How To: Navigating White Foolishness at Work
Many of my friends and family that sit at a desk and type fast for a living are one of few or the only person of color in their office. Being one of few or the only melanin baring person within the office brings on a number of struggles. One of the many struggles we face includes deciding how badly you need to pay your rent when the wypipo decide they want to engage in racist word vomit. Some of us deal with ignorant White people all day long while others of us may only deal with the ignorance once a week. Either way, the ignorance is dealt with.
Upon hearing some fuckshit, many of our instincts call for a cussin’ out. However, when your rent is due, cussin’ out your HR manager for touching your hair might not be the correct decision. In the Bible, there is a scripture that mentions something about there being an appropriate time and place for everything in life. That being said, feel free to cuss out the White hoe on the train that thinks she can touch your fro on the sly because it’s a crowded train and she didn’t think anyone, including you, would notice her subtle caress of your naps. However, restraint is needed in the workplace.
Not restraint in the sense of not saying anything at all, but the “count to five” and say a quick prayer type of restraint. There are times when you only need a quick breath and a collection of thoughts to help you find a nice, yet stern method of telling a person why something is problematic and make it clear that the next time they engage in such fuckery you won’t be as polite about the situation. Some of the best advice I can give is to stay informed. Learn how to express your feelings with words. They don’t have to be big words, but words. Arrange your words so they are most impactful for those who are ignorant of your struggle. Stay clear and straightforward.
In some cases, it makes more sense to go home and vent to your partner about the situation, call your mama, and make a Facebook status before addressing the issue. It’s all about knowing yourself and preserving your job and most importantly, keeping a consistent flow of your income. I’ve personally experienced times where I’ve found myself typing “Look, bitch…” in a few emails to my manager, but backspace saved my life and I managed to take a few seconds to find more appropriate words to express my feelings of dissatisfaction.In extreme circumstances, you might not be able to express your frustration that day or even the next day. You’ll have to wait for the perfect time to address the issue(s) at hand. I can’t tell you when or how that moment will come about, but it will. And when it does, you’ll know exactly what to say.
I’m writing this not as a means of tone policing, but as encouragement for all of my people out there dealing with White people at work. These White people don’t understand how you bite your tongue and spare their feelings on a daily. They don’t know and they don’t understand how sick and tied we are. If, you’re dealing with grade A bullshit on the regular from those who lack melanin and a popping curl pattern, be encouraged. Remember to take deep breaths, keep your LinkedIn profile active, and update your resume every quarter.
Lastly, if you just have to go off on the people at work, remember that you can get unemployment for at least 3 months in most states. It won’t be much, but it’ll help you float from month to month until you find a new gig. Stay strong and unapologetic.
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