SBW

So I have worked at my current job for 18 years. I grew up in a Black family, where many of my relatives worked at government jobs with good salaries and pensions or in stable positions for years. When I graduated law school, I decided a career in government compliance best suited me because I had no desire to work 80 hours a week for only double the salary I could make at a job that offered me great benefits and the luxury of having time for other parts of my life. For a long while it was actually a great decision. As one of the only legally trained officers, the job came easy to me. I wrote legal decisions with ease, understood the law, and quickly became a go to for my knowledge. That translated into a promotion, that was in my wheelhouse. I developed a training program that was adopted nationwide. It was all good… until it wasn’t good.

So fast forward to last week. After having been turned down for positions numerous times that were given to much less qualified, experienced, and proven employees over the last few years, I took my last stab at a supervisory position. I currently am the go to trainer for my team; my supervisor and all the others as well, send their team members to me for help. I do the schedule. I am the team lead. I do everything but approve leave…. no one else, in the building, does that and still maintains their actual job. Hell the folks whose job that is don’t do that. I was gonna try one more time to get paid for ALL my labor, or get a lawyer. If you know any good civil tights lawyers…. Anyway…

So this position required no interview, but I am a boss in an interview so that was no concern, and was selected based on an interest letter (you’ve read my writing) and a resumé (I create resumés as a side hustle, ask about me). So, before I go on, I want to point this out. The Strong Black Woman stereotype is bullshit when used in the professional world to overlook Black women, to pile work on us, to ask us to train other people who they later hire over us, and to benefit their white male run, systematic racism mimicking offices to their benefit and our detriment. It is a form of racism and a macroaggression made up of hundreds of microaggressions… from denying us leave, WE HAVE EARNED, to care for our children, butting in our personal business like they are concerned when in fact it is just because they don’t respect our boundaries, and WORST when they use their Black overseers to mistreat us and say shit to us that they know would get them handled in the streets, hoops off and hair in a ponytail. I used to think they just didn’t like me… which is still true, but it’s much bigger and more pervasive than that. It’s bullshit. So keep that in your hat.

Anyway, I get a call from a Black female supervisor, who they like because she’s agreeable, and I ask too many questions, complain, call them out, and have grieved their bad behavior several times before. She says to me, “you know you are a rockstar, you have no backlog, you can do everything, you help everyone, the supervisors frequently send officers to you for help, I know I do, and you go above and beyond”… but we selected someone else, and we encourage you to apply for any opportunity, but I think you’ll understand when you see who we picked (loose quotation). She asked if I had questions, and I said no and got off the phone.

What the fuck? Get the lawyer on the phone…

So I know, like every other time, they picked some White girl who, like me, went to law school. They figure that is enough to overlook me. They figure I haven’t gone off yet, I still show up, I don’t run through the place wildin’ out, I haven’t brought Ray Ray, Pookie, or Man up there to threaten anyone, and I haven’t hired Geoffrey Fieger. They also figure, I am a fucking mule. I am Kizzie. I can carry a baby on my hip, a basket of cotton on my head, and knit a blanket with my free hand, while singing “Wade in the Water” in perfect pitch. I don’t matter. I was made to be overlooked, let them tell it. But they don’t know me. I stayed for the stable and easy paycheck, the eight hours max. I can do that work in my sleep. But I also have every receipt. EVERY. I have already planned my exit. But this time was different, maybe because of the three people who made the decision, they sent their token negro, to deliver that trash to me.

So, I had actually planned to spend the next part of my career counseling victims of workplace discrimination so their EEO and harassment suits would show the very real trauma and damage caused. But looks like I get to practice on myself first. I got your mule… and when it kicks them square in their ass, I hope Stephenetta is there to watch what happens to racist assholes who use race-based stereotypes in the workplace to overwork and overlook minority employees. They only like you cuz you a good nigger.

