A Course on Emotional Tax and Racism: 6 Perspectives (Blog Post)
Catalyst regularly designs online workshops and courses. But Catalyst’s new edX course, “Facing Racism and Emotional Tax in the Workplace,” was an especially meaningful experience for the employees who produced it.
The course is designed to help learners understand the impact of racism and some strategies to address racial discrimination in the workplace. It draws upon Catalyst’s landmark research on Emotional Tax, which is a person’s experience of being on guard to protect against racial, ethnic, or gender bias and experiencing the associated effects on well-being and ability to thrive at work. The issues of racism and emotional tax in the workplace, always urgent and relevant, are on many people’s minds in the wake of the horrific Atlanta murders in March 2021, which included six Asian and Asian American women.
For Catalyst employees, developing the course was a consequential experience. Below, they explain and tell why the course is such a powerful tool for employers.
Tenika Francis, Senior Director, Human Resources
“I was extremely honored for the opportunity to participate in such an impactful project. I knew that being a course instructor would provide me with the lens I needed to digest different perspectives about racism and the trauma it has on BIPOC, like myself, and those who are not. I had no idea of the journey it would take me through personally in realizing and validating how important it is to always bring your authentic self to work despite the odds. No one knows everything and we all need this course to really understand the steps needed to defeat systemic racism, globally.”
Sunita Mahtani, Director, Corporate Engagement
“At Catalyst, I have the distinct opportunity to collaborate with corporations, higher education institutions, and nonprofits, and, despite being from different industries, the experiences with racism they’ve shared with me are universal. The takeaways from developing this course were also universal–that it is imperative to invest time into building relationships that foster empathy and curiosity in order to take action to be an active ally towards true racial equity and real change.”
Julie Friedberg, Senior Director, Learning Design & Delivery
“As a White person, I feel it is incumbent upon me to help dismantle historically rooted systems of power that have benefited White people and hurt people of color. This course gave me the opportunity to do this work and show up as an active ally. Being an ally means, first and foremost, taking a hard look at myself and my biases and acknowledging my own privilege as a White person. It also means listening to and seeking to understand peoples’ stories, connecting across differences, and using my privilege to advocate for racial equity, inclusion, and justice. I hope this course will inspire others to do the same.”
Andrea Tatum, Senior Director of Corporate Engagement, Western Region
“I decided I wanted to work at Catalyst after reading the Day-to-Day Experiences of Emotional Tax Among Women and Men of Color in the Workplace report. As a Black woman married to a Black man, race and racism are ever present in my life and this research validated and gave language to my lived experiences. So when I was asked if I would be willing to be a facilitator in Catalyst’s new course: Facing Racism and Emotional Tax in the Workplace, I knew I wanted to be able to share my story, help other people understand the impacts of day-to-day racism, and provide tools for leaders and allies to help mitigate this experience for people of color.”
Ashley Rivenbark, Senior Associate, Leading for Equity and Inclusion and program manager, CatalystX
“Assembling a diverse team from the start was critical. The various perspectives and experiences of these team members helped us develop a course that fosters a foundational awareness of how to connect across differences and take action to dismantle bias in the workplace and beyond. Personally, I’m excited for the exploratory journey that learners will embark on.”
Dr. Terrence Underwood, Vice President, Leading for Equity and Inclusion
“Racial unrest is the word duo of 2020 and 2021. When I received the chance to participate in a project that allowed me to interrupt the racial unrest that so many BIPOC are experiencing, I jumped at the opportunity. Contributing to the course creation, I was able to reflect on my experience navigating race in the workplace while managing my emotional tax. But the best part of being on this project was thinking about the lives we get to touch and hopefully enhance from this experience.”
“Facing Racism and Emotional Tax in the Workplace” is a one-hour introductory course. It is one of four courses in the Catalyst Professional Certificate in Race, Gender, and Workplace Equity. Learn more about professional certificates and individual courses offered by CatalystX.
Catalyst stands in solidarity with the AAPI community and condemns all acts of racism, misogyny, and bias. We remain committed to cultivating more inclusive environments both inside and outside of the workplace.