Washington, Aug 4 : A new research has shown that black professionals make extra efforts in their workplaces to fulfill what they believe are the expectations of their white colleagues.
According to sociologists Marlese Durr of Wright State University and Adia Harvey Wingfield of Georgia State University, black professionals engage in two types of 'emotional performance' in the workplace: General etiquette and racialized emotion maintenance.
"Our analysis of these aspects of workplace behaviour reveals that women and men co-mingle etiquette and emotion maintenance to be accepted in the workplace and to fit white expectations," Durr said.
"This emotional overtime in the workplace strengthens race/ethnic group solidarity," Durr added.
Whether it's stressful, inauthentic or downright draining, Durr claims that emotional labour is "a crucial part of black women's self-presentation in work and social public spaces."
These efforts to fit in can, in effect, make African American women feel isolated, alienated, and frustrated.
Durr and Wingfield have illustrated emotional labour as performance with a quote from an African American woman, who says of her workplace peers: "They...are careful to remember...'that's not professional. Remember they got the s[hit] that'll get you bit! Keep your Negro in check! Don't let it jump up and show anger, disapproval, or difference of opinion. They have to like you and think that you are as close to them as possible in thought, ideas, dress and behaviour.'"
The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).