Good morning Lovebugs,
Long time no see… I have been out here trying to mind my business, remodel my home and drink my water.
But of course, whenever you reach a higher plane, someone tries to bring you back down. No no, this isn’t a breakup post, I have done my share of those. It is not about family dysfunction or friends’ betrayal.
This is the story of a no-name, non-factor who decided that today was the day they wanted to knock me off my square. And as a result, he got himself knocked off the block.
*Warning: No one was physically harmed in this situation, but if there had been I wouldn’t have been wrong.*
So before we go into the “incident”, I want to be very clear about a few things. I have been Black all my life. I have been in corporate America, about half of that life. As a woman, specfically a Black woman, I am not naive to microaggressions either due to my race or my gender (and usually both). I have dealt with tone policing, oppurtunity shaming, assumptions of my seniority, and have had several occassions where I have been requested to be the “voice of Black America” in conversations.
There have been many times that I have allowed things to be done and said around me. Originally due to my youth and fear of hurting my future, I accepted it. And as time went on, and bills piled up, I told myself to ignore it. I said it wasn’t worth the fight. I was wrong.
I don’t know whether it is my age or my re-attachment to my ancestors, but I am not that girl anymore.
Yesterday started off amazing. I found out my contractor was coming back to work after a surgery. I went to bed smiling after an amazing conversation. I was preparing for my mom to come in town for my neice’s wedding. I was happy. Like very happy. I put on a simple graphic tee highlighting my happiness. Yep… this is a story about a t-shirt.
I decide to grab a cup of coffee from the catering service in the corporate cafeteria. I smile to greet Mr. Coffee (I don’t actually know his name) and order my Cuban toast and cortadito.
“Why are you wearing a racist shirt?”
I was so caught off guard that I turned around to see who he was speaking to. After a second of confusion, I turned and looked back at him. He was talking to me.
“Why not wear a White is my happy color?”
Oh he is serious serious. I tried to de escalate (because that is what we are taught to do) and say “Well if Pink was my happy color or Yellow was my happy color I would wear that shirt too”. I thought that would stop him but it didn’t.
“Well I guess you can be happy all the time then” with a laugh.
At that point, I knew he was not going to stop. I knew any response would feed into it, so I paid and walked to the other side of the counter while I waited for my food.
I sat there. I replayed the conversation in my head. I sat there some more. I initially tried to blame myself for wearing the shirt. I gaslit my damn self and was going to sweep it under the rug. He had several oppurtunities not to be harmful and he just didn’t care. He doubled down at every turn. He wanted to make my blackness to be something he could target for his enjoyment. This was not about the words on the shirt, it was the black body wearing it.
The whispers in my heart and head, said “Nah Kristi not today”. I couldn’t be complicit. I couldn’t rationalize that he was just the guy in the cafeteria. There are too many young black interns at this company that I would be giving him permission to make uncomfortable. I would have made it ok for him to say something out of the way to the young sister I used to be. It is not just about me.
I never want anyone to lose their job. I never want someone to be banned from their workplace. But I will choose me and mine… everytime.