Racism and Paid Work


117 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55193-000-5
DDC 331.13'3





Reviewed by Shelley Butler

Shelley Butler is a PhD candidate in anthropology at York University
studying cultural politics at the University of Cape Town in South


Racism and Paid Work explores multiple ways in which management
practices produce systemic racism through differential treatment of
workers. These include such strategies as excessive monitoring of
visible minorities, unfair work allocation, underemployment, tokenism,
and co-optation. A fascinating contrast emerges between the garment
industry and the nursing profession. While the former is characterized
by low wages and a lack of union protection, the latter is relatively
well-paid and unionized. Yet, racial discrimination occurs in both of
these sectors. Thus, even in the highly regulated field of nursing, the
author finds inconsistent management practices and discretionary uses of

An innovative aspect of this study is its focus on anti-Chinese and
anti-Black racism. Chinese women workers are often viewed by employers
as passive and compliant foreigners who do not speak English. Such
stereotypes rationalize the exploitation of these women as homeworkers.
In contrast, Black women are often viewed as being insubordinate and
aggressive, a stereotype that enables employers to dismiss complaints of
unfair treatment. Das Gupta situates these forms of racism in the
context of legacies of slavery, colonialism, and orientalism. While this
analysis is potentially very compelling, it is presented in a rather
schematic fashion, so that readers who are not sympathetic to the
author’s viewpoint will likely remain unmoved. The concluding chapter
on resisting racism in the workplace is also disappointingly sketchy.


Das Gupta, Tania., “Racism and Paid Work,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4588.