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January 29, 2008

Why do some people discriminate against their own race?

Filed under: Race and Identity,Racism — Tags: , , — Catherine @ 4:19 pm

From Race In The Workplace:

We’re used to thinking of racial discrimination as something that occurs between people from different racial groups.

But is it possible for a person to engage in racial discrimination against a coworker of his own race? It’s not as common, but it can happen. I recently spoke to the restaurant industry trade publication QSR on this topic.

So, what would possibly cause a person to engage in same-race discrimination?

1. They buy into negative stereotypes about their own race

All of us have been inundated throughout our lives with racist stereotypes perpetuated by the media and other social institutions. It’s impossible not to have internalized some of these racist beliefs — even those about our own racial group.

But some folks have internalized these negative beliefs to a far greater degree than others, turning these beliefs into outright racial self-hatred. These people genuinely believe negative stereotypes about their own race, and this leads them to discriminate against those like themselves.

2. They think it’s a good career move

If you can’t beat’em, join’em, as the cliché goes. In a workplace where people of a certain racial group are already being discriminated against, joining in the discrimination could be seen by some as a way to climb the corporate ladder:

Van Kerckhove says some instigators might also see race-on-race harassment as a way to politically advance themselves in the company, but that racial discrimination—even if it’s inadvertent—has to be present initially.

“That could happen in a workplace where there already is racial discrimination”

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