Thursday, April 23, 2009

Looks can be deceiving

Sisters, have you ever been standing in a public place and have heard these words, "Smile, you look so angry" Or had a co-worker admit they fear you? In the past things like this would make me angry. But as I get older, my blood tends to boil less. Mainly because the simple fact is I don't have a chip to carry. Why should I be angry knowing what my ancestors went through. Hearing the stories my grandmother told me of abuse in the home and racial abuse she endured out side the home. Thinking about how my great grandparents weren't allowed to go to school and died not being able to read and here I am with a degree and a career at 25, who am I to be so angry? In retrospect, yes I have been disrespected, I'm even a victim of abuse, but I still maintain a smile and a demeanor that I hope reads 'You can't run over me, but you can run to me' I love helping other people, volunteering, and giving back. So when I'm accosted by another person I take a step back. Think, and unless hands are placed (I still have my limits) I'm able to walk away, because I know that in my life I get what I give.

Now, sharing my outlook on life with you, I will say this. There is an unforgiving prejudice against black women. Yup I said it. I've been accused of being boiling hot with anger while simply waiting for a cup of coffee. Those words "smile, don't look so mad!" Now that makes me mad. I'm not angry, and I'm just standing, do I really need to look like the Cheshire cat 24 hours a day? Really? I've been called a Bitch at work, by my boss! And I didn't say a word, now is that something a bitch would do? These were the words "oh, she can handle the job, she's good at being the bitch." Now I had several choices, and I chose to say "ok" I nodded my head at the extremely misguided compliment (some people just don't listen to themselves when they talk) and making it a personal goal to start my own company and succeed so I wouldn't have to deal with things like this. I've had my white counterparts, to my face, say "we're scared of you" or "don't mess with her" in that tone that says, 'she's a loose cannon, god only knows what she will do'. Now people, is that fair? I mean really. I don't go up to a white women and say "oh my god, let me read that for you, I know you're a dumb blond" I wouldn’t say to my co worker "woah, I don't mess with Bob, he might put me into slavery" Now, in my personal experience, when people of other races are backed into a corner, with ignorant alienating comments, and they defend themselves they get a pat on the back. But when a woman like myself even answers back, it’s considered violent and angry. I find myself compromising my own integrity just so I'm not stereotyped. When I have the right to speak on something, I'm completely in a place to voice my opinion, I stifle myself, just so my coworkers don't fear me, or that brother in public doesn't look at me with that "that’s why I wouldn't date someone like you" stare. Let anyone else do the exact same thing and it is completely acceptable, in fact they might just get a promotion or a wedding ring.

I've never raised my hand in violence. I don't raise my voice, and I enjoy a rational conversation where conflict is resolved, perhaps if you had just assumed I'm a human being, and not some angry Tasmanian devil, you might have known that. I'd give the shirt off my back, and I have, and I personally know hundreds of women who look just like me who would do the same. So before you go up to that sister who's standing in line doing nothing, saying nothing, before you assume she's angry and tell her to smile, why don't you say "Hi."