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Black women face double threat; sexual harassment, racism

Sexual harassment can be challenging for anyone. For black women, sexual harassment may be exacerbated by being combined with racism. Some experts believe the combination of gender and race mix to create a double dilemma for female black employees in California and everywhere else in the U.S.

The media brought the sexual harassment and color issues into stark focus recently when a black NBA security official claimed her supervisor retaliated against her after she denied his sexual advances. She claims the supervisor had her taken off an assignment to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She also claims that she was systematically paid less than her male counterparts due to her gender. Her supervisor claims that the allegations are completely false.

Regardless of the final ruling in the case, this incident reflects that sexual harassment is still prevalent in the workplace at all levels. According to the National Council for Research on Women at least half of all women are expected to experience sexual harassment at some point in their lives.

This statistic becomes of greater concern in light of the fact that black women are usually faced with simultaneous sexism and racism. Experts believe that sexual harassment and racism represent intertwined cultural attitudes. They suggest that this could stem from adherence to outrageous stereotypes that African-American women are hypersexual.

When a supervisor in California or anywhere else commits sexual harassment in the workplace, he or she could face a civil suit if the victim decides to pursue the case. Additionally, the victim may also include allegations of racial discrimination if the victim feels he or she was discriminated against on the basis of race.

Source: The Grio, "Is sexual harassment different from the perspective of black women?," Kunbi Tinuoye, June 22, 2012

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