Hi folx, this question came into my inbox recently: what strategies do you as a Black or Global Majority person use to survive racism, discrimination, biases and microaggressions in white majority workspaces while keeping both your job and your sanity? Feel free to weigh in.
Looking the other way. Except it didn't, ultimately, help me keep my job. And I may be further pulled up for not doing my job by looking the other way. And the cycle continues.
Things were actually easier for me back in the late 80's and through the 90's. The systemic racism was always there, like cockroaches in the walls. They didn't really come out until September 12, 2001.
Since I worked for the city, we had EEOC and a Union to help us fight the most egregious cases. For everything else, we had my big mouth and no-nonsense attitude. :) (That actually worked, because I picked my battles and had data to back up our accounts.)
Once my racist supervisors realized that they couldn't get me to cower like some of my less bold brothers and sisters, they took their nonsense elsewhere--and, those meek members benefited, thankfully.
My point is that not all of us have the will to stand up to microaggressions. Some folks muttered under their breaths, commiserated with each other and sought petty ways to fight back (work slow-downs, sickouts, etc.) not realizing how they were only hurting themselves.
I always tried to tell my colleagues, Black and white, that they can defend themselves as long as they remain professional about. Don't give your supervisors any ammunition. Do the work and they have no grounds for their outrageous insinuations.
This is a good one. As a Canadian South Asian woman who worked in fields like tech and construction, most of my time was spent in white majority workspaces. A lot of my strategies were developed later on in my career, as I will admit that I spent the first part of it suffering in silence, not sure what kind of pushback would be "tolerated" or "allowed". And honestly, sometimes the actions I might take to keep my sanity (eg. pushback and confront the comments/attitudes/people directly) might work against me keeping my job. Conversely, keeping my job many times meant not directly addressing occasions where I had been wronged, which ended up impacting my well being. Keeping both my job and my sanity oft times felt like mutually exclusive goals.
In the end, the biggest thing that helped was finding community. Within your own workplace ideally, but if the community is not there to begin with (as was the case with me for much of the beginning of my career), then I would find community in external groups.
Once I was able to share stories with other marginalized colleagues - some of whom I shared intersecting identities with and others that I didn't - it went a long way toward making me feel less isolated. I didn't question myself as much or wonder whether I was just "overreacting" or "being too sensitive or emotional" as I had been told on many an occasion by my white bosses.
So find your community, and share with them what you're going through. Even if you are not in a position to speak up directly at work, keeping these feelings bottled up inside really starts to wear you down after a while and the validation you will get from your community makes it easier to go in and work another day.
In the past I did not survive because I accepted jobs while in a state of great neediness and unawareness of the awaiting hazards. Looking back I would have taken my time in searching. I was most happy and productive in posts where there was one white woman; she was the boss. In both cases the boss was encouraging and promoted my work to her supervisors. I had the same experience when I worked with one white male.