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How professionals of color deal with bias

On Behalf of | May 12, 2020 | Discrimination

Racism and bias don’t exist in professional circles of American society, right? Try telling that to professionals of color who deal with racial bias every day. The bias is so prevalent that some professionals alter the most basic things about themselves to avoid conflict.

Below are examples of small ways professionals choose to live their daily lives, in the face of bias and prejudice.

Not wearing casual clothes on “casual Fridays.” A lawyer in South Carolina told the New York Times he never wears casual clothing on Fridays. Instead, he opts for his everyday “uniform” — a suit and tie. He also hangs his work ID from his rear view mirror, in case he’s asked to show his credentials.

Kyle Strickland, an analyst at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, says people should not have to wear different clothing to feel comfortable. “But at the end of the day, you are still a person of color in America, because we have not necessarily confronted the issue of race head-on,” he says.

The default is “you’re not a doctor.” Several physician interviewed by the New York Times said they routinely are mistaken for a nurse or orderly. Patients ask, “When will I see the doctor?” When a white nurse enters the room, patients assume he’s the doctor.

One Latina doctor said she alters her speech patterns, so she won’t sound menacing or scary.

“The default is never ‘you are the physician,’” one doctor said. “This is the tricky thing about bias and talking about it,” she said. “It is not macroscopic anymore. It is all underlying.”

And the insults don’t come only from patients. One doctor said colleagues have accused her of playing the “race card” to get into medical school.

Keeping his distance. A black entrepreneur in New Jersey says he will modify his walking paths in parking lots, to avoid coming into close vicinity of white women. “Why cause drama? I just wait,” he said.

If you believe you are being discriminated against due to race, contact a lawyer who is experienced in this area of the law.