“The black woman has nothing to fall back on: not maleness, not whiteness, not ladyhood, not anything. And out of the profound desolation of her reality, she may very well have invented herself.” — Toni Morrison
Even though I was explaining my slides to my white client at a videoconference, he was too preoccupied with studying me, his blue eyes unyielding. I had become accustomed to that kind of stare ever since I stopped straightening my hair.
Instead of discussing our work, he interrupted me, “I read your articles.”
“Oh, yeah?” I asked.
“Forgive me for asking. It’s just that…
“Some people say we got a lot of malice
Some say it’s a lotta nerve
But I say we won’t quit movin’
Until we get what we deserve …
Say it loud — I’m black and I’m proud!”
James Brown lyrics from “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,”
This article is for black women — who are thinking about changing their features to “fit in” white institutions. I’m hoping I can convince you to believe in your natural beauty. I’m hoping I can change my best friend’s mindset. …
Even though they harbor hidden racist thoughts in their hearts, some white people deny they’re racists. Some of these whites strongly call out white people’s racist ideas. But they will strongly deny their own. They become defensive when someone calls something they’ve done or said, racist.
Here’s an example from my recent experience:
When my white clients saw the glittering airport, steel, and glass shining bright in the sunlight and gleaming with brilliant white paint, they stared entranced, as if frozen in cobra hypnosis. They expected the airport to be a third-world hellhole, a dusty, barren, trash-filled landscape of despair…
When Maria’s doorbell rang, she excused herself from the Zoom meeting to answer her door. A delivery guy was holding her favorite flowers, red roses. All her teammates saw her radiant face in real-time.
To be present with her as the gift arrived enriched our relationship in a unique yet emotional way.
Even though we work for the same company, 12 of us have never met in person. Since March 2020, we’ve been teaching online classes. I’m in Dubai with 3 of my team members. Maria is in South Africa. And the rest are in Japan and the United States.
He was like a dog with a bone.
My friend’s husband woke up every morning and spent the day working towards his business goals like the day before and the day before. He started running his blog since Mid-2018. And an online publication he runs with his business partner. Just a few more years, he told himself. Just until my blog has enough email subscribers and generates money. Just until Google redirects most readers’ questions to my blog. Just until thousands of readers read my publication every month.
Time and time again, he told himself, “I’ll slow down…
Here’s an exceptional white boss who deserves a big thank you.
When I gave the wrong lecture to clients that were not supposed to take the class on my first day, I expected him to fire me. Instead, he said something unexpected.
“I need you to stop being afraid of making mistakes. I’m never going to fire you for getting things wrong — I’m going to fire you if you don’t try.”
I didn’t say thank you to my ex white boss who didn’t fire me for making a mistake until now. One of my black students had to ask…
“This thing called strength, this thing we applaud so much in African American women, could also be a disease.” — Researchers at Health Care for Women International.
They wouldn’t let me feel my emotions.
Colleagues, supervisors, and bosses were quick to leave voice mails. When are you getting back to work?
But no one even bothered to ask, “How are you doing?”
After my online sexual harassment experience, I wanted to put my head on my soft pillow and cry in peace. …
He stared at my face entranced as if frozen in cobra hypnosis.
To my white client, I might as well be a picture he bought from the art gallery. He kept looking at my face as if I’m that picture he hanged on the wall of his living room. He can gaze at his picture and never take his eyes from it. But he has no right to look at my dark face as if my skin color gets him off.
For 4 weeks, every time I gave a presentation or we video-conferenced, he looked at my face…
Sometimes the most unexpected gesture saves you from drowning in sorrow. Sometimes simple things like the sun rays playing with the golden leaves lessen your grief. You close your eyes and remember loved ones whom you have lost with fondness. These simple things become your guardians in grief helping you put one foot in front of the other, despite your deep loss.
Before covid, we could wash the faces of our hurting loved ones. We could walk into each other’s arms and hug. We could hold hands. …
“I… I’m depressed,” I confided to my white friend. “I don’t know what else to do,” I was sharing my recent online harassment on FaceTime. Three weeks have passed since I reported my harasser to HR. Nothing. I was taking a chance, opening up to my white friend like that.
I wanted acknowledgment. Maybe she would grant me the freedom to share my experience that is both black and female. Maybe my white friend would listen to what I am going through. Maybe she would allow me to let out all those bottled emotions.
Except, I saw in the slant…