I used to work a lower tier level sales job for some wholesale company. The pay sucked. There were very few perks or incentives and the company was pretty much comprised of a. those drinking the kool-aid who intended to be there forever b. those who had reached the highest echelon of employment and therefore had no desire to go any where else and c. those working there just long enough for a new and challenging position to come along. I would have to say I belonged in that third column, probably ever since the first moment I stepped through the doors for my first interview with HR. I don't work there anymore (obviously) and this isn't some Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale so I won't say I left for greener, fertile pastures and rode off into the sunset or anything like that. I pretty much just said hasta la bye bye and went on my merry way in an attempt to find a little more sanity, peace and tranquility with a company that rewards hard work and respects people. O and to return to school and to find myself and do a little inner feng shui. Not too much to ask I think but then again I am a part of that ever-coddled Generation Y Penelope Trunk is always fawning over (or griping about) so maybe I should have been a little bit more weary of this ever gloomy Great Recession and stayed put. After all, I am working two jobs now to keep a roof over my head as opposed to one. I rarely get enough sleep and I sometimes feel like I made a big mistake leaving that place. But then common sense worms its way back in and I realize that my biggest gripe with my last job was not the low wages, or the (too) heavy work load or even the high school-like gossip that everybody seemed to partake in. It was the fact that when I had a legitimate gripe or issue I was treated as if I was a highly sensitive bomb they were trying their best not to detonate, all while never really taking the time to listen to what it was I had to say. If you are a woman of color (or any minority for that matter) you probably know what I am talking about: The Plight of the Sassy Black Woman.
|Because you asked accounting to run the reports for all of your accounts 30 days past due and all they heard was "mmm hmmm, brothas be trippin'"|
You may be asking yourself; What is this plight of the sassy black woman you speak of and how can I become a member? Not so fast there slick! While the sassy black woman routine has its perks (you can use it to play cutsies in your local cineplex and to get out of fights with white women who are outside of your weight class) it also has many drawbacks. For starters, people assume you are just being sassy (have an attitude problem) even when you have a legitimate gripe and therefore will devalue everything you suggest or have to say. This is what I encountered most at my old job. Older (and mostly white) men who thought every time I had a complaint about one of them say not telling me they were going to be on sales visits all week and would be forwarding all their client voice and e-mails to me it was just because I didn't know how to handle all my black sassiness. It's kind of like the way alot of men treat all women in general when they accuse us of being upset because we have our monthly visitor when really we're just angry because they forgot to take the trash out last night and now the kitchen is filled with a thousand tiny little fruit flies (and we're on our monthly visitor.) I even had a male manager have the audacity to say to me once "don't try and use that black attitude shit on me!" at my first office job out of high school (I was only asking him where we kept the toner). To be honest, I don't really have that much sassiness in me to begin with. I kind of just do a vague Queen Latifah impersonation when I need people to take me seriously.
|Now as I was saying, can I please get those 30+ reports?|
Treating all black women as the sassy black woman is a hurtful and dangerous thing. Let's not even get into the legal ramifications it could get you into. It's just wrong. Shouldn't I be allowed to be treated like a person first? This is America for crying out loud! When Bob J. Anglo-Saxon in marketing goes on a mini tirade because somebody forgot to upload his latest images for the catalog to the sales manager for approval the entire room doesn't go "O better watch out for Bob, he's having one of his sassy white man days again." No they don't. Bob has his words listened to and evaluated for truth. Then actions are taken and things are corrected. At the very least Bob gets to be pissed off for pissed off sake and after he's done venting, everybody gets to go back to what they were doing before without getting to make pre-conceived notions about Bob's state of mind and whether or not he is able to cope in an office atmosphere. I don't entirely blame others for this plight either. You can't swing a bat in Harlem without hitting a black (or Latina) woman who has been suckered into thinking walking around with a sassy attitude and a chip on her shoulder is the only way to live. Hell, Monique has made a living out of being the sassy black chick. She won a freakin Oscar because of it!!! Yeah... let that sink in. And she's far from the first. (I'm looking at you, Jacké) From thirty minute situational comedies to 30 second commercials, sassy black women have been taking over the market on what it means to be a black woman in 2011. Frankly, I'm sick of it. Don't believe me? Take a look at this spot for WE Mason Office Supplies:
Still not convinced? How about this one?
O and in case you forgot, there's ol faithful:
So you see where I'm coming from here? Couldn't just as many paperclips, car insurance policies and cleaning products have been sold without the goose-necking and finger-snapping? Now, before you start in on me on the social and political reasons black woman have taken on such a tough exterior and that slavery and civil rights injustices are to blame for the way we are, I want you to stop...
|And don't even get me started on this chick.|
When are we as a group going to stick up for ourselves and say no more? They can't continue to show us in this negative and stereotypical light if they have no actresses to portray us like that, right? Where is the solidarity? I am in no way trying to say women of color should feel the need to disguise who we are. If your true personality is stank, by all means, stank it up in Stankonia to your little stanking heart's content. What I am saying is that, not all of us are like that and when you keep this lie alive (that all black women are just an inch away from going all ghetto) you do damage to the entire group. I eagerly await the day when a black woman can be angry just because... well she's angry. And not because we all posses the internal recipe for sassiness.
--- Vanity in Peril