Ask Sheree: How to Deal With Racist Coworkers

Four strategies to help you rise above racism in the workplace

(Image: iStock.com/PaulaConnelly)

Dear Sheree,

I am a 32-year-old Latino woman, who has worked in an administration position for seven years in education. Two of my co-workers make racially insensitive comments at least once a week. Whenever I address my concerns to my supervisor, his response is always that the “statements are being taken out of context. ” I really like my job and want to stay, but need help on how to deal with these issues when they come up, without allowing myself to get angry.

Sofia

Dear Sofia,

Thanks for sharing your concerns.  There are many people who are experiencing the daily hurt and sting of racism professionally and personally.

Racism is not an excuse to give away your power to anyone. We do this when we allow others to get into our heads, to the point where we are frustrated and angry. Powerful humans must learn to use those instances as an opportunity to be more alert and aware of what we want to accomplish in our lives.

I understand, firsthand , how easy it to let your anger get out of control. Dealing with my own emotions getting out of control led me to write about my experience in my book,  Intuition: The Hidden Asset Everyone Should Learn to Use:

“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.”

Do Not Let Other People’s Problems Influence Your Energy Flow

 

It sounds to me like your coworkers know that they are getting under your skin, by observing your facial reactions and body language. Highly manipulative people are adept at knowing how to push our buttons to the point where it makes our reactions very visible.  And your coworkers are, most likely, taking pride in their successful track record, by knowing that you have reported their comments to your supervisor.

Racism is not an excuse to allow anyone into your heart, mind, body, or spirit.  But, it can be a powerful motivation to remain alert and aware to achieving your own life goals.  The key is to stay tuned with your intuition, to immediately know your reactions are becoming visible to others.

Your Body Is Your Laboratory

 

One of the first things we can do as powerful humans is to create a tone of feeling powerful each day. Your body is your best instrument for learning, feeling, and imaging feeling powerful.

Before you go to work, I am going to suggest you begin a short meditation practice (five to seven minutes) to learn how it feels for you to be truly peaceful. During your meditation, allow yourself to set an intention to feel peace , from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head.  Once you fully experience how it feels inside to feel peaceful, take six deep breaths and command your intuition to show you everyday the warning signs of anger in your body, so clearly you cannot possibly ignore the message.

Create a daily meditation practice at work by having two or three affirmations that you can say to yourself, as you reflect on being powerful. And whenever your coworkers attempt to make subtle racist remarks, pay attention to what goes on inside your body and learn how to shift into the emotion of peace. Learning how to shift your emotions will help you to develop the internal power to control what you project to others.

Racism Is No Excuse, but It Can Be a Powerful Motivator

 

Accept the reality that your life experience is different from the people, who are attempting to undermine your success. Look at it this way; you have worked harder than anyone knows to earn your position. These statements are being made to undermine you, and it’s your choice, as a consciously aware human, to allow them to get under your skin or not.  Yes, you can keep a journal or notebook noting the comments being said, but it sounds to me like your c-workers are adept at trying to get you upset, and your best defense is to learn to manage yourself more effectively.  We cannot allow other people’s hang-ups to affect our life.

We Need People to Step up and Be Leaders

 

Now more than ever, minorities are going to need to decide they are going to be leaders in their communities, families, and especially in running for public office.

If you are not already doing it, I am going to suggest that you mentor a minority employee at your office. Teach them how to not allow outside forces to throw off their balance. Taking this step will not only enhance the lives of the person you are mentoring, it will allow you to embrace leadership skills that are going to be extremely necessary now.

Here is a list of circumstances that everyone needs to stay mindfully aware of possible disagreements occurring:

  • Large public arenas, such as public transportation, airplanes, fairs, and public events.
  • Car accidents.
  • Another person outwardly expresses that you are invisible—people stepping in front of you in line or insisting that you move from a seat.
  • Overhearing conversations where minorities are being judged or spoken about in negative terms.

Sheree Franklin-Hill

Sheree Franklin is an Intuitive Life Strategist who helps individuals and organizations make better decisions in less time with less stress.  She is the author of Intuition: The Hidden Asset Everyone Should Learn to Use.  To learn more about Franklin’s book, click here.