New supervisor

I was told that I was getting a new supervisor. They knew nothing about the Black community, the Aboriginal community or general low-income communities that I worked with. I had to appeal to the boss who agreed with me that this was a bad idea. I ended up working it out so that would report directly to him. You have to keep asking the question and constantly explain why something is a problem. I’ve spent so much time doing the educating thing. Maybe we have to ask people “is this actually ok with you?” Write the questions and the problem out, send an email, leave a paper trail. That way things are more likely to get addressed, and it gives you more power too.

 

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People don’t really understand

I had a professor that I took a journalism course from at King’s. I felt he was racist. There were only 2 Black students in his class and he treated us unfairly. He would embarrass us in front of the whole class. We had to sit in a circle and pitch a story every day. He would always shut our stories down, me and the other Black student. He would tell the other students that they had awesome ideas. We didn’t get it, because some of their stories were about dolls or things like that, while we were offering stories that were about actual social issues. He made us feel stupid, to the point that I never wanted to wake up in the morning to go to school.
It made me not want to contribute anytime I did group work. The other students would shoot down my ideas too. I became stereotyped as the “Black angry woman”, but the other students don’t know that it comes from a place of hurt, and being rejected.
I invited in a Black writer to interview and the professor walked right by her and didn’t even say hi to her.
This all has affected my future job prospects, because this professor would give me a bad reference. I have to go and volunteer in order to try to get a better reference. It just stops you from doing so many things, it makes your life so difficult. People don’t really understand.

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Tokenism

Whenever an issue regarding race came up at my workplace, or with another organization, I was always asked to step in. It was like, “she’s our Black one, look how diverse we are!” They’d ask me to be on the news sometimes. I was their token, and the rest of the time the organization itself never did anything to actually change. The stress was part of the reason I eventually left the job.

 

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Why can’t I sit on the board?

Black people are always made to be the diversity coordinators for the organizations they work for (never the managers). In my job I wasn’t a diversity coordinator, but I actually had an interest in diversity hiring so I wanted to sit on a board that our organization was participating in along with other organizations. My manager, though, wouldn’t let me sit on that board, even though I did graduate work on that topic and she had no experience in it, nothing to contribute. She knew I was interested in it, I had said it in my job interview, but yet she would not relinquish that power.

 

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Diversity

I worked for an organization that boasted of having a very diverse collection of employees. There were actually only 4 Black people out of 135 employees. Most of their “diversity” was made up of Europeans, or light-skinned people from the Middle East. They had no equity hiring policies; they did nothing to ensure that managerial positions would start to be more diverse. Those that made all the hiring and HR decisions remained white and Canadian. They were happy to hire racialized people and immigrants for small projects, but as soon as you went up to salary-based positions? Forget it. It was so clear.
We’d be sitting around, a team of 15-20 people where I was the only Black person, and the others were all white, talking about how to serve populations of people who were often racialized…there was something wrong with that.

 

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