Are Whites Afraid to Communicate With Blacks at Work?

Question: I've joined a new company in May 2006. All of my coworkers are white. I find it very difficult to build a working relationships with them. I often wonder is it my race (black). Do you think whites feel afraid to communicate with blacks on a professional level?


Question:

I've joined a new company. All of my coworkers are white. I find it very difficult to build a working relationships with them. I often wonder is it my race (black). Do you think whites feel afraid to communicate with blacks on a professional level? In many cases I feel I can't be myself in order to fit in with the culture of the department.  One of the coworkers just said "Hi" to me for the first time. I usually say "Hi" to the person first, but I never hear a response from this person. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Answer:

I would say yes, there is "something wrong with this picture," and yes, many whites are afraid (apprehensive/intimidated) to communicate with blacks on a professional basis.

But this isn't the case in every workplace. Please consider where you're working and if you can improve that situation. Is there a potential mentor you can reach out to?

Part of white culture in some workplaces is to be cold to everyone. I've yet to experience another culture where this is true. In my opinion, this is another good reason to work in a diverse environment.

Luke Visconti's Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

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