Several years back I was having lunch with a dear sister-friend. We were sharing stories about some of the strange as hell things that come up when trying to go about the business of living life as a person of color. HLW is a first generation American, so her experience includes the added ingredient of how Americans treat immigrants.
As often happens when me and mine get on this topic, we dissolved into a fantabulous round of I can top that shit.
ABB’s initial offering…
I used to sell media…Hispanic, black (what the industry so graciously called Urban) and “general market”.
You’ve got to love that…general market…Lawd.
Anyhoo, I was the only black woman in an office of 100 and often got called in to offer my two cents on anything “urban”…but I was in no way only selling “ethnic” media (wink). So, when a co-worker came up to me to confront me about kicking her ass on a piece of business by getting my we play Peter Cetera and we’re proud of it general market station…and she led with “I thought that you only sell black radio”…well, you can imagine that things got awkward real fast amongst the cubes.
I responded with The ABB Clarification Maneuver- Version 33 (not a sophisticated move, but the moment wasn’t really worthy of sophisticated correction).
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
She flustered, sputtered and gasped.
“Why would you think that I only sell black radio?"
She went red and then very pale.
"And what do you mean by black radio exactly?”
That office was quite as a motherfucker and then she ran away.
Works every time...and saves me the trip to Human Resources to address some idiot child who will relinquish her slot in 6 months to then next idiot child poised to graduate unprepared for diversity in the workplace.
HLW. hit back with…
Mmhmm, my mother and I were shopping at (insert expensive as hell store). We were gossiping in Chinese and having a great time. At the counter the sales woman told me the total loud as hell…which was weird because if I didn’t understand English shouting it at me wasn’t going to help. She then turned to the other sales woman and said “I hate it when they can’t speak English but I love the commissions.”
I put my credit card back in my wallet and said…in English to my mother, who speaks five languages fluently including English… “God I hate it when they do shit like this but I just love getting them fired.”
I had to give it to her… “Go on, girl! Nice!”
We went on and on until we were dissolving in laughter…tears running down our faces. It was one of those moments shared by two women of different background but a somewhat shared experience.
So, what the hell made a bitch think of that?
Well, it dawned on me the other day when C-Money and I were having a similar conversation that this is the bullshit that weigh on a sister’s soul despite the laughter.
Just because these incidents don’t make us question our worthiness doesn’t mean that they don’t sting a bit…that they don’t cause a pause…that they don’t press down and make a simple shopping excursion into a fucking segment of Eyes on the Prize.
And it damned sure doesn’t mean that not responding in kind is easy.
Shit, not responding with equal ignorance is hard work.
Which reminds me of something I once overheard at a minority business conference when a brother said “If I addressed every act of bigotry against me I’d have another full time job and I’d hate that one too.”
Hell, it’s all I can do to avoid commercials for Paula Zahn’s new prime time race-baiting segment on CNN.