AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION

Abstract

The historical and sociological literature portrays the agony of African Americans who have been and are still victimized by discrimination in the workplace. They particularly face a series of unique problems from the policies and the practices of the organizations or from the actions of the individuals. African American women and several minorities were not allowed to participate in most of the desirable jobs and institutions for decades. Even though this is declared unconstitutional, the discrimination against women and minority groups often persisted. But some work organizations are making progress in their efforts to fight against discrimination. Problems are imposed on the African Americans through the complex interactions of racially motivated negative attitudes. They face employment process biases, push into minority positions, lack of access to network and mentors, difficulties in advancement and promotion, and psychological and emotional maltreatment. For African American males especially, employment discrimination patterns are found. For them, employment had become tough in many sectors from 1970’s to 1990’s, as per Burstein (1985). Studies have found that college- educated African Americans have more difficulty than their Caucasian counterparts in securing employment. Discrimination and stereotypes in education discouraged many from obtaining credentials and skills to get good jobs; the higher the position, the higher the level of discrimination against the African Americans. The employers believed that young African American men were lazy, did not want to work, were immoral, and were not as smart as Caucasian youth. Even if they were employed by chance, they did not receive enough organizational support, had less intrinsic authority, and did not have proper channels of communication and less opportunities of promotion.

Women have to encounter both sexual and racial harassment in the workplace, which involved verbal abuse, epithets, threats, slurs, derogatory comments and unwelcome remarks. This compels them to leave a workplace culture they perceived to be negative and oppressive. They respond to workplace discrimination and racial harassment with anger, rage, hostility, resentment, bitterness and aggression. They often have to face the displacement of feelings of frustration of their husbands. North America’s history of discrimination against African Americans suggests that justice demands effective policies to protect them from human right abuses. Continuation of discrimination and inequalities in work organizations perpetuate a system of injustice and social stratification characterized by imbalance of power and resources. This is a reality of economic, political and social constraint. There is a need for understanding African American experiences in the workplace. The research is essentially an overview of major African American workplace problems that needs to be addressed for an inclusive and diverse workplace. The research will address (a) organizational, individual and structural sources of African American discrimination in the workplace; (b) workplace discrimination, the Affirmative Action controversy, racism and human rights violations of African Americans; and (c) organizational and governmental strategies in response to workplace discriminatory practices.

Keywords: African Americans, Discrimination, Workplace

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 56-76 (Download PDF)

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