There’s a lot of talk about “white privilege” these days, but many white American workers are certainly not feeling like they have a fair shot on the job in recent years, much less a so-called advantage. In fact, some are even being told directly that they’re being passed over for a job or promotion because of their skin color.
News anchor Elex Michaelson recently shared how he was passed over for a job for being a white man by ABC News Senior Vice President Barbara Fedida.
He tweeted: “In 2017, ABC7 recommended I become a network correspondent. Barbara Fedida told me: ‘You’re qualified. But you’re a white male & my bosses told me I can only hire women & minorities for the next couple years.’”
He said he was shocked by her “blunt words” and felt “powerless,” but he never complained or sued because he was worried about being blackballed in the industry. He did, however, leave the company shortly thereafter.
He said: “My hope in sharing this is to show support for the victims of racism at ABC News. I also hope, going forward, this culture where race is so cavalierly & crudely discussed by executives with hiring & firing power…is over.”
He was inspired to speak out following a report by Yashar Ali of Huffington Post detailing Fedida’s treatment of black journalists at ABC News.
Sources told Ali that Fedida’s misconduct has cost the network millions of dollars in confidential settlements with former staff and talent, with at least one settlement coming about due to allegations of racial discrimination. After the report, she was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Michaelson is far from the only person to experience this type of discrimination. A survey by Pew Research Center on diversity in the technology and science fields found that of nearly one fifth of those who said race made their job more difficult said they had been affected by reverse discrimination.
Last year, Microsoft employees complained on an internal message board that pro-diversity hiring at the company is unfair to white men. One employee wrote in a post: “Does Microsoft have any plans to end the current policy that financially incentivizes discriminatory hiring practices? To be clear, I am referring to the fact that senior leadership is awarded more money if they discriminate against Asians and white men.”
Meanwhile, three employees of the New York Department of Education filed a lawsuit that claimed they were demoted from their jobs because they are white.
Earlier this year, a group of 24 white lieutenants for the Cleveland Fire Department said in a lawsuit that department officials favored black candidates over white ones for promotion to captain. The lawsuit said that 57 percent of the black candidates who completed the captain’s exam were promoted; the same was true for just 26 percent of white candidates.
And let’s not even get started on the people who are losing their jobs for not supporting Black Lives Matters. A UCLA professor was placed on leave after he refused to cancel a final exam in the wake of George Floyd’s death, while Philadelphia Inquirer editor Stan Wischnowski was forced to resign after using the headline “Buildings Matter, Too” in an architecture column after some local buildings had been destroyed by rioters. Both are white men.
Unfortunately, many people who are victims of this type of discrimination are unwilling to speak out about it because they don’t want to burn any bridges as they continue to pursue job advancement. It’s a problem we are only likely to see more of moving forward as the knee-jerk reaction to one white police officer killing a black man has seen businesses desperate not to be perceived as favoring whites in any way, shape or form.
Racism is bad – unless it’s directed at white people, in which case it’s apparently perfectly okay in today’s America.
Sources for this article include: