Thursday, March 01, 2007

Black History Month: A Time for Reflection

As Black History Month comes to a close, I take a moment to reflect. To reflect on all the hell Corporate America put me through over the years as an African-American. I was either too dark-skinned, too ethnic, too opinionated, too in-your-face, too white (can you believe that one???) to this or too that to fully achieve the kind of success my ancestors fought and died for.

My experience in Corporate America was very much like being enslaved. They worked me to death and could never find it in their hearts to give me a break every now and then.

For example, even though I was the only single parent in my department at the time I was given the worst shift. They set my daughter up to fail by not allowing me to be home when she arrived home from school so I could help her with her homework and keep her grounded. Despite my numerous requests to get a shift change I was always told they would consider it but of course, they never did. Instead, they kept a white man in the "primary position" who always complained and nobody liked. In another case, I was the employee in the department with the MOST experience but when it came time for a promotion, they gave it to a less qualified, younger white woman. Why? I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

There was one manager who had the nerve to tell me I wanted him to show me favoritism because of my race when I questioned why I wasn't informed about a story change. Now, to me, that's just called keeping everybody informed and common courtesy. I guess in the end it all balanced out because they had to deal with me and MENOPAUSE---and believe me, it was no fun for them.

But as Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently put it: "Free at last, free at last....Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!" March 2006 was my my last month in Corporate America saying "Yessuh...Nawsuh..." These days if I fail, I have no one to blame but MYSELF.

I do thank my forefathers and mothers, known and unknown, who paved the way for me to achieve the success I have today. But I am a little sad that they had to go through so much and we're still catching hell!

They take my kindness for weakness.
They take my silence for speechless.

They consider my uniqueness strange.
They call my language slang.

They see my confidence as conceit.
They see my mistakes as defeat.

They consider my success accidental.
They minimize my intelligence to "potential".

My questions mean "I'm unaware".
My advancement is somehow unfair.

Any praise is preferential treatment.
To voice concern is discontentment.

If I stand up for myself, I'm too defensive.
If I don't trust them, I'm too apprehensive.

I'm defiant if I separate.
I'm fake if I assimilate.

Yet, constantly I am faced with work place hate.
My character is constantly under attack.

Pride for my race makes me, "TOO BLACK".
Yet, I can only be me. And, who am I you might ask?

I am that Strong Black Person...
Who stands on the backs of my ancestor's achievements, with an
erect spine pointing to the stars with pride, dignity and respect
which lets the work place in America know, that I not only possess
the ability to play by the rules, but I can make them as well!
Black History 365

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