Surviving a Racist Workplace

For the past month or so, I have been deliberately thinking about getting out. I spend much of my time contemplating about the best way to leave not just the company I’m currently working at but out of Kuwait entirely.

There were a lot of changes that took place at work in the past couple of months and it’s very unfortunate that I have to work with racist superiors. It is very tempting to leave my position but it also puts me at an unfair advantage specially so that it wasn’t me who created an uncongenial workplace to begin with. 

I am the only female employee in my workplace and to disagree with the managers who have control over my job is tough. Having higher-ranked racist managers is even tougher. To be recently excluded from some of the benefits I used to enjoy since I started working here just because I’m not Korean is quite unacceptable, unreasonable and offensive after all these years of working my ass for the company specially the last year or so. 

For most of us, majority of our time is spent in the workplace. And at work, we don’t usually have a choice to go with a group we personally would want to work with. But we have a common goal and for a country and a company like this, we have to work in a very diverse working environment since much of its manpower are of a mixed race whether we like it or not. Personally, this is not a difficult thing to deal with as long as we all are treated fairly. However, working in a racially hostile environment is stressful and affects a person’s well-being. I’ve been working in the same company for the past seven years and racism was never an issue until very recently after all the changes that took place.

I personally find no excuse for people who say racist comments specially in the workplace. I don’t believe I should just swallow hurtful remarks. I take such things personally. I know it’s the other person’s issue and not mine but as I’ve mentioned, I take it very personal but I try to process it as healthily as I could.

I can’t help but speak up when I hear racist comments at work even when it is not directed to me or any other specific person. It is not okay because it makes everyone start thinking it is acceptable. If a comment hurts me, I feel the need to address this to the person who made the comment. It is difficult not to say anything and it may even imply that I agree with them. But speaking up puts my job at risk in return. And I have to consider the person’s authority over my job, too. I should be realistic of the consequences it will cause me but it’s not very easy to just shut up and pretend I don’t hear anything.

Sometimes, I just change the subject. However, this relies of course in the other person’s emotional intelligence. If they pick up the cue that I don’t agree with what they said, then it’s good. At times, they even apologize.

Some days, it’s nice to play dumb at racist jokes. Acting dumb and asking the person what his racist joke means often leaves them not being able to explain why it’s funny. It would need them to suggest a racist stereotype should they want to explain and when this happens, I’d be glad to ask the accuracy of such stereotyping and then it’s easy to pinpoint the racism in his joke.

I’m not sure how much longer I can manage to continue working here. When something’s wrong, it is really difficult to turn a blind eye. Apparently, to confront racism is a long haul. It is a slow process and takes a lot of patience. And mine is running out.

Author: Just_Me :)

Basically a breathing, moving, eating and happy-go-lucky homo sapiens. Full-time daydreamer and part-time paranoid. I love reading, I love Roger Federer, I love food.

25 thoughts on “Surviving a Racist Workplace”

  1. Hi there and thank you for posting such a personal blog of your experience. I can sense how hurt you feel and how undervalued as a person and as an employee working with racist colleagues and managers. I’ve worked in male dominated workplaces all of my career and have experienced both direct and indirect sexist and racist comments and like you, I objected to them quite vocally. I am a woman who speaks up and I strongly believe that prejudices should not be part of the workplace, in any form. However, this experience brought me to learning about conflict resolution and non-violent communication which I now love to blog about and I am desperate to help people who have gone through the same experiences, to communciate out of the conflict. Feel free to check my blog for tips about communciating with your manager. I’d love to help you more so please feel free to contact me for some further tips and advice. Good luck !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot for taking time to read. I will definitely contact you should I be needing help. I’m so glad to know someone out there is willing to help. Have a good day! 🙂

      Like

  2. Racism is never acceptable. You should NOT have to put up with it. Do you have an HR dept.? I would keep a notebook of every time something happens and jot down the negative events/ comments and the date and time it happens. As long as you have data to document when this occurs you have power. Just letting your colleagues see you are aware of their rude actions may be enough to stop them. But, I would take your data to the HR dept. and report what is happening. Let them know that you are being bullied etc. The working place is supposed to be free of racism and bullying. Don’t let this continue. You have rights. Every workplace should have a code of conduct for the behavior of employees. Most contracts have something written about behavioral protocol. Take action. You do have the right to be treated respectfully.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When they say inappropriate things respond in a different language. When they ask what that means, answer them in the same language. This works great in the U.S. because it’s the U.S. Most people can barely speak English.

    But seriously, I know exactly how you feel. I work with a lot of diversity every day and hear racists comments. They’re mostly out of ignorance and after a while I find the humor in stereotypical racism being said by all races.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When you say racist, are you talking about a race of people in general, or perhaps something related to being a woman, etc.? I am not trying to be hard to get along with, but I am not certain I understand. Are you the only person in the company who is some different race such as perhaps black, Mexican, etc.? Thank you kindly. As far as the feminist issue, I have been there and suffered over many years in jobs where the male types made a lot of crude remarks and did things I would be ashamed of doing to another human being in any workplace. So this is why I am confused and want to know if I am misreading it. Thank you again. Any type of discrimination is unwarranted and should be illegal. Good luck with it, whatever the issue is.

    Like

    1. Yes, I’m talking about a race of people. And I am NOT the only Non-Korean in the company though I am the only female employee. It’s not really much because I’m a woman but because I’m NOT a Korean.
      Thanks for reading.🙂

      Like

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