To be a woman, in general, is already difficult, but to be a black woman is a whole different story.
Black women can't win in the corporate world. We are forever tokens.
As a black woman, you are already taught you to have to work twice as hard. For instance, I have a Masters degree, worked for many top companies; but I am making the same salary as a recent college graduate with no work experience. Mind you, I live in Silicon Valley, so this is pretty sickening.
Being a black woman in a corporate office is a story that no one wants to speak about too openly. Refinery 29, has published several articles about being a black woman in the workplace.
Recently I read the article ” Be Your Authentic Self At Work — But Only if You're White.” I felt a deep connection, and it frightens me on how we, as black women, are still dealing with this on a daily basis. Shockingly, we are considered professional if we are well spoken, and we are versatile.
For many workers of color, code-switching, or altering the way one speaks and acts depending on context, becomes the norm in order to make coworkers and superiors more comfortable. - Refinery29
Most of us always have heard the comments "you're so real” and “we know you have no problem expressing your feelings.”
Ironically, the phrase " you're so real " is a facade to stay away from being that stereotype. You know the one when we are the" angry, loud and we clap when we talk" black woman stereotype in the media. We are not stereotypes we are individuals.
We switch our language, tone, hair, fashion and so much more to fit in at work. We give this facade to remain accepted into the cooperate world. For instance, I know I hold myself back from saying certain things or speaking a certain tone that can come off as "too black" when it is not the case. I know how I am inside work and outside of work. Inside of work I am very professional, nod your head, friendly and funny. Outside of work, I am still well-spoken with more a realness in my voice and actions; I don't do the nod your head-- I tell it how it is.
One coworker has said to me "we know you are very blunt and I know we have worked on toning it down." Excuse me, and I am not blunt at all at work; if I were, I wouldn't have a job. But you know what my response was? It was a giggle and a head nod aka accepted and noted in my head how dumb she sounds with that statement.
The real question is, why do we have to feel captivated by our race? Why are we not allowed to show emotion at work? I’ve been taught never to reveal too much emotion at work or reveal too much of your private life. You are not allowed to show weakness or to cry at work. You have to stay strong, but you need to show empathy. It’s a tough role to act.
We as women of color need to break this ongoing issue we have all witnessed or experienced in the workplace. We need to start an open conversation with all of our female coworkers from different races who are continually participating in behaviors on how we can suppress this behavior.
We need to become a support system for each other and let someone be their authentic self without stereotypes. We need to stop pre-judging someone for the way they talk, dress or if their hair is now longer from yesterday aka a weave. Please accept us for who we are in corporate world. We've worked hard to be here. We made it this far being our authentic selves, let us do that at work.
We promise we will make you still feel comfortable.