Last Tuesday I had a conversation with my supervisor at work. I don’t really have much to say about him, but you should know that he is a black man and a bootlicking coon. He is nice. He is educated. I hold nothing personal against the man. If he had a completely different personality than the one I’ve witnessed for the last four years (i.e., one who is apologetic for discrimination or just straight up apathetic about it) I might otherwise have a more favorable opinion of him.
I have long concluded that this is the only type of black man who succeeds in corporate America. The rest of the black men at work are either meek and gay or straight and apathetic like my supervisor. I can’t think of any who actually walk and present themselves in a self-assured dominant way like some of the white men at work. I don’t know if they are purposely submissive, but one thing is for sure after this conversation I have decided to limit my interactions with them wholesale.
The day started with my supervisor placing a mid-sized Starbucks mango smoothie on my desk. It was topped off with cream and it looked delicious. Nevertheless, I was baffled as to why he decided to buy it for me.
Me: “What’s this for?”
Supervisor: “Someone gave me a compliment about you.”
Me: (Surprised) “Really? Who?”
Supervisor: “I’m not going to tell you who, but that person approached me in our manager’s meeting. He didn’t know your name, but he said your attitude has changed. He said you’re more friendly and you’re smart.”
I stared at my manager in disbelief while thinking, “Does this dumbass nigga really think I would be pleased to receive a fucking backhanded compliment from a manager no less?”
My supervisor was completely oblivious to my reaction to his statement. He gave me a pat on the back and told me to “Keep up the good work.”
I picked up the mango smoothie and tossed it in the nearest trashcan disgusted. When I returned back to my desk I took a seat and searched my memory for any recent interactions with a member of management. He mentioned that the manager in question didn’t know my name. I knew it must have been someone who has had little to no contact with me because most people at work either know my name or at least know of me. That narrowed it down to one person…
I have a picture saved as my desktop wallpaper. The picture is of me and my dad on my fifth birthday. I’m sitting in a high chair eating cake and ice cream while my dad is bent down beside me. The picture was taken in 1990 and I faintly remember it because my dad showed up at my grandma’s house with the cake and ice cream. Anyway, the picture for me represents a simpler time when father and daughter could at least stand to be in the presence of each other.
One day a manager, who I do like, saw the picture and began teasing me about it. I laughed and joked with him while explaining the picture was taken twenty-eight years ago, but my daddy only recently cut off the long jet black jheri curl he wore in the photo. While we were laughing and clowning around another manager walked over to us and started laughing as well. This was the first and only time I’ve ever interacted with this individual outside of a courtesy “Good morning” and a head nod.
The manager in question is a large, tall, Indonesian man (though for a long time I thought he was black…but then again I’m really not sure), who I never had any reason to interact with before this interaction. Up until recently he worked on a completely different floor than me and I rarely ever saw him. So, to think that this man, who doesn’t know me, and has never had a meaningful conversation with me outside of this interaction could suddenly say to himself, “Hey….she’s not as bad as I thought” pissed me off to no end.
Just imagine being put into a box by a member of management at your job, who you have never even had a conversation with on any occasion except for a five minute chat about a picture that was taken almost three decades ago. Imagine finding out that this person has regarded you as “unfriendly” and “attitudinal” without ever having had a conversation with you.
I began to fucking steam.
When I’m at work I keep to myself. I don’t bother anyone and I talk to the same circle of people each and every day. There is nothing about this behavior that sets me apart from all the other black women who work at the company. It’s an office environment and most people have their cliques. What does set me apart from them, and this is truly what I believe bothers some people, is the way in which I carry myself.
I am a meticulous dresser. I take pride in my appearance and it shows everyday. Though this is a work causal environment I stay rocking a pressed pantsuit, pearls, pumps, and diamonds in my ears. My eyebrows are always waxed, my hair is always neat and stylish, and I always smell good. You would think this would be the norm in this type of environment but it is not. Some people truly come to work looking like they don’t give a fuck.
Despite what some of you might think, I am also a very quiet, introverted, soft-spoken, and shy woman. I do not go out of my way to socialize with people. This doesn’t mean I avoid people and conversation altogether. I’m saying that it’s rare that I initiate these things. And I guess because I don’t do these things it makes me “unfriendly” and “attitudinal” to some.
I’m willing to bet that this man already had his mind made up about me, and other black women, long before he set eyes on me. It doesn’t matter if a black woman is educated, outgoing, articulate, cultured or anything else. Like a lot of people he automatically judges black women simply because we’re black. He thinks of us like this…
What’s concerning to me is this isn’t some no power having associate at the company. This is a member of management pre-judging me for no reason. How many promotion committees did he sit on where my name was brushed aside because he…and maybe others…thought I was “unfriendly?” This is why it’s time for me to get the hell out of the rat race. No matter how hard a black woman works not to be ghetto, uneducated, ugly, and a babymama that’s all the world seems to see.