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News Analysis Jan 10, 2022 2:55 PM EST

'Experts' tell CBC that working from home protects POC from casual racism

Expert Colleen James says that policies need to be put into place that protect people from microaggressions.

'Experts' tell CBC that working from home protects POC from casual racism
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

The CBC and their team of experts are urging employers to "do better" after interviewing a woman who says that working from home protects her from office microaggressions.

The CBC describes microaggressions as the "intentional or unintentional discriminatory or derogatory remarks or behaviours," something that Alexandra Joseph of Kitchener, Ontario, says she has been shielded from thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and working from home.

"It's a peaceful, safe place and you don't hear the background noise," Joseph told the CBC, who is glad she no longer has to "deal with" people microaggressing her through behaviours such as comments about her hair.

Expert Colleen James, founder and principal consultant at Divonify, a Kitchener-based equity and inclusion consulting firm, told the CBC that employees should be "allowed to work from home while workplaces deal with microaggressions in the workplace."

"It is a safer space because we can be our authentic self," though she warns that people of colour are still vulnerable to microaggressions, remotely.
James cites something called "racial battle fatigue," that is, essentially, losing the will to stand up for yourself because you've been microaggressed so microaggressively.

"We're constantly on guard. We're constantly protecting ourselves," she said, "It's like going into battle almost because it has such a huge psychological effect on our mental health and even physical health."

To remedy this plague, James says that policies need to be put into place that protect people from microaggressions.

"So that, you know, when things do happen and things are reported, there is something to say: 'No, the company said there is zero tolerance for microaggressions, for discrimination,'" she said.

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