This has been one of the hardest posts to write within the #BlackBlogsMatter challenge. Considering that I setup the calendar, that is hard to admit and make sense of. But the truth is I sat down to write and suddenly felt both blocked and burdened by the idea of speaking on behalf of Black people and what we think.
For so long, that’s been the case for Black people across so many mediums. We are represented as all being only one way. We must look, think and act alike. We must want the exact same thing in the exact same way — or our message is too confusing and dis-unified for anyone to understand how to help us. This is unfair and untrue.
Black people are as diverse in our appearance, thoughts, behaviors, upbringings, dreams, aspirations, accomplishments and accolades as anyone else. We are allowed to have the full range of emotions and expressions and evolution as anyone else. We must be able to learn, grow, make mistakes, live to be forgiven, rebound, succeed and flourish just like anyone else … Yet for so long, we’ve been presented as a monolith only allowed a very narrow definition of humanity. Anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotypical definition is rejected, criticized and ostracized.
The only thing I can say is what I be thinking. And what I think is, as it relates to work, we are still waiting for the majority to recognize that we are both part of t and different from the majority group at the same time — and that both of these are OK. I think I don’t want to forced into a caricature or stereotype. I think Black people deserve — all people deserve — to be seen as fully realized humans who bring our complete selves to work each day. This includes our Blackness and the wide range of experiences that includes.
Telling me that you don’t see my race does not make me think I’m included. It makes me think I am unseen, unimportant and devalued. It makes me think I have to edit myself and shrink for your comfort. This makes me sad, for me and for you.
Because of this, I look around for other Black people wherever I go. I do this because I think I can trust that they will see me and value me, more often than not. If there aren’t very many, I count to note exactly how many there are. Sometimes there are so few Black people, I count the Women and People of Color to bolster my sense of diversity and inclusion. I think this is sad and pathetic. Sometimes, I size myself up against those people and think about the probability of outrunning them if some isht pops off so I don’t end up in the Sunken Place or worse. Hahaha — joking not joking.
I think I just want to be accepted, comfortable and confident in places where I have to spend significant amounts of time. I think work is one of those places. I think everyone is entitled to this. I think this shouldn’t be some lofty, future aspiration. I think it should be something we demand of our workplaces right now. I think it is something we should regularly be thinking about and moving toward. I think this is key to breaking down the walls that keep us oppressed.
I think I want to see this in my lifetime. I know this is something I want for myself. Not my children or their future children — I want it for me. I don’t want to work for 25 more years thinking I’m being shorted on opportunities and earnings and acceptance because of attributes that I had no choice in and that have nothing to do with my abilities.
I don’t think White people want this, either. I don’t think oppression is the goal for most. I think the majority of the majority wants everyone to have a fair share. Some are even willing to give up a portion of their share to achieve this if necessary.
But the difference is, I don’t have a choice in whether I show up or advocate for these things. My existence and my choice of profession mandate it. It is not optional.
I think everyone’s existence mandates the same thing. I think the fight for inclusion and equality is everyone’s fight and we must choose it actively, thoughtfully and purposefully. I especially think everyone who’s chosen HR as a profession or whose path has led them to a leadership role are mandated to take up this mantle. I think it is time more people also start thinking this way.
That’s not what all Black people be thinking tho. I don’t speak for all of us. Just me.
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