Sunday, November 29, 2015

Great time to be a Black Girl

OK, so I've been thinking about writing this post for a while. Maybe like a week or two. Look that's a while, to have an idea keep poking at you. So, it's been in the back of my mind. Anyway, I'm on facebook, and a friend shares a link to an article about a Black Girl whose offer letter was revoked due to her hairstyle (braids). She didn't mention the company, but was just venting about the blatant discrimination. So from there it got me thinking, replying to my friends link, and then transitioning to my Black Women rule the world spiel. So here goes...

When I started my corporate career I tried to conform to my perception of what I thought was appropriate and acceptable. That included my hair. At one point I was natural, but as I started working I transitioned to perms and straight weaves. In my mind that was what was acceptable in that culture.

Not only that, other Black professionals reinforced the same message, particularly Black women. They always pointed to those who wore natural hairstyles, as those who had tenure within the company, and had reached a plateau within their career. But as God would always have it, I'd always encounter one Black woman, who contradicted that image. Simply she was successful, she was doing it, making the money, qualified and natural. Well dang, I thought that wasn't allowed. So in my head, jealousy and all I'd wonder what was so special about her. Why was she accepted.

Aside from my hair, many can relate to this in terms of attire. You know how it goes, we go to an interview, you have it drilled in you to wear a Black, Blue, or Grey suit. Understate the makeup, look polished and all that jazz. Early on in my career, and in my interviews I looked physically uncomfortable. Because I was! I was wearing an outfit that wasn't true to me, and I was playing the role of who I thought the interviewee or my supervisor and colleagues wanted me to be. So I'm walking around impersonating this image in my head.

Finally I became more confident. At least with my apparel. Funny enough, it was through the blog, where I developed my personal style. I'd share it with family and friends, get feedback, and with time felt comfortable with my personal style. So when interview time came around, I bought myself a red bag, and would find small ways to accent the traditional Black/Blue suit with pieces of my personality. As I evolved and continued on with the interview process, I became bolder and bolder. Now granted I'm confident there are some jobs, I probably didn't get, due to my pops of color. But hey, if that was the reason why I wasn't a good fit, then that was a good reason! Because I was not going to be a good fit. :-)

So I'm my true self as it pertains to fashion. But that pesky being Black thing, and my hair being nappy and all were hard to run from. I still perceived a European aesthetic as the way to excel in corporate America. And this is where experience comes in. While experience didn't teach me the exact ingredients to success in corporate, it did teach me what didn't work or matter. Now don't get it twisted, these perceptions I had of what was acceptable, were supported and reinforced in my work environment by all levels, and races/ ethnicity. So it's not a barrier I created within my head. It definitely is an established standard. But being a Black Girl trying to conform to that standard is like playing a game in which you'll always place second. Because the standard and the bar is not you. So you are actually fighting against who you are to win. And how is that possible, let alone healthy.

So this is the oh snap your Black, realization I came to. Not so much that oh your Black, but more so, your playing a game that wasn't meant for you to win.  Regardless of my hair style, dress attire, and or vernacular if your in a company that is not open to diversity (as in it doesn't accept you as you are), then kudos to them for their honesty, and them respecting your time.What?!?!

Think about it, working in such an environment you'd never be able to be you, you'd never be able to perform at your maximum potential, express your thoughts or be creative. Because in the back of your mind, you'd always hold back on the piece that is you, and only give what you think is acceptable. Stifling yourself and the company from growth. I'm not saying cross all these companies off as options, but rather expand your search beyond them, be creative, bold and fearless. Venture to an unknown sector. Know that this isn't your only option to success.

Contrary to belief, it's a Great time to be a Black Woman. Due to social media, there are so many ways to connect, view, and be exposed to the awesome things other Black Women are accomplishing around the world. To add to that, there are so many ways to connect, view, and be exposed to the awesome things people are are accomplishing around the world.

Never has there been a time where we've had so much access to resources. Be it hair care. Which completely matters! Makeup, clothing, fashion tips, career tips, dating, marriage, interracial dating, cooking, finances, entrepreneurship. Variety in shades, colors, and beauties. Truth of the matter is - Black Girls were always doing it, but now, we have access to the world.

To close, whenever I hear of a company intentionally excluding an ethnic group, I laugh, because all that sounds like to me, is opportunity for that ethnic group to get into that line of business and cater to that particular market. Nappy hair and all :-)


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