When Silence Isn’t Golden…

 

How many people can go to work daily and face the kind of adversity that the African American woman often times experiences on a regular basis? Not many I predict.  As if it isn’t enough, to have to be two and three times better than her white counterparts – but to also have to prove herself, over and over again, is beyond comprehension. Then comes the ultimate slap in the face. All of her hard work was done in vain, because there really was no plan to promote her, the African American woman. There wasn’t even a vague promise of being elevated to the next level for fear that she, might take it seriously and hold ‘the powers that be’ accountable to an expectation they never had any intention of fulfilling.

What is the ‘woman of color’ to do when she finds herself bound by the tight reign of a corporate arena that neither accepts nor acknowledges her intelligence? It seems apparent that the corporate world would rather give up a third of its wealth than to share it even remotely with a woman of ethnic heritage. All this while knowing full well, that she has everything it takes to be an asset to the company, while enhancing its overall image and bottom line.

Where does this kind of disdain and resistance come from? It might be easier to solve the problems of the nation’s economy, rather than tackle the long-standing issue of differential treatment; a problem that is so prevalent in today’s workplace setting(s). The reasons for this behavior could stem anywhere from unfounded insecurities and preconceived notions to outright racism and indifference. But, no matter what the reasons are, the problem is alive and well and needs to be addressed.

How long is the ‘woman of color’ supposed to suffer in silence for fear of retaliation from those who have contributed to her present state of mind? Should she wait for change that may never come? Should she give in and grovel in hopes that a few pebbles might be thrown her way? If she stands strong as only she knows how to do, what will be the fallout of that stance? These are just a few of the things that the African American woman faces daily, in addition to all the other curve balls that life throws her way.

Thank heavens she’s a good catcher, this remarkable woman that seems to have eyes in the back of her head! How is it that she can instinctively duck without ever seeing the curve ball come her way? How is it that she can sense danger long before it reaches her front door? Why is it that she, more often than not, seems to know when something just isn’t right? It could be because, the African American woman has a built-in radar that is crucial and very necessary for her daily survival. Thankfully, these skills of ducking and dodging bullets are naturally ingrained within her, because there is always something she has to watch out for.

That is why exhaling is something the African American woman often finds so hard to do. Can she ever truly relax, when dropping her guard would only leave her wide open to being pelted relentlessly with life’s many unpleasantries? For her, this is risky business; a chance she would rather not take. So, she has to walk through life with shoulders that are strong and square; able to sustain the weight of the world while wearing a smile, dodging a bullet, and ducking a curve ball, simultaneously. What an extraordinary woman that can master all of these things while maintaining an air of class, dignity and grace.

Is it just easier to disregard the African American woman and dismiss her as expendable? Or would it be a display of humanity to just give her the respect that should come naturally and effortlessly? It is amazing what some will expend energy on, especially when it comes to negativity. You might be wondering how I know all these things? Well…I am that African American woman!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

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August 2019
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