It’s disappointing when you turn on Facebook or Twitter or any type of Social Media communication forum and realize that someone you know doesn’t quite think the way that you thought they did. You, for whatever reason, believed that this person didn’t feed into the stereotype of their race or racial/ political affiliation. I try not to discuss politics or racial injustices in order to maintain ignorant bliss…and I guess to also ignore the fluorescent pink elephant sitting in the “room”.
At my last teaching job, I worked pretty much with all white woman. There was also 2 white men and 2 Hispanic teachers. The student population was reflected in the staff. Working pretty much with women is one thing, but to work with those that look nothing like you can be a lot to handle. This is for anyone no matter the race. Working with people that are different than you can be challenging.
The time I was at this school, I unknowingly felt the need to do everything perfect. After recently reflecting on this time, I realized that I felt the weight of perfection that many African Americans deal with situations like this. What I mean is, many African Americans, realize that in order for them to be seen as “equal”, we have to perform at the same level and often times better than our white counterparts. We have to watch what we say, watch how we dress, and watch how we do our hair, so as not to appear “threatening or intimidating”. We have to be bubbly, very friendly, and sociable, so as not to fall under the category of being the Angry Black Person. Even if we aren’t in the mood. We may not be in a bad mood, but again to not appear “threatening or intimidating”, we must change so no one is uncomfortable. We must watch our tone when speaking and our body language so that we aren’t the “eye-rolling” stereotype that is known as the “sassy” black woman. Some parents struggled with my personality and I was later informed that a few parents discussed with each other how I wouldn’t last long at the school.
The times I would discuss with my superior about any parent issues possibly being about race, was ALWAYS shot down. Race could NEVER be why a parent was complaining to the principal instead of to me. No matter how the parent always “misunderstood” my way of communicating because I sounded too “strong” in the way I spoke. I wasn’t trying to “play the race card”, even though this card stays in the deck, but I didn’t want to throw it out either. My blackness was new to these parents. Everything about me, my hair, my jewelry, my way of speaking to their children was new for everyone. I never disrespected any of them or made them feel unimportant, but I didn’t talk to them like they were babies or still in Kindergarten either. So my “strong” voice didn’t help matters. I had entered a bubble which didn’t include very many me’s.
I didn’t care that 98% of my students didn’t look like me. I believed that maybe I was their teacher, so that they and their parents could see that the stereotype of black people shown in media was not how ALL black people were. While I quietly fought these issues in my head, I still often wondered if anything about my race could be an issue for some of the teachers I smiled and conversed with daily.
Though many were friendly and open-minded with me while at work, Facebook Statuses reveal hidden thoughts, conversations, and viewpoints. The whispers spoken when I wasn’t around. The home discussions of how you truly feel regarding information from the news. The meme below showed those inner thoughts.
Please Read The Meme Below Part II: Where I Stand
Please Comment and tell me how you handle racial discussions at work?
Have you ever had to be “extra careful” at work because of who you are?