a potential lawsuit.”

    Wow! That is an interesting observation (I imagine it is your observation).

    Does this not indicate that white people believe that people of colour are more likely to ’cause trouble’ if fired? And if that is the belief, isn’t it driven by the belief that somehow people of colour are more conscious of ‘race’ issues and race-based discrimination than white people? If so, why might that be? Could it be that it really happens more, or that people of colour know that their chances of finding another job is likely to be a steeper, uphill climb than it might be for white people? Why in your view does this happen? (I assume you work in HR).

    I am partly amused, not surprised, and really curious. Thanks for taking time to answer my questions.

  19. Milena Thomas says:

    I disagree a bit with Rule 3. I’m terrible at hiding my feelings, so I doubt I’d be able to play dumb. While I’m sure my disapproval registers, I just stay silent and walk away if I can. (Because it does happen.)

    If someone wanted to fire me over that, I’m guessing there would be other things we didn’t mesh on and I wouldn’t be too concerned about advancing at that department/company anyways.

  20. Eric says:

    While I agree with points 1-3 and 5 I have some serious issues with point 4. Going to the person you feel is discriminating against you does sound good without going through HR, if the discrimination continues I can understand wanting to get out of the situation without causing problems. In some sense though, it’s selfish. If you don’t say something and make an issue of this, others will go through the same experiences. This doesn’t mean demanding punishment but it means standing up for yourself and others in the same situation.

  21. DBinSD says:

    Couple of things. First, I don’t know how accurate this “Sammy L Jackson in Australia” story can possibly be, since he wasn’t *in* the Matrix. There were several black guys in it – he wasn’t one of them.

    Second, I’m pretty stunned at the advice given in item 4. HR’s purpose in your company is to professionally deal with situations like the one mentioned – harassment, hostile work environments, etc. If someone is being a racist asshole to you, and you can’t fix it either by addressing it yourself, or by addressing it with that person’s immediate supervisor, then asking HR to transfer you out of your job or section into another one, just to make HR’s life easier is…probably the dumbest advice I’ve heard about race relations in a company in 20 years. I can’t even imagine a woman being told, “Honey, I know he tried to proposition you for sex, but rather than having us overworked folks here in HR conduct a harassment investigation, why don’t you be a dear and just transfer to a different department, hmm?” What a load of garbage.

    If you have a problem with a racist colleague, take it to HR. Have them fix it. It’s what they are there for. They aren’t there just to process your transfer papers so they can avoid getting their hands dirty. Besides, you’re just leaving the problem for another employee to deal with another day.

  22. Albert says:

    I didn’t know this was such a big issue. Racist jokes are always made in my work place and we just shrug it off or have our own comebacks.

  23. FP Santangelo says:

    “Put on a bewildered expression, act as if you don’t understand the joke, and ask your co-worker to explain it to you. *He* will not be able to explain why the joke is funny without evoking a racist stereotype.”

    Why does it have to be he, hmmm? 8 of the 10 most offensive things I’ve ever heard were said by women (well, A woman, anyways…)

  24. William says:

    Interesting post.

    One thing I feel that needs to be clarified.

    First . . . There’s no such a thing called “color-blindess”, unless you’re referring to it as a medical term, such as deuteranopia (or Daltonism). Everybody sees in color, and yes. . everybody does make a prior assumption on folks they meet based on their color. It’s called profiling, without it, humans would cease to be “humans”.

    Secondly. . . Everybody is a racist. Now, is it necessarily an evil thing? No, it’s just a human condition that we use our empirical/learned experience, whether its justified or not,to make judgement of another person based on their color. If we stop denying the fact that we’re all racists, the easier it’ll be for us to understand and CONTROL the level of impact that our racism brings to the table.

  25. Jeff Nichols says:

    I disagree with the “play dumb” response. Use of racist humor and language can carry huge professional consequences; by playing dumb and asking for an explanation, you run the risk of potentially appearing to be participating in this type of humor to a third party listening in to the exchange.

  26. Danny says:

    As a Director in an international company, I have had to deal with this topic a great deal. I would just like to say “Great Post” Carmen. You have just earned a new reader. I can’t wait to read on your blog site.

    Danny

  27. Caitlin says:

    @Beth I’m surprised that you found Australia close-minded on the issue of race. I’ve travelled extensively in the US and Europe and worked in both and would honestly argue that Australia compares very favourably. I’m also not sure what you mean by “persons of colour” and if you are just referring to people with dark skins or anyone who is not white. Australia does not have a large black population for the reasons I gave above (no slavery and a small indigenous population) but it does have an enormous Asian population. If you were exclusively in rural areas then it’s pretty white but if you were in the big cities like Sydney and Melbourne (and I don’t mean Canberra which is virtually just the seat of government) it’s extremely multicultural – just not black.

    Yes, there are certainly a lot of social problems (eg. health problems such as alcoholism, lower average levels of education and so on) with the Australian Aborigines, as there are with indigenous populations in many parts of the world including North America. They are very much an under-privileged section of society and while I don’t blame them for that because I’m aware of historical causes, I guess some people see it differently. I don’t excuse or condone that for a moment – but both the current situation and the history are entirely different to the race issues with black people in the US. Indigenous Australians (Aborigines and Torrest Strait Islanders) are also only 2.6% of the population so you wouldn’t expect huge visibility, but they’re certainly not hidden.

    @DBinSD I was pretty sure it was Sammy L. Jackson but it’s possible I got that wrong – it was several years ago now and I didn’t look up the original reference before posting my comment. It’s also possible it was Sammy L Jackson but a different movie – lots of American films are filmed in Sydney. I’ll try to check the reference and report back if I can.

