Photo by Calvin Ma on Unsplash
Working in the corporate sector as a black person and as a woman has its shared lists of concerns, and society produced insecurities. I constantly feel as if I’m judged outside of my work-related attributes.
Perspective Employer: “Gabrielle, how are you today? Tell us about yourself *smiles*?"
My voice: “Well, my name is Gabrielle *laughs* I’m very responsible and hardworking. I’m a team player and a great motivator. I have an extremely high capacity; therefore can handle anything you put on my plate. Very agreeable; therefore, I have an amazing ability to persuade when needed.”
My thoughts: "What do my heels say? Does this dress show that I’ve been genetically blessed with a rump that’s larger than the rest of my body? Do I now look "too" black? Will my vernacular come off as uneducated? I probably should have straightened my hair today."
As a black woman, on the one hand, I feel as if I have to prove my actual level of intelligence. On the other hand, I feel as if my loyalty is being questioned. I can never win. I have to somehow attempt to make decisions that appease everyone.
I feel as though I have to...ride the fence.
Damn, I despise people that ride the fence, and yet here I am! Most noticeably, this contemplation leaves me alone with not a single ally in the building.
Will my attire come off as too ethnic? What about my hair, is it "super" black today? Will I still be perceived as a professional with an “untamed” afro? I hate having to contemplate these things. Deep down in my soul, I’m an afro loving, incense burning, non-shaving badass, but society won’t let me be great! I have to walk on eggshells, be on the extreme end of political correctness, and hide my heritage. Hide myself.
As a woman, I am perceived as emotional. As a black woman, this emotion can be regarded as angry.
As a woman, I am perceived as being less educated. As a black woman, I think people may actually think I’m illiterate.
As a woman, I’m perceived as being less qualified to lead. As a black woman, I don’t have a seat at the table.
Last week we focused on faith and patience. Continuing with that faith and patience, we are going to be brave and move forward authentically. We aren’t allowing the insecurities of others to dictate our existence.
Making adjustments to assist in another’s insecurities with your gender and race is only adding to the underlying racism in today’s society. Make people accept you in all your glory. If you don’t care to shave, boo don’t!! If you want to wear long European tresses that didn’t come from your scalp, do it! If you want to wear an afro and give everyone a black power fist throughout the day, go for it! If you like to do it all...this is most of us because we aren’t singular individuals, then do it boo! Be yourself! Don’t ride the fence!
Learn to be proud of all of your beautiful differences. Don’t be afraid to share and direct when appropriate. Teach these people something. You may be their only guiding light. In a considerate and educative way, let them know what’s appropriate and what’s not. What you accept and what you don’t. Be Proud of your culture and heritage. Be proud of you and your roots. Don’t ride the fence.
Don’t be ashamed of your history. Yes, your family has slave descendants. This goes to show how amazing and strong you are as a people! Yes, your hair has curls and coils...it’s your crown. Yep, you’re a beautiful brown baby. Yes, you have some sass because you grew up listening to Juvenile. And yep, you know how to back that ass up! It’s ok, it’s good, be open, and share it. Don’t ride the fence.
This was honestly the best advice I received as a new supervisor years ago. It’s normal to play a role/person you’ve seen in the past. Push yourself to be authentically you. Allow others the opportunity to adjust in your beautiful graces. It’s important to remember that this does not solely include outward appearance. If you’re reserved by nature, be a silent assassin. If you’re an extrovert, be that person and let others quiver in fear. Let others adjust to you. Don’t ride the fence!!
I’m excited about this, can you tell? A bunch of women just being their bad-ass selves just the way they are: each and every damn day.
Boss Mom Gabby 💋
You can get to know her more as a contributing writer by visiting her Boss Mom Magic site at www.bossmommagic.com
IG Handle - @bossmommagic