The American work culture is complex. For African Americans, there is a daily complexity of maneuvering racism, sexism, culturism, misconceptions, and code switching. Most work cultures are filled with white employees and Black employees are forced to adapt to the culture of working with a majority of white people.
There are some companies that have made working-while-Black a hindrance by discriminating based on a hair style or hair color of Black people. For example, a manager approaches a Black employee and tells her that her red hair color is outside of company guidelines but turns a blind eye to other employees who are white wearing red hair coloring. Also, some major brands, such as UPS, recently had bans on some African American hairstyles.
I want to see the success of Black people within companies throughout America. I want to educate white co-workers about the issues that Black people deal with at work and outside of work to make a more open and inclusive work environment. I also to educate Black people to not use being Black as a reason to limit themselves from the great opportunities available within American companies.
Many times, I have been the only Black male in the room over my 15-plus years working after college. I talked to myself early on in my career and communicated that I would not allow my life to be limited by my skin color. I wanted to make sure I understood that even though racism exists, I wanted to always put my best foot forward, and if I did not get a sale or a job, it was because I was not as prepared or the best candidate. That helped me not to lose hope as a young African American male. Working while Black has been a challenge. I have seen racism, belittling, and overlooking of African Americans. I have seen racism within the coding of terms within our computer systems where I saw the identification of Black people as "Negro."
As Black people move through their working careers, they will be better off not allowing things they cannot control to affect them. As white people continue to be the majority in the workforce, it is important for them to get to understand the Black plight in America and try to help to limit the racism in America because it will take white crusaders to continue to fight the disease of racism. Working while Black is a privilege and I enjoy every moment. I want Black people to continue to learn from their employers and create their own businesses using the knowledge they have gained working in their field.
We all need each other to be successful in our working environment, so we might as well try to get to know each other better and learn to appreciate our differences. Our differences make our businesses more successful. Let's not allow our political difference, our religious differences, our cultural difference to limit us. Let be great together.
Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co. He is also an author, his first book being "The Absent Father."