I have conflicting emotions when being the only black woman within the workplace. There’s the one aspect where I feel as though in a positive way I’m representing the black girl magic within an organization, where it is tough to get a job, let alone one where it feels as though you’ve made in life. Then another aspect where all of the negative stereotypes fall on being black women. Due to that, there’s a level of disrespect at hand. Here are some examples of being the token black girl within the workplace.
1. Some Companies Hire That One Black Girl
Let me explain this one. What I mean when I say that one black girl is certain companies will hire just one person– who happens to not be a white figure– that is a black woman, man or anyone to represent the whole world of diversity. You see it all the time on advertisements and makeup ads. Everyone in the picture is visibly white, then there’s the token Black, Asian, Latina female in between.
2. You Must Be From Some Exotic Country
I’m not sure about you but I get these questions all the time:
So where are you from? No I meant your background. But, where are you really from?
This reminds me of the scene in Mean Girls where the one black girl in class was mistaken in being from Africa when she was really from Detroit. It gets me every time how accurate that scene is. I guess they feel my answer will change or I somehow owe people my DNA. Next time, I’ll make up a country so customers will feel better about my answer as opposed to being from North America.
There’s no going around this word. Whether you live in Canada like myself, or the U.S., there’s a certain level of disrespect towards black women at work. Most of the time it is not in your face. In Canada, the disrespect tends to be more indirect. For example, I get asked all the time if I know what I’m doing in my field of work. Like for real y’all? The other people–white people–tend to get more respect within the workforce and more so the men. Men in general tend to get the upper hand in terms of respect. Celebrities like Rihanna, who is an international star has stated that she gets disrespected as a business woman amongst managers ,and other workers, so what makes the unknown individual any different? Obviously some aspects can apply for anyone. This is just an example of what I see in front of my own eyes.
4. Moving Up The Ladder Can be Impossible
Hate to say this, but I cannot sugarcoat this fact. I get the point where you have to know people in order to move up– more specifically the corporate ladder; however, I’ve seen some straight up lazy idiots kiss ass (which is not my style) and easily get a higher pay. There does not have to be someone telling you that they are not biased… you just feel it. Sort of like the higher up folks are breathing out the biasness and you are inhaling the bullshit. How often do you see a black women become CEOs of a well known company? Very few.
5. Starting Your Own Business Can be Tedious
The scary part to consider when starting your own business as a black woman is that a lot of black people at times don’t support black businesses. More so black businesses get more scrutiny over white owned businesses.
This is a rhetorical question: Who do you bank with?
There’s not judgement because there’s more access to banks that are predominantly white owned. This is just something to consider. Plus, I plan on starting my own business and defeat the whole mistrust put towards black owned businesses.
6. No One Can Relate
I know there’s a lot of history in terms of struggles of various stereotypes with woman of color. This is an area where others feel like they cannot relate. It’s not that we are not relatable… this is actually the exact opposite. What’s amazing about life is that anyone’s struggles can bring people closer. For instance, both Jewish and African descendants went through slavery for over 400 years, both in separate times. Even though the context may have been a little bit different– the struggle was the same.
Due to the fact that the issues black women face can be ten times worst then a white women… there’s an aspect where they can also relate to the struggle as a woman in general.
Have you ever experienced any of these things? Let’s talk about them in the comments below!