From Volume 86, Number 5 (July 2013)
Almost everyone in the United States is likely to experience or have experienced racial emotion in the workplace. One person feels uncomfortable making conversation with her coworkers of a different race for fear that she will use the wrong name or say something that is perceived as biased or offensive; another is anxious that his colleague will judge him as less intelligent than the whites on his team. One feels anger at the telling or emailing of a racial joke; another feels frustrated when a colleague raises concerns about bias during a postinterview debriefing. These emotions—and the behaviors that give rise to them and respond to them—are sometimes difficult to describe. We lack a language of racial emotion in the workplace, in no small part because many of us (especially whites) prefer not to see it. But racial emotion does exist, and we ignore it to the detriment not only of our individual relationships, but also of our visions and efforts for equality.