In the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody, protesters have for days taken to the streets of Milwaukee and other major American cities to demand an end to racial injustice. The strength in numbers and the persistence of the protesters has prompted a number of companies to declare solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and vow to improve diversity and end racial discrimination in the workplace.
A recent Forbes column by Maia Niguel Hoskin argues that a combination of “antiblack racism in the workforce,” the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the African American community and the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery contribute to racial battle fatigue (RBF).
Hoskin says RBF is a term coined by race theorist William Smith more than a decade ago to describe the experiences and stress of African American men encountering racism in predominantly white institutions. She writes that RBF has a broader application, however, and that it applies “to the experiences and responses of all people of color in America who are exposed to racism.”
She points out that studies show that long-term exposure to racism and discrimination has psychological and physical repercussions such as increased depression, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart problems and more. She adds that the “novel coronavirus has proven to be a significant source of stress and anxiety for the black community” as well.
Hoskins writes that “(m)any black workers enter their place of employment carrying an overwhelming weight associated with being exposed to anti-black racism and discrimination” and that this is also a source of significant stress.
As we have noted before here in our blog, studies have shown that African Americans report a 60 percent higher rate of workplace discrimination than whites and that black employees account for 26 percent of claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, though African Americans are only 13 percent of the total U.S. workforce.
The struggle for equality has been long and difficult. Though the battle is far from over, today’s passion and determination has brought victory closer than ever.
The Milwaukee employment law office of Alan C. Olson and Associates has for decades been proud to stand beside and fight for victims of workplace racial discrimination. Please let us know if we can be of help to you.