By Esther Gicharu | Thursday May 28, 2020
The recent brutal killing of George Floyd is outrageous and painful to say the least.. I could not comprehend how a law enforcement officer would crush his airway while a helpless George begged for his life. It provoked me to think of our workplaces safety especially where there are race diversities and the repercussions racism in a workplace could impact Health and Safety. At a workplace, this conversation could be hard for either sides. For the employee, the challenges of raising it, is that it could lead to a job loss. An employee would prefer to bear it all and retain the much needed income at the expense of his health or life.
Coming closer home, we have foreign owned multinationals, some of these companies set up camp here in Kenya to exploit affordable black labor, hiding under the backdrop of opportunities for all. Here is a recap on the case of slavery and colonialism. People of color were used for hard labor as they would withstand harsh working conditions. If this mentality is still engraved on our foreheads, it should occur as no surprise why it is an issue of workplace safety and health. If we overwork a certain race just because of a false ideology, we not only add to social injustices but increase chances of workplace accidents, short and long term health problems. An overworked person working with machines becomes a health hazard to himself and colleagues. Moreover, evidence has it that reoccurring exposure to racism has serious negative long-term effects on people’s mental health.
Though there are existing legislation to protect employees, they should be effectively monitored and enforced. Awareness should be created in a race diverse environment that it is essentially the right of every worker despite their color to deserve a better working environment. It’s a high time the society puts a knee jerk on the neck of this racism monster, blocking its airway till it dies.