As an African-American female graduate student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the late 1980s, Dr. Carolyn West said she was a victim of sexual harassment. It did not go on for a few months, or even a year or even two, but rather, a full three years.
The alleged perpetrator was her academic supervisor. Eventually, West found the courage to take legal action. But, she tells the NBC-affiliated online news source, TheGrio.com, she waited so long to press charges because she was worried that her supervisor and his colleagues would keep her from ever getting a job.
Sadly, sexual harassment is not as uncommon as people would like to think. The National Council for Research on Women reports that at least half of all females will experience this type of inappropriate behavior during their lives.
However, despite its prevalence, Michigan State University clinic psychologist Nicole Buchanan says that specialists who research sexual harassment have been hush-hush about this issue facing African-American females.
For women of color, Buchanan says that harassment is hardly ever about just sex. It's about race.
''Racialized sexual harassment is the way women of color are uniquely harassed in ways that combine race and gender,'' she told the news outlet.
Buchanan also reports that this type of inappropriate behavior stems from race-based beliefs.
''Sometimes [this involves] drawing on stereotypes of black women, for example, the assumption that African-American women are hyper-sexual,'' she said in an interview with the news outlet.
Whatever the color of your skin may be, sexual harassment is never acceptable. If you have been a victim at work and live in Missouri, you may benefit from a consultation with a Kansas city attorney. These experienced and locally based professionals can assess your claim, try your case in court and help you recover damages that you may be entitled to.