Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Working While Black
Working while black more often than not means being the only one that looks like you in the workplace. Working while black statistically means being paid less than non-black counterparts doing the same job and sometimes even jobs lower on the hierarchy. Working while black means code switching and constantly trying not to react to micro-aggressions and ignorance. Long story short, working while black is ALWAYS doing more than what’s in the job description.
I’ve had the opportunity to work all over the world and observe how a "professional" setting is defined in different cultures, but some things never fail.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a dozen things bosses, co-workers, and students have said to me while on the clock:
🤔 Do you wash your hair?
🤔 How do you not know where you’re from?
🤔 How do you wash your hair?
🤔 Why is the palm of your hand not the same color as the back of your hand?
🤔 Oooo, new hair. Bob Marley.
🤔 Why aren’t your lips pink like mine?
🤔 I’ve been fascinated with your hair all day. How did it get so long that fast?
🤔 Why is your skin that color?
🤔 Can I touch your hair?
🤔 Are you from Africa?
🤔 Is this your hair?
🤔 Why did you choose Tuskahgee? Tusseesie? Tuscaloosa?
Contrary to popular belief, I am not the spokesperson for black culture or dreadlocks. Describing my hair care routine or being examined like an animal in a petting zoo has NEVER been in my job description. Last, but not least, PUT SOME RESPECT ON MY UNIVERSITY. I graduated from one of the top HBCUs in one of the most historic cities in the United States. Say it right.
Working is a job, but working while black? TWO JOBS. Never make the mistake and think black people are off work. We're ALWAYS on the clock working to just exist. Oh, there's no vacation, weekends, sick days, evenings, holidays, emergency leave, or quitting either. Welcome to our world.