  28. Caitlin says:

    I hope Penelope will permit me a short third comment to share this link. I’m embarrassed to admit I had the wrong actor. I’ll go and hide now.
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/04/1051987601694.html

  29. Jessica says:

    about Rachel in HR’s comment “Sadly race to HR means a potential lawsuit.”

    I don’t think she meant to say that people of color are more likely to cause trouble when being fired I think she was simply stating a fact that when you fire a minority in the work place (whether race minority, gender minority, sexual preference minority) they have another “case” they can make for their firing besides being a poor worker. If you are a white male in an office of 99% females (of the same race or different) and you get fired, and you believe(correctly or not) this firing is not deserved, that you could pull your gender card and say, “I’m being fired b/c I have the only penis in the office!” People in the minority always can use their minority status to question the firirings/demotions that take place in offices… write or wrong it’s a game of odds.

  30. Rachel - I Hate HR says:

    @Shefaly I tried to address some of your questions in my latest blog post. http://ihatehr.com/2008/10/06/protected-classes-scare-hr/

  31. matty says:

    Sadly, this post is completely giving in to the racist mindset. The concept of race is itself racist, and thinking that way is giving in to those who want to label us and those who want to label themselves.

    David Weinberger relates the story of a resident of South Africa whose official race changed four times during his life, as the laws of apartheid changed the definition of black and white. These changes forced him end his marriage as it became illegal when his changed. If you call yourself a “black person” or a “white person”, you are using the same logical framework, if not the same consequences.

    How can Asian be a race? It seems incredibly racist to label Asians as one race in the US. Are people from Lebanon, China, and India related somehow? It’s a useless label. As Tom Peters says- never say the word “Asian” again. It only makes you look stupid.

    Tell a child that he or she belongs to a particular race or religion is one of the biggest lies that you can force upon them. I don’t know what label to thrust upon my children. I reject all of them, and all of you who would call them mixed-race or other euphemisms for miscegenation.

    Let’s strike down any mention of race- positive or negative. It’s all bad. I am not pretending that it doesn’t exist, as the incredibly offensive Rule 1 above suggests. I am just suggesting that anyone who attempts to use those classifications for any purpose should be stopped. Race is racist.

  32. Shefaly says:

    @ Rachel – I hate HR:

    Thanks for the link to your post. I read it and it just confirms the prejudice that many people of colour seem to expect at their workplace.

    That HR ‘is scared of protected classes’ (lets even not go into the semantics there) is one thing.

    But that HR assumes that somehow, by virtue of having an option to sue, all ‘protected classes’ somehow suspend their judgement and self-appraisal capabilities*, is an altogether more damning thing.

    * By saying that somehow a black woman or a pregnant woman has the option to remain angry because she can sue and _may_ sue, this is what is implied. So somehow a white man can accept his ‘low performance’ as a reason for being fired, but a black woman or a pregnant woman can’t!

    It does illustrate that companies are more cautious because they are more conscious of race as an issue. Being black/ white/ yellow/ green is not a choice, being pregnant is. Different things so to lump them together is a bit intellectually louche.

    Somehow I do find it hard to believe that the job of ‘protecting the company’ falls on HR. I say ‘hard to believe’ but in fact I am laughing so hard I can barely type. Sorry if you are offended. It wasn’t my intent.

  33. Resume Writer says:

    Interesting post. I am an African American but work in an online medium. People do not know I am African American until I speak with them on the phone. It doesn’t seem to make any difference with my clients, but I guess what I don’t know is how many clients I may have lost after speaking with them.

    The majority of my academic and employment careers have been in predominantly African American environments. There was a stint where I audited for a nationwide title insurance company and one could feel the tension in the air while there. But I don’t think it was anything other than unfamiliarity. You can never fault others for lack of exposure to those of other ethnic groups. As mentioned in the post, it’s when assumptions are made based upon the ethnic group where you start to get into hot water.

  34. Bill says:

    These is actually great advice. It is unfortunate but race impacts the workplace. It is true that most problems start occurring when assumptions are being made based on ethnic background.

  35. Travell says:

    If you work in New York City, race in general isn’t a big issue. Since everybody is so mixed, most employers are use to hiring and dealing with races besides themselves. I don’t know about areas outside of NYC but that is how it is here in the big apple.

  36. Takis mpalaskas says:

    Races is not a big issue in todays world .. but what you have posted here helps lot of people like me!! I have seen this going down and dirty so better get ready for it!

  37. Tim says:

    From my experience I have concluded that so called “Diversity” in the workplace is the cryptic code word for institutional racism. By that I mean minorities, with the main focus on blacks and hispanics, are given a special status and recognition over whites. The sad thing is that any so called diversity program, by it very nature and intent, is racist and discriminates against white people.
    Everyone should only be evaluated by the content of their character, education, experience, and past legal transgressions (arrests and convictions).

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  42. Sue Phoenix says:

    Samuel Jackson was not in the Matrix. The black actor in the Matrix was Laurence Fishburne.

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  44. HRMaven says:

    This is insanely horrible advice. Play dumb when hearing a racist joke? Don’t report racism? This sounds like the advice of a corporate toadie. Someone violates your rights to a hostile-free workplace you report their ass to HR in a heartbeat. If you don’t you are condoning their behavior.

  45. Oscar Romero says:

    I work for the Federal Public Service in Canada and am astounded by the inappropriate and discriminatory comments made by fellow co-workers. The thing that stumps me the most is that the comments are being made by first generation immigrants. For example, one of my co-workers immigrated to Canada due to political unrest in her country of origin and couldn’t speak a word of English when she arrived in Canada, and her parents have limited knowledge of English and she communicates with them in her native language. However, this individual has the audacity to mock clients from specific ethnic groups for their limited knowledge of English and for having an accent. Another one of my colleagues who is married to an immigrant does the same thing. The hypocracy boggles my mind.

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