Accented Racism at Work
Invited talk by Dr Vijay Ramjattan (University of Toronto)
Discussions about accent and racism in the workplace typically concern the employment discrimination faced by racialized jobseekers with non-standardized accents. The purpose of this talk is to go beyond these discussions by considering the many ways in which accent sustains different forms of workplace racism. In other words, it details how racism gets accented or reinforced through accent. Specifically focusing on speech accent and using the context of labour migration, the talk outlines three functions of accent in racial capitalist systems that require the labour of migrants and their acceptance of their alleged linguistic deficiency. First, accent acts as a labour control mechanism that pushes racialized migrants into low-paid work. Furthermore, as seen with call centre work, accent reproduces colonial relationships between migrant workers and customers. Finally, by being marketed as a credential in the labour market, accent masks institutionalized racism that hinders migrants’ job prospects. The talk concludes with some brief thoughts on how workplace racism needs to be “de-accented.”
Please register on Eventbrite by midnight the night before the talk. You will receive a Zoom link before the talk.