Employee Letter To Dan Goldin About Valuing of NASA Personnel

Mr. Daniel Goldin
National Aeronautic and Space Administration
Washington, DC 20546

A group of concerned African American employees deem it essential to respond to you memo dated December 30, 1996, "Valuing of NASA Personnel." First, the memo is insulting to us beacuse it sates that , "NASA has a zero tolerance for bigotry, harassment, stereotyping, and discrimination based on nonmerit factors," while all along African Americans are adversely impacted by management decisions pertaining to awards, promotions, and appraisals. Therefore, it's a different world where we come from. The memo is filled with good verbiage but it does not speak to our immediate concerns; nor does it remedy any of the problems that exist at Headquarters. If there is no disciminaiton at NASA, what is the purpose of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs? We are and have been dedicated, loyal NASA employees over the years, but we are still treated like second class citizens.

You are hosting grandstanding ceremonies that don't demonstrate substance, while employees accused of discrimination sometimes are promoted into the upper reaches of the NASA hierarchy. We are tired of the "in-your-face" management. The attitude of some of your managers towards us is, "just be glad you are not flipping burgers." Another condescending attitude we have to deal with is, "You don't need a promotion just to be grateful that you have a job". Your lack of intervention gives the apperance that you condone you managers bigotry. Besides this, we don't understand why we should have to attend mandatory "Diversity Training" because we are still subjected to crude racial slurs. For instance, after the O.J. Simpson verdict was announced and the Million Man March followed a few days later, we had to endure remarks such as "What are they coming together for? To show solidarity on how they beat and killed their wives." All during the O.J. saga, derogatory comments were made in our presence, some even by managers who are suppose to prevent such actions.

Mr. Goldin, some of us have spouses. Many of us have children that we are trying to educate. Additionally, a few of us even have mentally retarded children which means that extra money is required in order for them to have a quality life. A few of s are single parents who refuse to get on welfare but we can't continue on this path forever. Some of us have parents that we are responsible for. A loaf of bread costs the same for us as it does for you.

Maybe you are not aware of this, but a few years ago several African Americans left work on Friday and had massive heart attacks and died over the weekend. The affliction of the discrimination was just too much fo rthem to hold up under. Also, stress caused by the discrimination faced by African Ameircans has sometimes resulted in devastating health problems. The Equal Opportunity Process does not work for most of us because we can't afford competent legal counsel. Therefore, NASA prevails and it gives the apperance that your managers do not discriminate against us.

In addition, NASA has had the privalege of havign some of the best and brighttest African American employees any agency could have. Some have credentials from the best Ivy league Schools. Yet, for some reason they are not hired permanently. We conclude the reason for this is skin tone. If this happens to them, those of us who justhave undergraduate degrees know we don't stand a chance. A number of us have college degrees and are in dead-end posiitons while whites with just high school diplomas are supervisors or managers. There is just no way you can rationalize this. This is just overt racism.

These are some of the on-going discriminatory practices and plans that we perceive to be harmful to our job security as Headquarters employees.

You talk diversity but there are no African Americans in you immediate office. This is an indication that you do not practice what you preach.

It is a waste of taxpayers dollars to conduct surveys on diversity and the environment. Also, why waste time "reviewingand revalidating the NASA Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management Plan?" It was folly then and it still is. If anything, why don't you hold a meeting with us so we can tell you ourselves what the environment is like. Apparently, your managers are telling you what you want to hear, that NASA is discrimination free. According to a report submitted to Presidnet Clinton, NASA is the only one of twenty-three independent agencies where balcks are underrepresented. We obtained this data from an article inthe Wahington Post (enclosure) dated August 8, 1996. This proves what we have already knew that we are disproportionately underrepresented at NASA. The situation willbe worse if you conduct a RIF. It is unconscionable for NASA to purport diversity when Africna Americans are not adequately represented.

We believe that most of the positions in Code C are expendable. Most of the employees in that organization are African Americans. The proposal by NASA management to elimiate most of these positions is no suprise to us beacuse that removes us from the payroll. It is infuriating to us becasue management thinks that we are so stupid that we can not read between the lines.

We believe that the plan to RIF within Codes is designed to get rid of African Americans with seniority who are in lower grades. Please explain to us how you can justify firing an employee with twenty years of service as oppose to one with two or three years of service? We believe that your managers deliberately proposed this plan so that we can't bump whites with less seniority. This plan shoudl be squashed immediately.

In many of the codes, African Americans are being told that the makeup of their offices will be comprised of GS-13 and above positions.

  • submit to reddit


Battelle Research and Infrastructure.
Support SpaceRef, NASA Watch and the Astrobiology Web on Patreon.

Join our mailing list

Monthly Archives

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on January 29, 1997 12:21 PM.

Multicultural Leadership Program Training was the previous entry in this blog.

To Russia With Bucks? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.