Sincerely, “Diss Nigger Here”:

Overseer:

Even Glow Sticks Break

“Her favorite thing to say, don’t worry I got it.” Neyo, Miss Independent
(That’s likely not her favorite thing to say. Try again. )

“You never ask for anything.”
Translation: You got it, you don’t need anything!
(Wrong again, everyone needs something at some time.)

She’s Self-Sufficient, Reliable, Responsible, a Perfectionist, Uber-Successful, Fearless. Did I mention self sufficient!
She’s the quintessential “Strong Black Woman”
(Call it what you want but it’s exhausting AF,cuz…)

The Strong Black Woman is every Black woman, some Black women, and no Black woman. She’s a mythical figure just like her superhero status. She’s a combination of the mule, the woman who has to work twice as hard to get 1/2 the success because she’s Black and female, the caped crusader, and a dope ass chica. She’s a role model modeled after roles past. She’s supposed to be the the antithesis of the Welfare Queen, the skeezer, or your trifling ass cousin who always needs to borrow money, but has the best Peruvian Wave bundles with the flawless closure. The a Strong Black Woman is rabbit in the hat magic, not Black girl magic! Hocus pocus.

Reality is better than fiction. She is strong and weak. She is independent and reliant, responsible and irresponsible, perfection at moments and mediocre at others, fearless and fearful. She is not one thing. She is all the things. Her humanity makes her better than any leotard clad superhero.

And contrary to popular belief, sometimes she does…Need something.

“I get by with a little help from my friends“-The Beatles

Sometimes we need something, someone. Sometimes we need someone other than our mother to ask us how we are doing. Chances are we are checking up on and checking for, many more people who just assume that we’re good because we are presumed superheroes without capes. The fact is that, we aren’t invisible, we can’t walk through walls, don’t fly, and can’t freeze people. We don’t have special powers that give us any more time in a day to accomplish something worthwhile.

Sometimes we need someone to recognize that being the person that gives and is available to, and is often called upon by, other people all the time, and never asks for it to be reciprocated struggles sometimes. We struggle with exhaustion and with loneliness. Very rarely do people reach out to us, check on us, ask us what we might need. And by nature we just aren’t the type to ask, but instead start processing how to get what we need before the need arises. But it’s just simply decent to check on folks who check on you.

It takes a lot of time and energy and internal focus to be this responsible. Yet it is expected of us like its simple. We are expected to do well, when mediocrity is accepted from others. We are expected to put in more effort, work ourselves until exhaustion, and risk our lives and health. And sadly, we get used to it. We are used to validating, not receiving validation, so we don’t broadcast our successes. Be clear, validation isn’t the goal. Most of our validation, 95%, comes from the actual accomplishment of the goal. But instead of calling us strong, call us successful, smart, accomplished. High five us for that awesome job. Stop feuling narcissists, another topic for another day, and show up for the folks who show up for you!

Don’t check on me because I’m your strong friend… just do it because you care. Let me know you see me. No fanfare needed, just a lil …

“I’m good all by myself… but ” Neyo

Yes, mostly I’m good. Mostly I’m good and I’m a movement. I get shit done. I get shit done in grand style. I set and break the curve. All that. But every once and awhile I need some help… and believe me as much as you think I don’t, I wish I didn’t. Eventually you start to believe you really are Wonder Woman, Super Girl, Miss Indie Pendant. But alas, superheroes are fictional.

So we have to learn to accept help. We have to be open to it, unashamed about needing help, and willing to embrace it fully and completely as a gift to my forward progress. Needing support doesn’t make us weak or incapable. Accepting help doesn’t make us needy or dependent. Realizing that despite our search for perfection, we will always fall short, and we are sent help mates the same way we are sent as help mates is imperative to our success. Alot of chess pieces surround the Queen so she in turn can do her job. She doesn’t act alone! She truly gets by with a little help from her friends…

As great as you are solo, imagine how much greater you could be with the right people in your corner…” I’m a force when we’re together!

May the force be with you! Glow baby…