African American Discrimination In The Workplace

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The workplace, as seen in the African American community is a very hostile and unfriendly environment (Whitaker, 2019). Discrimination will occur at any given moment in time, but African Americans see the culmination of this discrimination in waves. This said, discrimination not only has effects in the workplace, but also getting into the workplace, as job mobility and hiring of African Americans takes a hit. Blacks are experiencing new forms of the same prejudices. Instead of just seeing race, sex, and gender biases, you are starting to see appearance, credit scores, and employment history as further means of discrimination (Whitaker, 2019).

Discrimination/Prejudice are very big problems in the world in which we live in today. However, those are very broad terms and sometimes can mean different things to different people. The two words, that can be used interchangeably, as described to me mean the act of showing favor or un-favor to a particular group or set of individuals or objects that would make that group feel less or more of themselves. Operationalizing the definition in this way shows that this is an issue. Discrimination/Prejudice can come disguised in different forms as well. Racism and sexism are two of the most well-known forms of discrimination against certain groups or individuals. Sexism is showing favoritism to one sex more than the other sex. A common example of this is showing favor to men in the workplace over women with regards to pay, promotions, etc. Racism is showing disfavor to a specific racial group. A major form of this is White people showing only favoritism towards other Whites in the workplace in regard to pay, promotions, etc. over their Black counterparts. Both forms of discrimination mentioned, sexism and racism, are both prominent issues.

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Racial discrimination deals with unfair treatment of another individual due to their race or characteristics regarding their race, stereotypical features of that specific race like hair and facial features like nose, lips, eyes ('Race/Color Discrimination', 2019). This discrimination may not even always be direct, it can even be received based on if a White person marries someone who is not also of White descent. However, skin complexion can be used as a means of discrimination even between Whites and other Whites. The workplace has specific rules and regulations regarding this specific form of treatment, it is not right for this to happen, but it still is a problem. It does however become illegal when it gets so bad that it may cause an uncomfortable environment at the workplace and requires swift action by the company. ('Race/Color Discrimination', 2019).

In accordance with discrimination, Blacks are very underrepresented in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). It is stated that maybe this is due to the fact that Blacks do not have access to the same opportunities educational as Whites do (Funk & Parker, 2018). When you consider the HBCU education vs the PWI education you can maybe take into account that the teaching styles are similar but also very different. To cooperate this, I did a small little research survey myself between friends of mine who attend other HBCU’s and friends who attend PWI’s. Despite the fact that we both took the same class, the classes at PWI’s were more accelerated in their learning and they learned different things as well being there. Now this study is in no way a means for surprise or belief, as it is merely theory and not fully studied. However, it is enough to give someone doubt about it. To tie this back into the topic at hand, this provides needed evidence in the debate that we in fact may be at a disadvantage due to our resources at our institutions and therefore adding to the discrimination that we already face for being African-Americans or minorities in general.

Race or racism is often the major problem when it comes to work and just the world in general (Hexel et al., 2017). Despite the amendments and laws, we still are having this problem with race and yet the majority of White Americans claim that race is no longer an issue and that discrimination in the workplace does not exist and that it does not hinder any Black American (Hexel et al., 2017). Discrimination as it is, is very hard to measure. (Hexel et al., 2017) did a study to analyze trends of discrimination when it comes to hiring individuals for work. They analyzed 24 field experiments, including more than 54,000 applications for more than 25,000 positions. White applicants received 36% or more callbacks than Black applicants.

(Nunez-Smith et al., 2009) performed a cross-sectional study in which they looked within the medical field to find discrimination reported by physicians from diverse backgrounds. The idea of this study was to determine exactly how big of a problem discrimination is in the workplace and how race was viewed in their eyes. A sample of 529 physicians were chosen and the results went along with the view in the US. 71% of Black physicians report receiving some or a lot of racial discrimination during their career as opposed to Whites only feeling this way about 7% of the time. In conclusion it is reported that the non-majority race definitely feels discriminated against in the workforce (Nunez-Smith et al., 2009).

