Striking Oil

If there is any question whether racism is still olive in corporate America, pick up Roberts vs. Texaco, an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at the largest racial discrimination lawsuit, served and won, in U.S. history.

Bari-Ellen Roberts recounts her tenure as a senior financial analyst for Texaco Oil Co., detailing her personal and professional struggle in a racially hostile atmosphere. Texaco initially tried to hire Roberts at a position and salary well below what her experience and qualifications called for. She eventually accepted a job with an appropriate title and a comparable salary but endured open hostility and blatant racial slurs.

In the face of extreme adversity and with few allies, Roberts refused to be treated unfairly. She and a co-worker filed a dass-action lawsuit against Texaco in 1997 for breaching their civil rights. While the details of the landmark case come late in the book, Roberts does give a factual, day-by-day account of the trial, which resulted in a $176 million settlement. Sadly for many African Americans, Roberts’ intimate self-portrait of personal sacrifice and pain — physical illness, mental anguish and family strain — may ring all too familiar.

Roberts vs. Texaco: A True Story of Race and Corporate America by Bari-Ellen Roberts and Jack White, Avon Books, $25. To order, call BooksNow! At 800-Books-Now or visit www.BooksNow. com/BlackEnterprise.

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