Call Centre Trauma

Worked for a Call Centre and got sick while on the job. Asked the team manager if I could get permission to leave. If he said yes, I’d get paid, but if I left without asking I’d lose the pay. He did not look up from his paper work. However he mumbled rudely; ‘what you don’t want to just go? It’s the money you’re worried about?’ He is willing to ask and request time off for dominant race.

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Viola Desmond Day

I work in home care. In February, 2015, some coworkers and I was carrying on as usual, one person spoke up and said “YOU PEOPLE ” just showing off, because they gave “YOU PEOPLE” Viola Desmond day! very loud I said what did you say, and he repeated it 3 times everything got quite, then I said wow really, we deserve much more, and they made most of us work that day.

I said I’m going to HR and you ran into the wrong African Canadian woman this time. Yhe rest of the night someone would come to me and say something, oh he didn’t mean it, one person said to me he work here for years they ain’t going to do anything, another said he always saying something smart, and you guys let him get away with it. It was to late to go to HR that night, so the next day I went to work early to go, the first person I see is him trying apologizing hard, said I’m sorry we were all joking. I said I don’t joke like that!

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Why do I get skipped?

After college I began to work in my field. My employer is fully aware of my aspirations to advance my career. It started with me attempting to get a supervisor position. I was denied the position three times. The first time no reason was given; the second time I was told it was because I was still finishing my education, yet shortly after they promote two other employees, both still in university, over me. The third time was because I relied on public transportation and couldn’t stay until the very end of shifts (sometimes 3am).

And again, shortly after they have a supervisor whom has another job and must leave by 10pm every shift which is earlier than I was required to leave. This took place over three years. When anyone else got a promotion there was a notice posted praising that employee for their hard work. When I finally got promoted I got nothing. It took me three years and others 3 months. Then after being a supervisor for two years, I still expressed wanting to advance further. One of the staff only with the company a year get promoted to supervisor and gets more responsibility than me. A year later she gets ANOTHER promotion to management. And I have been trying for that position for three years. Now I know it is not my work. I get wonderful letters from all our clients. I have secured future business numerous times.

All of my subordinates tell me they have no idea why she got the position over me. I mean when your staff come to you more angry than you are yourself it makes you start to think. I dont want to say it is because I am black. But when you consider I am the only black supervisor I am aware of in my entire 6 years of being there, and that there are no black managers at all, it makes you wonder.

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Just a joke?

I’ve been graced with gems such as: Black people need to get over slavery. People can only make you feel as bad as you let them (This was in a conversation about racism. According to this man, apparently racism is a bunch of black people letting other races make them feel bad.) When I got rightfully angry at another co worker, I was called an angry black woman. When I wore a scarf to work, I was told to “get that stupid thing off my head” and told that I looked like Aunt Jemima. I didn’t say anything because they get really defensive. I called out someone one day for making the “joke” that all Chinese restaurants serve cat and dog and the rebuttal that I received was “How is that racist? they really eat cats and dogs there.” I’m thankful that I no longer work there.

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Ignorant manager

Some of the black employees were in the coat room one day on break. There were some white employees in there as well. So a manager( who will remain nameless) comes in and says ” why don’t all black people sound the same” so I say what do you mean? And a white guy says yea what do you mean? All white people don’t sound the same. So the manager says well people from North Preston don’t sound the same as people from Hammonds Plains or from Halifax. I said yea and white people from Halifax don’t sound the same as white people from Cape Breton!!! End of conversation. This same manager was the one who on 2 occasions called me Little Susie Sunshine. After me already advising him what being called Sunshine to a black person represented.

Now I’m on a roll so I will tell all stories related to this particular manager. The final straw was when he wrote my name and another co-worker’s name who is also black on a calendar under a picture of 2 black dogs. Now mind you he wrote some names of white co-workers under pictures as well: one dog having curly hair, so that represented a girl with curly hair. So he went around the floor showing everybody these Black dogs and telling the white people how these dogs were myself and my co-worker. So he then comes over to me and starts flipping through the calendar saying this dog is so and so and this dog is so and so. So I say I can’t wait to see what dog is me. Sooooo he flips to the black dogs and there’s our names. So I say why are those dogs us, and he says “well isn’t it obvious?” So I say “no it’s not do tell!!” So I call over another manager, who is Black, I say come see what so and so did. He says hang on, I’ll be right there. Then the lightbulb goes off in the white manager’s head, he turns bright red and runs to his desk… So the next day I went in early and reported him to HR. He still had the calendar at his desk.

I would have to say as a black woman, this was by far the most degrading thing I have ever had done to me. For him to go around and show all the white people, thinking he was being funny. He either was calling me a Black Bitch or a black dog. Haven’t figured out which yet and it doesn’t matter. He “resigned” from the company.

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Act more white

As a biracial person, I’ve had many experiences personally and professionally that have caused me to question my validity and self-worth. This particular instance was my most recent encounter with racism. I was having a conversation with a caucasian francophone colleague regarding racist comments made by another caucasian colleague. In this conversation she told me she understood what I was feeling etc. The conversation proceeded to how I was perceived in my office as being defensive (referring to conversations surrounding racially charged events in the media). My colleague then said “I wish we got to see more of your mom’s side in you”. Note: my colleague was making reference to the fact my Mom is White. But in case there was any confusion she then said “your white side”.

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Ridiculous behaviour

I am a white female who has a black spouse from NS. In my early 20s I was working at a bank in NS. One day one of the ladies said “Now wait just a cotton picking minute!” I heard the comment and rolled my eyes at the childishness of it but was not prepared for what happened next. The lady who said it ran over to me apologizing profusely to me because she had seen me in the bank with my boyfriend. It made me wonder if this type of comment was acceptable to the clients and employees of that bank, and if I was not there no one would have had a second thought? It was her who should have been embarrassed for saying something so stupid but the spectical she made by calling me out in front of my coworkers and clients made me feel embarrassed for myself and my boyfriend. I was only 20 at the time and had no idea how to handle the situation with this lady who was senior to me but let me tell u, after ten years of seeing this type of thing first hand I certainly get my two cents worth in now and wish I would have then!

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I’m not a mannequin

Frequently at work, I am constantly stopped about my hair and asked if I wash it, and if its real, the white folks then proceed to reach out and touch my hair without permission as if I’m their pet animal, telling me how cool it is.  I would never just assume I can touch their person.  Why is it ok to do that to me?

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Whose food is “normal”?

At my work placed we tend to have lunch over meetings.  The other day we were about to go into a meeting, and I had heated up my food that was my traditional African home food.  When we were walking down the hall to the meeting room, one of the staff stopped me and said that my food stank.  She asked me to go back to my office and finish eating my food before coming into the meeting while the rest of them ate their Canadian food.

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