My So-Called Black Life

Here’s my series on Black Men by Black Men. I’m not sure what details to give on this one. I don’t know if he wants it all out there. So I’ll hold off until I get the go ahead. In the meantime: His essay (it was really long, so I broke it into parts so we could discuss by subject.) Enjoy!
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My [Work] Day: Part I

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Here’s an email I received the other day from one of my best (Black) friends:
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“Once again I walk right into a conversation where racist comments were made.
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I’m headed to the bathroom at work when I overhear one of the managers (white) and 2 of his staff members (white) talking outside the bathroom. Before they see me, the manager says, “I’ll see you guys after the new president [is in office].”

The worker responds saying, “Oh you have Monday off?”

The manager says, “Monday is a Holiday for everybody you know, the Black guy’s holiday. And then the day after is the new Black guy’s holiday. Damn, how many holidays do they want?”

They all started laughing and one added, “let’s not be too loud.”

They had no idea I was around the corner.

Part II

It’s Friday, dress down day at the office. I learned long ago that “dress down” does not ever apply to Black Men and I don’t want to give The Enemy a chance to put me in some sort of box. I pick out a pair of tailored-made pants, pressed button down, tie, blazer and oxfords before taking my daily trek to the office. I never dress for the job I have but for the job I want; I dress “as if”– as if I am the CEO, as if I run things, as if I’m the HNIC!

I take the underground to work so I do not ever have to explain my car (Escalade). The Enemy has a way of judging me based on what I drive, especially if my ride is better than his. If I am not the first one in the office, I am the second. Since my career began, I’ve worked a minimum of 9 hours a day because I know The Enemy evaluates my dedication based on the time I spend in the workplace. I cannot give “Him” any excuse to discredit me.

As a Director, I have a lot of responsibility. With greater responsibility means a greater microscope for me to be evaluated under by The Enemy. I am mindful about everything I say, how I say it, when I say it and where I say it. Here, slang is forbidden as are loud talking, late lunches, personal calls, cell phones, etc. I keep the bass in my voice to a minimum and my hands in my pockets so as not to be intimidating when I address a colleague. My emails are always friendly complete with a “happy” greeting and a respectful ending so as not to appear “angry.” To keep the day moving along, I play music over the Internet-always jazz because R&B and/or Hip Hop would just be too Black. I keep personal conversation to a minimum; I am very vague about what I do in my personal time as to keep The Enemy at a distance. The “enemy” is nosey and wants to know everything about me, which I think can be used against me at a later time (hence my vagueness). I do not drink with my colleagues before, during, or after work. At any business functions outside the workplace I babysit a glass of wine to blend in.

I know I haven’t even spoke about what work I actually do at the office, but in the grand scheme of things, my performance at work is not based on what I accomplish work-wise.

I leave the job mentally drained but blessed to be employed.

—Amelda

Want more Amelda in your life? Check out all of her musings on life & love here.

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