Well I'm not, there are quite a few of us actually but I thought it was a good title.
So you have graduated and finally got your first office job. Or like me you dropped out, needed a job and this just happened to come your way. Either way congrats! You are one step closer to being an adult and have entered the real world.
We are always told that the ONE real struggle for black women in the work place is the gender pay gap. Having been in my current role for over a year, I can tell you that they forget to mention the race pay gap, your appearance, socialising, progression and so much more.
I used to do hair so I have tons and tons of wigs, which means I like to change my hair regularly. My co-workers always compliment me and tell me how they wish they could change their hair as often as me. I have worn my natural hair to work on a few occasions, but as it was then relaxed and up in a bun no-one really said much. However, on two occasions colleagues of mine have worn their beautiful 4B curls out and did not get the same reception.
I remember one particular conversation went a little like this:
A: 'Is that your actual hair?'
A: 'In future I'd like if you informed me of such drastic changes, I preferred your other hair.'
Her other hair was a curly wig with a curl pattern similar to 3B or as some would say 'mixed race' hair.
My colleague looked at me and rolled her eyes to the heavens as I side eyed. The thing that frustrated us even more is that this member of staff thought they are being hilarious and asked another none black member of staff if they liked her hair. And for those of you wondering how she had styled it, her hair packed in a very neat bun which looked far from unprofessional.
Another woman decided to wear an afro as opposed to her straight wig, upon her leaving the room someone shouted 'Where has Side Show Bob's sister gone?'' May I also add that her hair is in a very neat symmetrical afro, not one that needed to be combed out or patted down. People will often insult or fear what they do not posses or understand. Some may think I am over reacting but comparing my hair to that of a clown who has a thing for killing people is not a compliment.
I have found that if you express your dislike for such statements or do not laugh along, you are often labelled 'over emotional' 'too politically correct' or worst of all 'an angry black woman' then the whispering behind your back starts.
Other microagrssions or comments I have come across are:
'So..is it black or afro -carribbean?' Thanks for asking but considering the persons age, its about 40 years too late! Why has it taken you all these years to ask a black person what they prefer to be called? Why don't you tell me what you call us away from work and I'll correct that.
Hearing 'Right on sister!'' made me shudder when it first heard it. Why not just call me by my name, please.
'I got so dark on holiday, I'm almost your colour!'' *sticks arms out next to yours* I have no words for this one.
Saying that a mixed race child is doomed because he/she has her black father's wide nose.
And finally 'I'm like a black girl, I slap on that cream as soon as I get out of the shower' were you expecting a medal for this one or? I could go on but we would be here all day.
In African and Caribbean culture despite peoples love for gossip, you are told to mind your own business. It may not be because of this but I have found that a lot of the black people I know will keep quiet at work. I for one do this and have found that you are quickly labelled 'anti social', 'rude' or have some sort of 'attitude'. Because of this, socialising was very weird for me. I remeber a night out when people that had been 'afraid' to speak to me because of my straight face were suddenly confessing their love for black people, showing me how good they could whine and had black friends outside work. Someone even went as far as to say they were a coconut, at that point I left and that was the last time I attended a work night out.
Please do not mistake for a hate post, it is simply the reality of microagressions and sometimes blatant racism in the work place. I've seen many a person adopt the 'grin and bare it' mentality but trust me, there is only so long you can keep that eye roll in or laugh at their crude jokes before you blow.