First job out of college and I’m the only black person in the office. It’s been interesting, to say the least. Here are some of the funny and offensive moments I’m sure a lot of us solo black folks have experienced:
1. When you forget to code-switch your language at work.
2. When your hair becomes a frequent topic of discussion.
3. When you want to turn down your music in the office parking lot but this Kendrick song is EVERYTHING!
4. When you’re at a loss for words because your white boss rolled his neck and snapped his fingers in an attempt to act out an “angry black woman.”
5. When you don’t want to be a stereotype but you’re like “fuck it” and heat up your chicken in the office microwave anyways.
6. If your parents were a little creative with your name, people feel the need to ask and comment on it.
7. When you frequently encounter microagressions at work and don’t quite know how to word your response.
Hey Y’all. I really need your advice. At work, I’ve had to deal with some semi-racist (aka just plain racist) jokes that aren’t funny.
The thing is—there used to be one black woman in the office before I got there. Given the openly racist things that happen, I don’t think she said much about it. But I cannot be that person. I cannot let this go on while I’m at work and it certainly cannot continue after I’m gone. Then the next black person that comes along is going to have to deal with the same shit and will be stuck in this same awkwardness.
Some folks need to be told up front that what they’re doing is NOT okay. However, given the very casual, always-joking climate of the office, I’ve found it difficult to switch gears to a more serious tone and voice my opinion.
It’s easy to be outspoken with my keyboard, but in person I am sometimes more shy and reserved. I’m new to this office and don’t want to create any tension or drama, but I have to do something about it because it feels wrong not to. I can’t be that person who talks tough on the internet and becomes spineless in person.
How should I handle this?