Ethnostratification

Oh my god I had no idea you were Black

“First job, call it out wherever you see it. Make racism visible.”

Dear The Good Men Project,

Thank you for this #RaceTalk, for framing a discussion around discovering race and its implications.

I am energized by your tagline (“The conversation no one else is having.”) and by this article “a white girl from Staten Island and a black guy from Brooklyn discuss and explore their awareness of  their own racial identities.”

 

Spoiler alert – As examples:

“We need laws that make racism essentially unprofitable, but that’s simply negative reinforcement. For those laws to really stick, we need for people to feel personally vested. Laws are the house. Culture makes it a home.”

“I was just raised to believe that if you were smart enough, good enough, talented enough, it would be enough. It’s a terrific lie that people of color tell their kids, and you wonder as an adult: why didn’t they let me know that I could be smart, hard-working, talented, ethical, and there would still be people who wouldn’t work with me, just because I was black?”

“when I worked on Wall St. I was one of maybe 5 black males in my building which housed a thousand people who wasn’t delivering mail or working the security desk”

“On being white— now I have to question the success I did enjoy. At the time I called myself lucky. I was lucky to get the job on Wall Street, I was lucky to be sent out to see clients, I was lucky to turn that job into a job in IT, as a technical writer… They may not have been paying me the same as my male colleagues but they were paying me a LOT of money.”

“I sent out 1,200 resumes, got around 60 calls back, went on two dozen interviews… But I remember instances where I had great phone interviews, yet was treated differently in person. One woman looked at me for the first time and exclaimed “Oh my god; I had no idea you were black.””

“So as I began to meet people who were living very differently from me in the same city and seeing the forces that worked against them and the forces that worked for me — I wanted to understand what this American history was that had been kept from me my whole life.”

“And then Alice went to first grade. And Justin became her best friend. And she learned about Martin Luther King in Kindergarten. And I had to explain to her that she wouldn’t have been allowed to play with Justin, only one generation ago, and worse, that his family might have been injured or killed for being black….”

“I would say being black is worse than being female in terms of disadvantages.”

“believing the lies you were raised with is easier than changing your worldview, and yourself.”

 

To CEOs, senior executives in corporate Brussels / Belgium, do you have the will to move the message of diversity and inclusion?

With everything happening and that has happened recently, some things are brewing underneath the surface in your teams. Embrace vulnerability about conversations on “race” and racism. Do you need help to facilitate this kind of conversation in your workplace?

 

“How old are you, what do you do for a living, where did you grow up, and when did you find out you were white / black?”

 

Fellows,

Each time, you read ‘America’ in this article “White Girl. Black Guy: The Good Men Project Conversations on Race“, change it to ‘Belgium’, ‘Brussels’, ‘Antwerp’, etc. and see how it works for you?

 

RaceTalk: How does race impact your workplace and workforce?

This article provides a blueprint if you feel like having this conversation in a professional setting. Enjoy 🙂 Please share how it goes!

 

“so I was taught to prize overcoming bias, triumph over adversity. They set me up for a life of compassion and a love for the underdog.”

 

Questions if you are ‘Black / Brown’:

  • “How old are you, what do you do for a living, where did you grow up, and when did you find out you were Black / Brown?
  • When and how did you become aware of the complexities of being Black / Brown, and did you interact with white people at all? For instance, did you have any white friends for example?
  • How did being Black / Brown (and being a wo.man) affect your job opportunities? And when did you become aware of this?
  • Any “interracial” dating? Any long-term relationship with anyone not Black / Brown?
  • Were you ever questioned or criticized for being with White or non-black / brown wo.men? By your friends or family members?
  • Why and how did you first learn about white folks? And how did this change your interaction with them?
  • Do you recognize sex, being the female sex, as a disadvantage?
  • No solution to racism? In your opinion and based on your experiences, what’s the pathway towards a more culturally aware society?

 

Questions if you are ‘White’:

  • “How old are you, what do you do for a living, where did you grow up, and when did you find out you were White?
  • When and how did you become aware of the complexities of being White, and did you interact with people of color at all? For instance, did you have any black and brown friends for example?
  • How did being White (and being a wo.man) affect your job opportunities? And when did you become aware of this?
  • Any “interracial” dating? Any long-term relationship with anyone not White?
  • Were you ever questioned or criticized for being with Black / Brown wo.men? By your friends or family members?
  • If your upbringing was pretty ‘mayonnaise’, if your first exposure to black / brown folks wasn’t until your adulthood, and you’ve basically had no real reason or motive to know or understand a culture different than yours. Why and how did you learn about folks of color? So why change? Why learn? Why grow?
  • And how did this change your interaction with and for them?
  • Do you recognize sex, being the female sex, as a disadvantage?
  • No solution to racism? In your opinion and based on your experiences, what’s the pathway towards a more culturally aware society?

 

This conversation seems to be uncomfortable to a lot of people.

“We live in a culture that for centuries has held a particular standard of beauty, culture, and intelligence’.

I am developing the capacity to get professionals, businesses to look for connection instead of difference alone.

 

“We’re all in this together.”

 

G.

The author

Grégory Luaba Déome

Contributing to more inclusive workplaces

Follow: Twitter @cvs_congo | Blogs: LinkedIn and Talent Has No Race

 

More from me on Ethnostratification and Talent Advancement:

People Analytics when the N is too small

Multiculturalism in Europe failed?

What makes a great team?

Delivering through diversity

The 6 main obstacles to the hiring of talents of non-EU origins in the Brussels job market

The third Socioeconomic Monitoring (Employment & Origin, 2017)

Corporate Belgium – Europe: Ethnicity = Law of Inverse Relevance?

Born in Congo, I am committed to developing more inclusive workplaces. My passion is to enable others to achieve their potential and to advance equity in corporate Brussels.

About eight years ago, a friend told me something like “in my company, they consider me as a high potential. I participated to the annual event of our industry, 500 people – la crème de la crème – and I was the only non-white in the room. A journalist even came to me and discreetly asked “what about upward mobility”? The problem is that in our industry, the majority of the workers at the bottom of the pyramid are non-whites. The higher you go in the hierarchy, the whiter it becomes.”

How to increase racial diversity at the top of corporate Brussels?

What is the diverse makeup or diversity demographics of your team overall? And of your management and board teams?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *