jim crow jumped out at general motors
January 18, 2019
One noose would seem like plenty of evidence to conclude that a workplace is a racist, toxic hell-hole but for the Black workers of General Motors, the tally has reached five. According to CNN, 8 Black General Motors employees are now suing the car manufacturer, specifically managers at the Toledo Powertrain Station for being willfully ignorant about a racially antagonistic environment that included bold uses of the n-word, “whites only” signs and multiple reports of nooses being hung near the working spaces of Black employees and supervisors.
A Black supervisor even had a white subordinate threaten to swing a wrench at him when the employee wasn’t happy with a ruling regarding time-off. Forgive me if “hostile work environment” doesn’t quite cover employees displaying rage that puts you one swing away from possibly permanent lights-out. Hostile will never carry the weight of Black workers being warned that a white coworker’s father was in Ku Klux Klan. When subordinates complain about the harassment, their complaints are brushed off. When Black supervisors complain, they’re told to deal with the situation themselves.
When the Ohio Civil Rights Commission was brought in, director of regional operations Darlene Sweeney-Newbern said that the Toledo Powertrain station displayed some of the worst cases of racism that her team has ever seen. One former supervisor even said in his testimony, “There was never a Black person who was lynched that didn’t deserve it.” I’m more tired than shocked because it’s very likely that a Black employee came to this man with a racism-related grievance and that employee had to endure whatever apologists bullshit this waste-of-space had to offer.
The unions that are supposed to protect employees have not found a basis for discrimination in the sea of nooses Black workers have been collecting. UAW local president Dennis Earl said: “Union people protect employees no matter what race, ethnicity,” which is ‘white speak’ for I don’t see color and thus refuse to acknowledge the hardships your race exposes you to in a racist environment. It’s clear that white people aren’t listening when Black people speak because a lot of them are still calling themselves colorblind, with pride, as if that is supposed to excuse the Jim Crow conditions.
Companies as big as General Motors have too much power and capital to face any real repercussions but its a new year so anything is possible. It’s only logical to assume that General Motors is owned and run by racists if supervisors (former and otherwise) to actively defend the racism running rampant. I hope that the Black employees that had to face a battle-like work environment are awarded with all that is due to them and I hope that number hurts General Motors. Who knows whether it’ll be big enough to dent anything but even Goliath got his karma eventually.
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