Conclusion and Summary of Results
The focus of this study was to explore a Black woman’s resiliency after her exposure to a physiological and psychological toxic work environment. The work environment surrounding an African-American woman can often be a source of distress because of the way her colleagues and others treat her. For example, many Black women are treated as if they are a stereotype; a caricature of what people assume is a “black woman.” Micro-aggressions experienced each day become magnified as emotional assaults on the woman increase; or, as her ability to deflect the inappropriate behavior decreases or as the intensity of both becomes greater. The stereotyping and micro-aggressions caused destructive feelings in the subject of this case study, which exhibited themselves as isolation, oppression, and shame. This trio of feelings caused a feeling of disconnectedness, which somewhat ironically created both negative and positive factors. The subject’s natural resiliency was sustained mainly by two main personality character factors: control and passion.
In this case study, the internal control of self was identified as the most important early survival adaption. In childhood, both negative and positive aspects of Control were demonstrated, but the results demonstrated that the positive aspects increased as the negative aspects decreased. In the final analysis, the results showed that the ability of Control became highly developed in the subject and aided her future life successes. This ability for control of self, self-discipline, and Control gave her a necessary positive strategy to use as she matured. She developed her control-of-self so she had a personal strategy to her aid in personal problem solving. Whereas on the other hand, violence was a tool that was learned and served her well at a young age as a survival technique, she was able to shed the impulse to use violence as her life’s environment changed. The subject developed new methods and tools for facing dilemmas rather than resorting to violence.
Unfortunately, in the situation of the toxic work environment this particular skill of control of self had self-defeating results. She was convinced she must practice control of self and stay at a job which was a highly negatively charged environment. Yet, she forgot to take into account the effect on her health. Perhaps, if she could have seen her good health and her financial contributions to the family as both equally important goals she could have left the toxic employment as soon as she realized the difficulties of the situation. Finally, the researcher comes to understand that the subject’s passion coupled with her resiliency could have been predicted to aid her future successes. This included the terrible situation at work because although she tolerated the terrible treatment on-the-job she searched for someone to support her and validate her feelings. The search was not easy, but she did not give up until she found the professional and expert validation she felt she needed at the time. In this case study the three major resulting effects from a toxic work environment were found to be control, passion and disconnectedness. Here they will be discussed in greater detail.
There has been research conducted on African-American women and the reasons they have ‘silenced voices’ even when faced with the enormity of both racism and sexism at work. Jones (2003) explained that Black women’s silenced voices result from relationships that had caused disillusionment leading to isolation, disconnection, and distress during their childhood or youth. One such place has been church, but Jones’ research used women attending the Protestant Black churches as subjects. In this case study the subject was trained in the Catholic religion and felt that her faith was very important to her and necessary to sustain her through her life’s challenges. Jones’ research is still important for informing this case study because of the general insights of cultural challenges that African-American women face in black communities. Regardless of whether or not the religion is Catholic or Protestant, strong religious faith leads to resiliency. The subject’s life is a case in point. Although the subject felt varying degrees of disconnectedness throughout her life development she always had a consistent connection with her faith.
The seeming paradoxes between African-American culture and religious faith lend understanding to the complexity of cultural and relationship experiences throughout a whole lifetime. Relational-Cultural Therapy (RCT) the use of RCT is especially helpful in defining and understanding these complexities in an individual and in societies.
(Relational-Cultural Therapy) . . . sees connection as the primary ongoing organizer and source of motivation in people’s lives that transforms the work of socialization into assisting our children to develop relational skills and elaborating the possibility for mutuality in relationships. It furthermore calls attention to the need to alter the sociopolitical forces of disconnection that create significant pain for people. (Jordan, 2010, p. 1)
This is significant because the continued silence of Black women negatively impacts their overall health ranging from less dangerous symptoms such as fatigue to very serious disease such as cancer. When an African-American woman has an outlet to share her experiences in a therapeutic setting or in research such as this, patterns of experiences can be uncovered such as those learned during childhood which can repeat during a woman’s professional adulthood. The subject of this research in her very early life had a stable and happy life which may have also predicted her ability to mature, continue her learning, and meet her dearest life goals such as having her own family.
The Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) relationship delineates meaning from the isolation, disconnection, and shame as experienced through the subject’s life phases. The descriptive account of suffering physiological and psychological pain during the life phases suggests an arresting of human development. In the subject’s case, the arrest of her development began in childhood and within the Black community where (and when) she learned self-imposed isolation to manage disconnectedness and shame from authority and demeaning insults. However, her resilience developed into helping relationships that reciprocated emotional healing and posttraumatic growth.
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Appendix A.Raw Data Themes in Reference to the
OUTCOME: LIFE SKILL DEVELOPMENT
Appendix B. Raw Data Themes in Reference to the
Appendix C. Raw Data Themes in Reference to the
OUTCOME: COMMUNITY SERVICE
Appendix D. Raw Data Themes in Reference to the
INFLUENCE: PLAY IT SMART (PIS) ACADEMIC COACH