August 10, 2009

Hate stares for Indian job-seekers

In correspondent Melvin Martin's latest essay on racism in Rapid City, he shares the story of a job applicant named "November Rose":

Melvin Martin:  Diplomas and dog faces in Rapid CityI moved to Rapid City from California in 2000 with my mother and my son. I looked for work as soon as we arrived there. I am a high school graduate with a two-year degree in Office Technology and I also have over twenty years office experience. I´ve worked for the Los Angeles County Library system, private doctors, and temporary office assignments through Kelly Girl Services and other temp agencies in Southern California. I have excellent and verifiable references on all of the jobs that I´ve held. So, when I moved to Rapid City, I thought I would have no problems whatsoever finding work.

However, that wasn't to be the case. I had my resume' in order and applied at various offices and libraries. I guess I was able to get interviews because my last name is of Spanish origin and I don't have the typical "Rez Indian" accent. But when I met several employers I was told I didn't have enough experience or was told the job was already filled. I lived in San Diego and Los Angeles and never once had any problems finding work. I did notice right away that all the office staff at these businesses where I applied were Caucasian.
And:One thing I never came across in my life until I moved to Rapid City was the "hate stare." I lived in Florida as a child when my dad was in the Air Force and I remember black people talking about the "hate stare." This stare was directed at me everywhere I went in Rapid City, but especially at interviews from non-Indians in office settings. I asked Indians I met about why they stared so much like that and to a person they all replied it´s because they really hate Indians here and they always have.

I also noticed that there were many clean-cut, well-qualified Indian males who also applied for work at the same company where I was hired, but they were not hired as I noticed that the assembly employees were all women. On my second day on the job an Indian woman came up to me on break and we became fast friends. I soon realized why. We were the only two Indian women working there on our shift and there were two other groups of Caucasian and Korean women. No black people were working there at all, although there were several who applied when I did. Fights broke out on almost a daily basis between the whites and Koreans. The white women were so hateful and jealous towards these gentle, soft-spoken, hospitable people. I ended up leaving Rapid City for good as I realized that as an Indian person, any employment and career opportunities there are extremely limited.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Money Talks in Rapid City and One Incident/Week in Rapid City?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although, I never set foot in Rapid City. But its not hard imagining myself living there either, given the racial tensions it is known to suffice between whites and non-whites. I'm willing to believe that Rapid City will probably be one of the last places to get over its racist mentality regarding Indians. I don't know of any other major town or city with this level of anti-indian sentiment. But its gotta be the worst place to live as an indian.