The nation—in fact, the world—has reached a new level of collective consciousness of systemic racism in the United States. For the first time, the United States may be forced to properly achieve truth and reconciliation for its long history of racial violence against African Americans. Advocates have made clear that this movement is ongoing. Systemic racism not only exists in policing, but also in healthcare, education, and employment.
Attorneys who represent workers in employment discrimination cases against their employers are all too familiar with the reality that we are far from living in a post-racial society. African people and other minorities face ongoing discrimination in the workplace. Black workers earn only three-quarters of what white workers earn. Even with advanced degrees, Black workers are often still underpaid. The disparities are even starker for Black women.
Even overt racial harassment in the workplace still occurs to this day. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has documented reports of cases where nooses were displayed to African American workers and where managers and other employees used racial slurs and made racially derogatory comments. When African American workers report these incidents internally, employers often do not take any meaningful steps to stop it.
The workplace serves as a microcosm for society at large because people often learn new behaviors or affirm existing behaviors that they later bring to other spaces in their communities. Ending racial discrimination and harassment in the workplace not only ensures that workers of color can achieve economic prosperity and success, but helps bring broader cultural change.