Monday, March 12, 2018

The White Male Struggle with Black Authority

First of all let me clarify something, I am NOT a psychologist who has done any type of research on this subject.  I can only speak from experience, which I'm almost sad to say.

Until recently I never considered, to any real degree,the dynamics of white men working under the leadership of blacks.  Yes, President Barack Obama had a large staff of folks who were predominately white but I saw them as people who were just happy to be working for the President and had his genuine interests at heart.  I, on the other hand, have always worked for white males during my long career in radio and television news.  It's a given that your news manager will more than likely be a white male.

Last week I was promoted to a project leader position within the company I am currently at.  I was given a team, which includes one white male.  Once he realized he was on my team and not the team of my white male counterpart, our relationship became adversarial.  From day one, he made it clear through his mannerisms and arrogance that he didn't respect me.  When my white male counterpart passed out reading materials for the project, he made it a point to say "thank you" loudly enough for the entire room to hear him.  When I passed them out, his silence was deafening.  On another occasion, he asked ME to step out of the room so HE could have a conversation---a conversation he could've easily dealt with at my desk.  Then to add insult to injury, he sent me a note using incorrect grammar (slang), which I saw as INTENTIONAL and totally unnecessary.  I kindly told him, with a big beautiful smile on my face, that I had a journalism degree and he could feel free to use some of those $10 words he had stored in his vocabulary bank.  My guess is he doesn't have any but that's beside the point.

THE POINT IS:  Because white men come from a place of privilege, some of them have a tough time respecting the leadership roles of blacks in the workplace.  They are used to running the show or working for someone who looks and acts like them.  They don't see us as their equals so having to take orders from us is beneath them.  Some think the only reason we're in the positions we're in is because of affirmative action.  What some whites fail to realize is their skin color has provided them with significant benefits.  They don't understand or could care less about the fact that we have work twice as hard and go above and beyond to prove our qualifications while their "good ol' boy network" works well for them.  They don't have to worry that their credibility as a leader could be tarnished in any way by the implicit racial bias that people have.  They can also rest assured that any conflict they might have with a Supervisor of a different race won't impact them as much as it will on their leader.

To be perfectly honest, his behavior does bother me because he seems to feel emboldened by this new political era ushered in by Donald Trump.  But in the end I will have the final say when I do his evaluation and recommend if he should be considered for new projects.  He still has time to turn it around and I will definitely give him that opportunity.

But there is a saying about know, right!