According to our national anthem we are supposed to be a land of freedom and opportunity, but it is very clear that that does not correlate and go over well with the African American community (Mann, 2019). Exactly how does one person fight racial discrimination? It’s important to note that discrimination comes in many forms like in our racial discrimination examples and that despite it being 2019, racial discrimination statistics in the US are still not great (Mann, 2019). 76% of African and Asian Americans reported to have received or experience discrimination as compared to 67% of Whites claiming to say they have never dealt with discrimination.

Not only is the African American alone discriminated against but, African American women are especially discriminated against. One of the main things African American women are discriminated on is the style of their hair as some forms of hairstyles are seen as “Black” hairstyles. Hair is one of those things that also can be its own form of discrimination.

Black women reported to have been 30% more likely to receive a meeting on how to carry themselves in the workplace. (Coalition, 2019) did a little survey on how women were viewed in terms of job readiness. They were shown two images of the same hairstyle on both Black and White women. The same hairstyle on a White woman was rated 25% higher in 'job readiness' than the exact same hairstyle on a Black woman. The survey shows that Black women were 1.5 times more likely to have reported having been sent home or know of a Black women sent home from the workplace because of her hair. Black hairstyles for natural hair such as locs, braids, bantu knots, etc. were ranked low for 'job readiness.' Black women fear scrutiny and discrimination when expressing their natural beauty in the workplace. Not only does this affect Black women but it also affects Black men as well. Black men, myself included, have been sent home due to a specific way my hair was style or a specific item of clothing that was being worn. Black women were more than 80% more likely to change their natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work (Coalition, 2019). The culmination of racism and sexism has limited the progress of the African American woman. To this day Black women are discriminated against due to their color and gender. The discrimination is especially prevalent in the workplace, where black women earn significantly less than their male counterparts, receive fewer opportunities than similarly qualified candidates and are also discriminated on for their hairstyles as well.

There is a clear and utter discrimination problem in the US and organizations are trying to keep it from getting out of control, but it already has gotten out of control (Hirsch, 2018). They have described racism and compared it to similar to a virus. It typically manifests and builds as a result of some form of avoidance or stereotyping in the workplace. It is the modern-day form of racism (Hirsch, 2018). Often, a big/public event that generates negative publicity for a company is a signal to an organization that it has a racism problem and that something needs to be done.

Being black at a predominantly white organization creates a very stressful environment (Wingfield, 2015). It is a very daunting feeling as it may make you feel alone. Most non-majority’s in white-collar positions work in environments that may seem hostile to them due to how they are discriminated against; which in itself has plenty of problems. (Wingfield, 2015) looked over study in which Black professionals in different occupations were seen and presumably given to figure out just the extent of the problem. Blacks have to be careful in how they react to these situations and how they respond to them as well. They felt that emotions of anger, frustration, and annoyance were discouraged, even when they worked in settings where these emotions were generally welcomed in certain contexts. During said study, (Wingfield, 2015) found out that work diversity meetings and trainings did not really help as it seemed to cause more stress. It goes to show just how much race plays a role in the workplace.

(Oser, Perry & Harp, 2013) states that for African Americans racism is a very high source of stress. (Oser, Perry & Harp, 2013) finds three sources of racism-related stress 1) Episodic stress derives from discrete and relatively rare experiences of upfront racial discrimination; (2) daily hassles come in the form of racial microaggression, including more subtle and often unintentional degradations and exclusions; and (3) chronic strain operates through limited opportunities and unequal access to resources that reflect institutional discrimination and stereotypes that conceal the talents and contributions of African Americans. These forms of stress can adversely affect mental health, operating through physiological, psychological, and behavioral pathways.

These studies influence mental well-being. Racism and discrimination can cause unwanted and extra stress for the Black American, especially African American women. For the African American woman, racism-related stress may be compounded by experiences of sexism. Like racism, sexism is reflected in individual attitudes, collective ideology, and the structure of social institutions. Chronic and acute stressors associated with sexism are linked to women's mental and physical health outcomes. Recent studies indicate that gender discrimination predicts psychological distress, anxiety, anger, obsessive-compulsivity, somatic symptoms, and depression.

