I’m naturally a very quiet person, especially at work. Is this why people feel the need to come at me with their bull****? Is it because I’m shy? Is it because I’m the only Brown person here? A combination of both? Didn’t your mother ever teach you “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? These are the questions I have after my White co-worker, who we’ll call “Bob” TRIED IT.
I woke up in one of those rare “happy for no reason” moods. I felt well rested and ready for the day. It was warm but not too hot out. The sun was shining through clouds, casting the most perfect light on my copper skin tones. I almost wanted to skip to work singing with the birds as the slightest breeze flowed through my curly fro. I looked fly, free, and was walking on sunshine. 😁
I get to work and start going about my business, laughing and chatting with some co-workers, procrastinating the morning away. I don’t even notice “Bob” in the corner watching my moves. He walks over and interrupts my pleasant conversation with someone else…
“hmm,”….. “I don’t think I really like your hair like that.” he says smiling…..
Now, the problem with being the only Black woman in a majority White office is sometimes you have to tiptoe around people’s feelings rather than saying it like it is, which is your normal method of operation. You see, Bob/Becky can be as politically incorrect and downright inappropriate as they want but as a Black woman, if I want to keep my job, I have to hold back. Despite being the one insulted, I have to cater to his feelings. I can’t curse or yell at how angry it makes me that even in the 21st century my own natural hair is still seen as unattractive or unacceptable. I can’t even tear up at the fact that this man has the audacity to tell me to my face, in a place of work, that he doesn’t like my God-given hair. I have to craft a subtle response to his White privilege all to avoid being the stereotypical and universally dreaded “angry Black woman”. I wish I was braver. I wish I didn’t care. I really wish I didn’t allow people like this to ruin my day. I wish I could tell him everything wrong with what he said without risking my boss’s bad side. But, my boss already isn’t fond of the Only Black Girl and I have bills to pay. We have to choose our battles carefully…
So, lets become Becky. Like, “let me sound totally sweet while being totally rude when I should be totally minding my own damn business because, although natural Black hair gives me the uncontrollable urge to share my opinion, you rocking a curly fro this morning has 0 impact on my life! *insert innocent giggle here*.” Sigh, 😒.
…Take a deep breath. One more. Don’t yell. Channel inner Becky….
Ending the long awkward silence and uncomfortable glaring, I smirk. “Oh really?” I shrug. “Well, it’s just my natural hair. That’s just how it grows out of my head. I mean…at least I have hair, right!?” I giggle innocently, looking up at Bob’s shiny balding crown of glory and walk back to my damn office. My job is safe….today anyway.