Charleston White, internet personality and former gang member-turned-community activist, went viral after quite an interesting conversation around workplace violations appeared on social media.
In the clip of the recorded discussion, White can be heard telling an interviewer that he “sued Cingulair before AT&T, I got 40 ,000 dollars out of them.”
White shared the details of two separate incidents where he sued companies for workplace retaliation after he allegedly reported the companies to OSHA for safety violations and told them he was the whistleblower.
Because White is a comedian, it’s difficult to take these workplace pronouncements at face value, and his statements given with comedic timing make it hard to trust what he says is completely factual.
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However, White’s statements bring to light the unequal treatment of Black workers in the workplace in general, whether those workers file suit, as White alleges in the video, or not.
In 2020, a Black Facebook worker, Oscar Veneszee Jr., alleged that the tech company engaged in racial discrimination in the workplace.
“We have a Black people problem,” Veneszee told NPR. “We’ve set goals to increase diversity at the company, but we’ve failed to create a culture at the company that finds, grows and keeps Black people at the company.”
Veneszee and two recruits he attempted to employ at Facebook filed a formal complaint with the EEOC alleging that the company did not hire his recruits because of their race. They say that this complaint was filed on behalf of Black people who both work for Facebook and are applying for jobs at the company.
In corroboration with Veneszee’s claims, Mark Luckie, a former Facebook employee wrote a memo following his exit from the company detailing the company’s failures of both its Black employees and Black users of its social media platform.
“Black staffers at Facebook know that by raising our voices we risk jeopardizing our professional relationships and our career advancement,” he wrote. “As much as we’d like to convince ourselves these are minor inconveniences, they continue to eat away at us and affect our work. It’s only when talking to other black employees experiencing the same issues that we come to accept that it is a pattern of behavior deeply connected to the culture at Facebook.”
In March 2022, several Black women came forward to accuse tech giant Google of creating a “racist culture” and filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging that the company marginalizes Black employees, denies advancement opportunities to people of color and disregards sexual assault allegations among other things in the workplace, NBC News reported.
“These women tried to ring the alarm, tried to raise awareness about the discriminatory and bigoted culture,” said civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. “And Google did not retaliate against the racist culture. Google retaliated against the victims of the racist culture.”
These violations are not isolated to the tech space, as both White’s words and larger data available about the workplace experiences of Black people can attest. Across industries, Black people in general seem to have their work devalued as Valerie Wilson the director of the Economic Policy Institute on Race told MSNBC.
“Black workers, on average, are not being hired, promoted or paid according to what would signal their level of productivity based on their experience or education,” Wilson said. “It absolutely impacts everything, it impacts your family’s economic security.”