By comparison, between 1966 and 2013, overall African American participation rates in the workforce increased from 8.2 percent to 14 percent (2013 EEO-1 Indicators report). ('African Americans in the American Workforce', 2019) In 2013, the United States' 45 million African Americans made up roughly 13 percent of the population. Despite the gains in employment made by African Americans in the last 50 years, the annual median income of African American households in 2012 was $33,321, compared with the national median at $51,017 ('African Americans in the American Workforce', 2019)

Race-based discrimination in a place of employment is illegal, yet it still continues and festers in the workplace today (Jameel & Yerardi, 2019). Researchers examined the level of racial discrimination in the United States labor market by randomly assigning identical résumés Black-sounding or hWite-sounding names and observing the impact on requests for interviews from employers. Results found that résumés with White-sounding names received 50 percent more callbacks than those with Black-sounding names, indicating that, all other things being equal, considerable racial discrimination exists in the American labor market, according to research conducted by According to their policy issue, “Racial discrimination continues to be pervasive around the world, and, in particular, in the United States. In response to disparities in labor outcomes among races in the US, policymakers have established equal employment policies in an attempt to prohibit racial discrimination in the hiring process that would perpetuate these disparities even more. Despite these policies, it is difficult to measure if employers are discriminating on the basis of race, as employers may be able to judge candidates based on characteristics which are not observable to researchers. Considerable racial inequality and discrimination is still pervasive in the U.S. labor market. Compared to White individuals, Black individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed, and earn nearly 25 percent less when they are employed. Race-based employment discrimination may be a cause of these disparities. Determining the prevalence of racial discrimination should shape policymakers' future decisions on affirmative action and equal employment laws.”

Résumés also varied by quality, with higher quality résumés having features such as summer employment experience, school-year employment, volunteering experience, extra computer skills, special honors, or military experience. Two high- and two low-quality résumés were sent to each job opening. The responses of prospective employers were measured according to a given résumé's ability to elicit a call back or e-mail request for an interview.

After the study was concluded, the results read: The results of this study indicate that, all other things being equal, race is still an important factor in the American labor market. A Black applicant's race certainly has negative effects on their employment prospects on average. Resumes with white-sounding names received 50 percent more callbacks than those with Black names. But regional differences are important to note - for example, in Chicago, employers located in Black neighborhoods discriminate less against black applicants. Based on researchers' estimates, a White-sounding name yielded as many more callbacks as an additional eight years of experience. There were no statistically significant differences in discrimination across the tested occupations, industries, and employers, and the level of discrimination was very similar in both cities. Federal contractors and employers who list 'Equal Opportunity Employer' in their ad discriminated as much as other employers. Some qualities that we might think would level the playing field had minimal effects. For example, there is evidence that the returns to improving credentials for white applicants are much higher than for black applicants. For resumes with White-sounding names, higher quality resumes received 30 percent more callbacks than low quality ones. For resumes with Black-sounding names, the higher quality resumes did not receive significantly more callbacks. White individuals living in richer, more educated, or Whiter neighborhoods also have higher callback rates, but Black individuals do not benefit any more than white individuals from this neighborhood effect.

To further demonstrate this effect, I performed my own study. The study I designed was used to express and show exactly firsthand how discrimination plays a part in the workplace, most specifically in the hiring process. A study designed to show just how discriminatory the system really is. What I did was me (Black) and my White friend Josh created a study where we each sent in different proctored resumes to different jobs. In these resumes we used stereotypical sounding names, descriptions, and even messed around with the education that we have done. To avoid any backlash we did not include any previous jobs as that may have significantly altered our results. Once we sent these out and received interview requests we went on interviews and collected data. The way we did the interviews was also very interesting. To some of the interviews we both dressed up and to some of the interviews we both dressed down. Another thing that was done was that we would talk differently than how we would normally talk. The results definitely went along with the statistics in other similarly ran studies. While dressed down Josh received about 25% more callbacks, job offers than me and while dressed up Josh only received about 8% more callbacks. This study in no way is a definitive study and should not be fully taken into consideration due to confounding variables not being accounted for and settings and other things that may have occurred but this can be a slight sliver of evidence and can be used as support for the argument that job discrimination and racism is definitely a thing when it comes to Whites vs. Blacks.

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African American Discrimination In The Workplace. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“African American Discrimination In The Workplace.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
African American Discrimination In The Workplace. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
African American Discrimination In The Workplace [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:

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