The Enter and Exit of a Black Woman in the Workplace
BY: KIKI N.
Reading time: 4 minutes
As you all know, I'm always online. And... I came across a very interesting infographic. Take a look!
After reading this infographic, I realized, hmmm, this seems about right. Although I am still happy at my current job, I have faced many of these experiences and situations.
There are phases that a black woman can go through throughout her employment. The phases are listed out and explained thanks to the infographic above by Coco-Net.Org.
Honeymoon - The woman of color feels welcomed, needed, and happy
The honeymoon phase makes you believe that you are a part of the team. You feel equal and unstoppable. Yeah, I was there. Everyone is all nice, and they make you feel at home.
But then, as you stay longer, you start to realize...
Repetitive Injury & Micro-aggressions
Reality- The woman of color points out the issues in the organization
She tries to work within the organization's structure and policies
She pushes for accountability
You experience little things that make you feel uncomfortable. An example from my own experience is my boss asking me "Are you sure you can do this?" multiple times like I don't know what I'm doing. I used to tell him. "Yeah, I'll ask questions if I feel confused." But he used to ask me that all the time. It was annoying, and I felt belittled.
There are other micro-aggressions that are way worse than mine, but you get the point.
Then at this point, you want to address the problem. You want to stand up for yourself. After talking about how you feel and your inadequate workplace, the company then...
Denial of Racism
Response - the organization, denies, ignores, and blames
The responsibility of fixing the problem is placed on the woman of color
People of color are pitted against each other
Yup. Your job will tell you "Oh no, we love diversity, we would never act in such a way." But deep down, you know that you are and were discriminated against at work, but of course, it's hard to prove it. And sometimes you will have to figure out how to deal with it. Or, fix the situation yourself because you are having a hard time with HR helping you prove an instance of discrimination.
Even your black co-workers will have mixed feelings about it. Some will pretend discrimination or microaggressions don't exist. And, you also don't want to work with black co-workers that are loud and obnoxious about racism and discrimination because you still want to keep your job.
So you try to make a statement and...
Target & Attack
Retaliation - the organization decides that the woman of color is the problem and targets her
The organization labels the conflict as a "communication issue" or claims that she is not qualified or "not a good fit"
At this point, your workplace points you as a problem. They don't want to deal claims of racism and micro-aggressions in the workplace. They rather ignore the problem and get rid of ONE employee making it a problem.
The woman of color exits the organization.
At this point, some women quit or get fired. And that's the exit.
All these events can happen with a duration of a month, a year, or even ten years. Everyone's enter and exit are different. This may not occur to EVERY black woman or woman of color, but it is an experience that most black women have dealt with. Some have reached just the second or third phase, and some have experienced all the phases.
What phases have you experienced?
Images credited to [Unsplash]
Kiki N. works in government. She has a bachelors degree in Sociology. She is interested in the Black women narrative and experience.
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