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Monday, August 4, 2008

Black Women "Emotionally Labor" At Work? - "Keep Your 'N' in Check" Study

We have another "revelatory" study on Black women. At least it isn't declaring how diseased we are like the last few rounds. This one is supposed to have findings that I do believe Dubois pointed out about a kazillion years ago. But anyway, PhDs gotta earn a living. Apparently Black women feel extra special stress at work trying to conform.

Black professionals make extra efforts in the workplace to fulfill what they believe are the expectations of their white colleagues, according to research to be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

Sociologists Marlese Durr of Wright State University and her co-author Adia Harvey Wingfield of Georgia State University argue that black professionals engage in two types of "emotional performance" in the workplace: General etiquette and racialized emotion maintenance.

"Our analysis of these aspects of workplace behavior reveals that women and men co-mingle etiquette and emotion maintenance to be accepted in the workplace and to fit white expectations," said Durr. "This emotional overtime in the workplace strengthens race/ethnic group solidarity."

Whether it's stressful, inauthentic or downright draining, Durr claims that emotional labor is "a crucial part of black women's self-presentation in work and social public spaces." These efforts to fit in can, in effect, make African American women feel isolated, alienated, and frustrated. SOURCE

Oh, and they couldn't have found a more "professional" way to state the following in their press release
Durr and Wingfield illustrate emotional labor as performance with a quote from an African American woman who says of her workplace peers, "They…are careful to remember…'that's not professional. Remember they got the s[hit] that'll get you bit! Keep your Negro in check! Don't let it jump up and show anger, disapproval, or difference of opinion. They have to like you and think that you are as close to them as possible in thought, ideas, dress and behavior.'" SOURCE

Is it lost on anyone that a study about professionalism at work is entitled "Keep Your N in Check"?? Anybody else see an irony or paradox or whatever? This is stereotyping I don't care what y'all say in the comments. We aren't some our of control beasts who don't know how to behave. That isn't where the stress comes from.

This study implies that we inherently don't know how to act in the workplace and it is extra taxing on us. It fails to acknowledge that we often can engage in the same behavior and conduct as their coworkers and have that behavior viewed through a completely different lens.

Next week I am going to do a study to see if Black women spend entirely too much time in the beauty salon or some other revelatory investigation.