RSS

I am done turning the other cheek

We have to speak up when we here and see discrimination in the workplace.

We have to speak up when we here and see discrimination in the workplace.

At 32 years old, I am fed up with having to always turn the other cheek in order to keep my job, and at one point my basketball scholarship.  I am highly disappointed that most of the people that tell me to turn the other cheek are older black people, or older minorities of various ethnicities.

With three kids, I cannot afford to be unemployed. However, what kind of man allows people to walk all over them and disrespect them with offensive comments?

I am not sure I can explain what I am feeling. I will give a few examples of situations I have been in the last ten years in three very different industries.

First example comes from Portland State University, where I would end up being kicked off the team prior to the start of the basketball season my senior year.  This is an example of me not turning the other cheek.

I was kicked off the team for standing up to my coach who tried to reprimand me for missing twenty minutes of a non-mandatory open gym. I had to meet with a professor, and it could not wait according to the professor. I was trying to make sure that I had a passing grade in a class.

The sad part about it is that my teammates did nothing to help me, but did a lot to help themselves in my absence. Actually looking at my departure from the team as an opportunity for them to play more, or have a bigger role on the team.

Coach Bone did not care about the fact that I was a student-athlete. Instead of accepting his punishment, I told him no. What happened next was somewhat unexpected. He hung up the phone in my face and within minutes he texted me, that I was no longer on the PSU basketball team.

I immediately got a low paying job.  I lost my scholarship, and was left with a high school education. I was stuck.

I had a newborn baby and a girlfriend that thought I was an idiot for standing up for myself against someone that was taking advantage of his absolute authority. I ended up re-joining the team halfway through the season. I always regretted the decision to go back to a situation that I did not agree with. I felt like although I was not playing basketball anymore, I at least stood up for myself.

At one point in time, turning the other cheek could save a mans life.  We have made a tradition out of turning the other cheek.  If we ever expect to eradicate discrimination in the workplace we have to start a new tradition.

At one point in time, turning the other cheek could save a mans life. We have made a tradition out of turning the other cheek. If we ever expect to eradicate discrimination on the basis of ethnicity we have to start a new tradition.  Speak out!!

The second example I want to present comes from my time as a lead line cook, at the University of Washington. I was punched in the stomach and accused of having an ego for taking great pride in my job. Always on time, a fast learner, and I had great customer service.

One day while preparing to open for the day, my kitchen manager/chef who was heavier than me, but nowhere near as big as me size wise walked up to me and punched me in the stomach. My first reaction was to grab him and slam his ass into the walk-in fridge that stood to the left of where he was.  I thought about my job that I could not afford to lose. I did nothing. Actually I felt like I didn’t do anything, I told HR thinking that the issue would be resolved. What happened next was extremely upsetting and disappointing.

Instead of reprimanding my former kitchen manager, my ability to do my job was questioned. Co-workers that I asked HR to interview, were never contacted, and I ended up having to move to another location on campus. I was given my own platform, where I was allowed to use some of my own recipes. They gave me some autonomy to try and calm me down.

I find it really weird that the white men that I have worked under feel the need to establish physical dominance over me despite the fact that I am 6’10” 260 pounds.

My white head coach made it a point to tell me that if he was my age he would whoop me, and that he wished we could fight.  What?? In a fight, I would have whooped his ass.

My first job after retiring from basketball was at the Hard Rock Café, where I worked under a white male General Manager that stood 6’4” and weighed 170 maybe 180.  For some reason he use to put his hands on me, lightly shoving me, and making it a point to let me know that if we ever got into an altercation he would kick my ass.  I use to think what the hell is wrong with these little white men thinking that they can whoop me?

I always felt like I was treated poorly by white men because of how respectful I was towards them. My respect seems to have been mistaken for docility.

One thing that they failed to realize is that I did not want to lose my job, nor did I want to go to jail.  Or maybe they did realize that and they took full advantage.

All that would happen if I ever acted on the threats or challenges to fights would be me kicking their ass, losing my job and possibly ending up in prison for assault.

I accepted the position. I ended up leaving UW.

The third example comes from my new job. I will not disclose the name of my company but, in the short time that I have been here, I have already dealt with racist comments and racist gestures that have upset my African American co-workers and me.

I have been instructed by some of my African American co-workers to keep quiet. We had a long conversation about why I should not say anything. They kept saying although you would be right, you could also lose your job.

It donned on me that society will never change with this type of attitude. Racism and discrimination in the workplace will never go away if people are more worried about losing their job than keeping their dignity.

I feel like turning the other cheek is a huge part of the problem. How will white people know they are being offensive and disrespectful? If we can’t tell them they are, or worse unwilling to. How will we get past racism without being able to point it out?

We are in this together.

We are in this together.

Although, I embrace my individuality, I fully understand that in order to solve the issue of racism, solidarity is extremely necessary.

If co-workers/teammates came together and protested, walked out on the job together, filed a group grievance, and made it public knowledge that a company, or a college team was racist, I am sure that more would be done to actually eliminate racism in the workplace.


Your Comment