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HuffPost: What Not To Say To Your Black Colleagues Right Now

02 Jun 2020
Don't focus on your own feelings or make assumptions when offering support to Black colleagues amid police brutality protests.

Originally found at Huffington Post, by Monica Torres

Nationwide demonstrations have been taking place across the U.S. this past week to protest the injustice of yet another Black person killed by police.

George Floyd died after three Minneapolis police officers pinned him down, with one of them pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck and ignoring his repeated statements that he could not breathe. His death followed the March killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot by police who invaded her home as she slept, looking for a suspect who did not live there and was already in custody.

During these protests, police at times have erupted in violence and attacked protesters. More than 4,000 protesters have been arrested so far nationwide, according to an Associated Press tally. And on Monday, law enforcement officials shot and killed David McAtee, a Black restaurant owner in Louisville, Kentucky.

The feelings a Black colleague may experience after witnessing or being a victim of police violence do not end when the workday begins. And for many, the workplace is yet one more space in which they have to grapple with other people’s racism and indifference.

If your colleagues include Black people, it’s your duty to figure out what genuine care and support you can offer, moving beyond assumptions of how they should feel or talk with you....

Do back up your words with action.

If your words of support are simply “I wish I knew what to say,” “I’m so sorry,” or just “Thinking of you,” do more research on how you can become informed and take action before reaching out to a Black person to make you feel better.

Castillo said instead of folks asking what they can do, she is more interested in hearing what initiatives these folks are committing to with their own lives. She said it’s encouraging when she sees colleagues who are “willing to put skin in the game, they’re willing to have those harder, difficult conversations in the workplace ... and they’re doing it all without expecting me to praise them for it.”

Another common mistake that occurs is under-preparation for these conversations, Thomas said. “When colleagues haven’t done their homework, Black employees bear the burden of steering conversations about race or correcting misinformation,” she said.

Consider the cost of investing in conversations about race to Black colleagues’ careers. Women and minorities are penalized for promoting diversity like racial differences and are rated worse by their bosses, while their male and white counterparts face no penalty, according to a 2016 study published in the Academy of Management Journal.

Continue reading the original article at HuffPost

Read the original research in Academy of Management Journal


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