Racial Tensions and Workplace Inequalities at a Community Clinic in El Nuevo South
Deeb-Sossa argues persuasively that “moral identities” have been constructed by clinic staff. The high-status staff—nearly all of whom are white—see themselves as heroic workers. Mid- and lower-status Latina staff feel like they are guardians of people who are especially needy and deserving of protection. In contrast, the moral identity of African American staffers had previously been established in response to serving “their people.” Their response to the evolving clientele has been to create a self-image of superiority by characterizing Latina/o clients as “immoral,” “lazy,” “working the system,” having no regard for rules or discipline, and being irresponsible parents.
All of the health-care workers want to be seen as “doing good.” But they fail to see how, in constructing and maintaining their own moral identity in response to their personal views and stereotypes, they have come to treat each other and their clients in ways that contradict their ideals.
"The analysis is well supported with qualitative and demographic evidence. I expect others will find this analysis fresh and useful as they think about the consequences of 'Latinization' in other regions and how staff accommodate a different clientele."—Patricia Zavella, author of I'm Neither Here nor There: Mexicans’ Quotidian Struggles with Migration and Poverty