Double Standard Still the Standard
Newsletter volume 1 number 10
Forty years ago, overt racism was acceptable and Jim Crow laws distinctly marked the lines between races. Although the U.S. has changed laws and educated workers to embrace diversity, subtle discrimination occurs every day. It is important that interviewers continually evaluate their own sensitivity to minorities and do not allow these more subtle forms of discrimination to enter into the interview.
Many minorities do not complain about insulting behavior because they fear they will be considered overly sensitive or they won't be believed. But consider just a few of the incidents that African-Americans experienced recently:
- A congressional aide was repeatedly stopped at lobbyist sponsored receptions and asked to produce identification, while white colleagues were never questioned.
- After a nice dinner, a San Antonio black couple waited for a cab when they were joined by a white couple who agreed to wait for a second cab. When the first cab arrived, it passed up the African-American couple and the white couple jumped in and rode away.
- Denny's restaurants were accused of discrimination when African-Americans were given poor or no service and asked to pay for their meals in advance.
- The Chairman of the Georgia Black Caucus was waiting outside the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta for the valet to bring his car. A white woman approached him to retrieve her car. He explained he was not the valet. Then the woman's husband approached and asked again.
Many of us take for granted that we can walk into a reception unchallenged, get unbiased service in any restaurant or hail an empty cab and it will stop for us. Considering how we might feel if we were not treated this way can increase our sensitivity to the daily indignities others must endure. Increasing your own sensitivity is another step in making sure everyone you interview is treated with dignity and respect.