How To Handle Racism By Coworkers

By Victor Ochieng

A 32-year-old Latino woman by the name Sofia, who serves in an administrative position at her workplace, sent a question to Sheree Franklin of “Ask Sheree,” asking her how to handle her racist coworkers. Sofia, who’s been with the company in that position for seven years, said two of her co-workers have been directing racially insensitive comments at her at least once every week.

Sadly, her supervisor hasn’t done anything about it despite having spoken about her experience. Ironically, the supervisor keeps on telling her that the racial statements “are being taken out of context.” The fact that Sofia loves her job and, therefore, wouldn’t want to quit makes the situation even trickier, she said. And that’s why she reached out to Franklin.

In response, Franklin gave her a few invaluable tips.

First, Franklin addressed the issue of anger; how Sofia could deal with her coworkers without letting them get on her nerves. She quotes a paragraph from her book “Intuition: The Hidden Asset Everyone Should Learn To Use,” which says, “Have you ever experienced anger to the point where it almost led to violence? I experienced this level of rage during a chance encounter with a woman on the street, and it served as a major wake up call to the danger of allowing my emotions to get out of control […] Going through this experience taught me to approach life like a chess game, to play each step carefully and not allow myself to hand over my power to anyone. I may never completely vanquish anger from my life, but I can definitely control how it affects me and my reaction to others.”

Besides anger, Franklin highlighted the following:

Don’t let other people dictate your energy flow

First, she warned Sofia of letting her coworkers see expressions on her face or her body language that tells them they’re getting under her skin. Manipulative people, Franklin says, are good at pushing some buttons until they see they’ve gotten on your nerves. So, dealing with your expression in general is a good step towards making racist coworkers feel they’re not getting you agitated.

Build inner peace

Franklin suggested to Sofia to take some time every morning, at least five minutes, to meditate. This will give her a feel of how having inner peace feels. She points out that the body is the best instrument for learning and so you should start every day with a powerful feeling and try to keep it that way for the rest of the day. You must create the intention to feel peace. Remain vigilant about anger signs and learn how to overcome them. That means knowing how to transform incoming energy, positive or negative, into a positive drive. Once you develop such internal power, you can easily shift your emotions so that your detractors feel that their efforts are futile.

Let racist acts directed at you motivate

If you let racist coworkers detract you, you’re likely to lose your job, especially in a place where your supervisor is already telling you that you’re taking things out of context. Take charge and remain focused so that you deliver in your professional and personal responsibilities.

Step up and be a leader

First, learn how to handle the effects of racism. Once you’ve mastered the art, ensure you also mentor other young people on how best to deal with their unique experiences. Encourage them to be leaders within their communities without making excuses for their skin color or social background.

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