Posts Tagged ‘angry black women’

A Black Woman or Man in a Hostile Work Place

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

One day I woke up feeling so drained of energy that I just did not want to get out of bed. I forced myself out of bed, showered, got ready and hopped into my car and went to work. At work, I went through the motions as best as I could even though I felt like was about to collapse. That evening, as I sat on the couch at home, away from my children and my husband (they could all sense that it was best to stay away from their cranky mother/wife), I came to a realization. I was dying, slowly, but surely.

Every day, I woke up, took a shower, put on some make-up, did my hair and then walked, as a sheep, to my own slaughter. You see, the reason why I was dying was because I allowed myself to work in a work environment where there were people who were killing me. They didn’t hold a gun to my head or stab me with a knife. That would be too outrageous-right? Instead, they did it slowly and I was no better than them because I was a willing participant. When they poked at me, I reacted! When they talked about me and I heard about it, I cried and believed what they were saying! Every day I went to the building that the slow killing was taking place and I thought that a measly check, given to me every two weeks, was enough compensation for my own death-a slow death but a death, nonetheless…
What I have just described is my life as it was some years ago before I left the particular job that I had at the time. I have heard a number of friends and family members describe a similar set of circumstances where they were “the only one” at their work place and experienced negative treatment.

The terrible part of what I and many women (and men) of color experience is that it can be very subtle. It can be a feeling of being micro-managed or having your errors being paid more attention to than anybody else’s. Sometimes it’s as casual as returning from the weekend and everyone except you is talking about how much fun they had together over the weekend. Sometimes you step out of your office and everyone is gone… They have all gone for lunch and you’re the only one they didn’t invite.

My reaction to this experience was to find a new place to work. One of the “non-negotiables” in my job search was that the workplace had to have a lot of diversity and have inclusion as one of its core initiatives.

Can anyone really ever escape the effects of being excluded because they are different? I don’t think so but I do believe that staying in a work place that constantly erodes your self esteem and self worth is an unhealthy way of living one’s life. Some might say, “You’re being excluded because you’re unpleasant to be around.” Well, if that was the case, I believe that every person who left a workplace that was not inclusive would continue to experience the same treatment everywhere they went but most people who leave jobs that are lacking in diversity among their employees usually report a better working environment when they are not “the only one” somewhere else.

Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com

Originally posted at BlackBlueDogs

Nomalanga: The Truth about Black Women

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

I was just watching Oprah, on OWN TV, talking about how her grandmother was telling her, at the tender age of four, that she needed to pay attention to how laundry was done as her grandmother was doing the laundry. Even at four years old, she knew that what her grandmother was telling her about her future was not true. Her well meaning grandmother was trying to show Oprah how to do laundry so that one day she could find “good white folk” to work for as a maid.

Looking at Oprah now, I am amazed at how the acceptance or rejection of just one simple thought can change a person’s life. Imagine what Oprah’s life would have been like if she had accepted what her grandmother told her as the truth. The lesson that I draw from that is that we must not accept other people’s opinions of us as the truth.

Any time you hear about the “successful black woman” in the media, there is usually a negative cloud hanging over that image. Black women have to constantly refute those negative characteristics that are attributed to them. We have to constantly defend ourselves and at times we even allow ourselves to be squeezed into that image, usually because we’ve been poked, prodded and disrespected so much, for so long, that we finally REACT!
So, again, here is the simple lesson that I’m reminded of today, as I watch Oprah in all her magnificence: Don’t let other people’s limited and distorted opinions of you define you. Do not accept other people’s opinions of you, no matter how well meaning, as the TRUTH of who you are.

Audre Lorde, a Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist, put it best:

“If you didn’t define yourself for yourself, you would be crunched into other people’s fantasies of you and eaten alive.”

The question that I will leave you with is: Do you want to be “Oprah” or “the laundry lady”? The choice is yours; what you accept as the truth of who you are is your choice.

Why you should love a “hoe”, b*tch or “chicken head”

Monday, February 6th, 2012

When a woman has been raised in a home and, maybe, also a society that has minimized her, marginalized her and also disrespected and disregarded her, she may not realize that it has been repeatedly suggested to her that she is somehow inferior and the expectations that have been set for her life fall far below the potential that exists in her. She may not realize that she has bought into a lie.

You may know these women. They buy into the lie for different reasons. Among those reasons are religious beliefs that have been taken out of context or completely distorted. Some buy into the lie because their limited environment has only shown them one “reality” and in that reality all they see is evidence of their lack of power and their lack of significance. Some others have been brutally beaten (verbally, mentally and/or physically) and they have endured that treatment for so long that it is next to impossible to imagine that they could be valued, loved and respected. For some, what they have endured is more subtle and less recognizable; they are just overlooked or talked over, talked down to or ignored.

What these women do not see is the truth of WHO they are and who they were Created to be. You might ask: Who are they?

They are children of GOD.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

The next time you see one of these women, don’t laugh at her ignorance or “backward thinking” or call her a “hoe”, b*tch or chicken-head. Instead, look beyond WHAT she has become and instead see her for WHO she is. If you see her for WHO she is, how can you not love her?

Tearing down the wall: Racism and Sexism

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

“The lifting up of the woman does not require the tearing down of the man.” Bishop T.D. Jakes

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people, I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if it needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (Nelson) Rolihlahla Mandela

I’ve come to realize that often when people speak out against racism, they are viewed as racists. When women speak out about sexism, they are perceived as “man haters”. I can’t speak for anyone else on this matter so I will speak for myself.

The way I see it, racism (and sexism) is this huge, thick wall that I keep running into. My response to the wall is NOT to then go and build another wall that people who are different from me (Non-black people for example) will then run into. My response is to first acknowledge that the wall exists and then explore if the wall exists primarily in my mind or if it exists in reality. I really wish I could say the wall was in my mind because that would mean that I could just deal with my mind and the “problem” would be solved! Just to be clear: more often than not, the wall is real.  I respond to the wall by doing my part to chip away at it and I believe that if enough of us chip away at it, it will disintegrate.

For the rest of my life, I will chip at the wall(s). I will bring attention to the wall and encourage as many people as I can to also chip at the wall and to also bring attention to the wall. We cannot change what we do not acknowledge.

Standing up against racial inequalities does not make me a racist; it makes me, among other things, a mother who wants her children to live to their full potential without running into unnecessary walls that degrade and defeat their beautiful minds and spirits. Standing up for women does not make me an “angry feminist” or an “angry black woman”; it makes me, among other things, a woman who wants her daughter , all our daughters, to reach their full potential without constantly running into a wall that tells them that they are less than.

The question that we all need to ask ourselves with regards to racial, gender and other walls, is this: Am I a builder or a chipper?

I am a Chipper. 🙂