Despite what the reading public thinks or says, I’m an introvert. I like to be left alone, I like quiet, and people are taxing. This doesn’t mean I’m sociopathic, or people-hating or even unapproachable! I grew up as a shy, quiet Black girl in a family of loud people. My quiet nature led to me being shy–which is not an asset in a public school.
I learned to be loud, and vocal–just like I learned to write. I learned that as a quiet, introverted kid, I needed to have a loud persona.
But then came life after high school. There was this unspokenness around me when I entered college. The school I was at (the now closed Deaconess College of Nursing) was predominately White. My high school was predominately Black. So, I really didn’t know how or where I fit in at.
But what I did notice was my White cohort thought I was unapproachable when I was quiet. Thought I was mean when I spoke my mind and needed my banter to feel comfortable. Even on some jobs that I have worked, I have noticed the same thing! When I’m quiet and doing my job, I am seen as someone worthy to be suspicious of. I’m legit just working.
But, when I am more open, soft-spoken and quiet at certain intervals, then I’m seen as a team-player, consistent in my work, and easy to work with. That is my personal favorite.
(Thee personification of my silent rage.)
When I came across this article on BESE.com by Sequoia Holmes, I rejoiced. Every woman in me, lived before me who had taught those women, telling them to hold on for me, screamed.
Can I not just come to work, make this money and leave?! Please?! Damn!
But I know that predominately White places police anything and everything which isn’t White, or White and male! From the names on resumes, to if you bring a dish to the office party or participate in Secret Santa. You are consistently monitored to see just what kind of Black girl you are.
If you don’t play the role of a Mammie or a Sapphire, then you have become identified as a problem. White America loves sexy, sassy, loud Black girls! Introverted Black girls need not apply.
Let me help the White folks you work with right quick:
The powers that be did not hire me to entertain you. They don’t pay me enough to banter with you, make up nicknames for you or teach you how to twerk. Don’t touch my hair when I change it. If my door is closed to my office do not knock. I meant to close it, I do not care what y’all are getting for lunch. You slick wanna see what I’m doing. If I am at my cubicle working quiet, that means I am doing just that.
I’m minding my business.
You should try it.
Black women have to be and do so many things just I have peace walking through the world! This none so apparent as when we work in predominantly White spaces. It is tiring: enter code switching, shifting and have a persona you put on from the moment you darken the door in the morning.
You cannot just go to work and be left alone–because introverts need to recharge from people. It’s just how we are wired. But Black girls are expected to be on in order to have some peace at work.
My job is to do what my job requirements are, and no more. Not every Black girl is Tiffany Haddish or desires to be! Not every Black girl dances or watches Scandal or Power. I don’t have to placate your expectation about being Black people to be seen as valuable to a company.
The same respect you give to David who never opens his office door until he leaves, to Becky that brings her cat pictures to work because it soothes her, is the same respect I need when I come in and sit at my desk to answer emails.
Let me be Black and remain employed.