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diaryofanegress

Observations of an Invisible Woman

Dear Diary #1

I got a phone call last night from X, a white ex-classmate of mine. I was surprised to hear from her. We weren’t that close. She told me that she found the piece of paper in her address book that had my number on it and she felt the urge to call me. I listened as she explained how she felt regarding an incident that had happened when we worked and studied together.

When we were students, we ended up in the same hospital for our clinical rotation. It was a monstrous hospital, ever growing and very hard to get into. She, being a blonde from Staten Island, fitted in nicely with the other girls who loved to talk about TV shows, waxing their eyebrows and dumb things their boyfriends did.

Me, being black, working class, from NYC, who prefered books to TV and never revealed anything too personal…well…you know the rest. To say I stuck out like a sore thumb was putting it mildly. There was a tension in the room at all times whenever I was present. I now know that the name of that tension is called, “White Anxiety“. There was this one Italian girl, let’s call her Y, who hated the sight of me. Y did everything in her power to fuck me up. From giving me wrong information about policies and procedures, banning me from entering the patient’s room( that’s how we learned pertinent exams…from observing ) and…finally, writing a letter to the administration team of my school, imploring them not to let me graduate. I was written, in great detail, to be: Absent( 2 times in my entire internship ), argumentative, defiant, slow, aggressive and as someone who will “never make it.”

I cried openly the day when I was summoned to the administrator’s office. School was expensive and we didn’t have the money to begin with. They wondered what had happened to cause this woman to say such atrocious things about my character especially when I had gotten good reviews everywhere else. I pondered the consequences of telling the truth. I lied. I said I don’t know. From the look on his face, I knew that he didn’t believe me. The thing that stuck out for me, was this girl X. The same girl who witnessed my pain and suffering but said nothing. She saw and heard…but turned the blind eye. I’m not mad. Her education and career was on the line too. As you can guess, I did graduate and eventually moved on to my career.

So…why the phone call from X? It was to tell me that the day she found my number on the crumpled piece of paper, guilt hit her and she couldn’t sleep. She explained how she wanted to say something in my defense but nerves and fear won out over doing the “right thing.” She said she was sorry for all the things that happened and wishes now, that she, a mother of a black boy and wife to a black man, had spoken out on racism in the workplace. She asked me to forgive her for something so potent, so dangerous yet so widespread…silence.

Sure, X. No problem. That was ages ago. But now that your eyes are finally opened…please…next time…speak.

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22 thoughts on “Dear Diary #1

  1. mary burrell on said:

    You know Sister that was a total bitch move on that white girl’s part. Trying to undermine someone. Always feeling threatened when a person of color is trying to accomplish something to better themselves. When you were in the administators presence you could’nt just really tell the truth that these witches were just a bunch of racist bitches. Now she ‘s coming to you with some weak shiggity about being sorry and yes she was a weak bitch. So now she understands why could’nt she just do the right thing and call her other fellow students out for their racisim. so now that she’s wit a brother she understands. Well it a little to goddamn late. But at least she understands what racism is i guess. You are a eloquent writer I hope you write a book. keep on keeping on.

  2. Prepare to have this broad phone you when she has problems with her negro husband or son. I bet any money, she has seen racism at close quarters more frequently as it pertains to her kerchief head husband and by extension her son. She is looking for an ally to vent to. This is but the opening. Watch out , unless you want to be entertained!

  3. mary burrell on said:

    Your’e an eloquent writer and I hope you keep sharing your’e heart and mind. I totally can relate to what happened to you. I used to work in neonatal icu back in the day and i can’t tell you how racist the staff was. Everyday i would just be so wounded and hurt and could’nt process what i was feeling. I was’nt trying to do something like you be a professional. I was just a lowly unit clerk. But they did some evil shit back then It was the late 80’s and early 90’s . I was just trying to pay my bills be an independant young woman liviing on my . I was an aspiring actrss back then. But i tried to go get professional help with a therapist. And would’nt you know i was trying to tell her about the racist comments and attitudes of the department. This is Dallas Texas. The bitch turned it around on me and said I was racist. You know what fuck her, I kind of understand why our people don’t trust white medical profesionals when it comes to our emotions and psyches. I was thinking about studying psychology. I medicated myself smoking pot and writing in my journals because i was so angry. knowbody understood what i was experiencing. But i admire you. That’s why i like your blog spot. It says what I want to say but are’nt articulate to express in my own words. Whew! Had to get that off my chest. I too feel invisible.

  4. mary burrell on said:

    @Herneith Kercheif head husband. LOL!!!

  5. I forgave them, all of them, a long time ago. God has a funny way to making things right in the end.

  6. I harbour no resentment for any of them but I will admit something to you…I no longer keep company with whites. I’ll write about that in a future post.

  7. I meet a lot of coloured women, blacks especially, who feel invisible. Because we are. Not only are we brown but we’re girls. 2 strikes against us.

    Get it off your chest…it helps. That’s why I write…I pour myself into my writing so I can face this crazy world.

  8. ynotme on said:

    Negress,

    You did the right thing by forgiving those bitches, because forgiveness is the key to Godliness.

  9. LOL! You sound like Miss Mary B.!
    Thanks.

  10. I recenty dealt with a VERY similar situation. In the presence of my racist white supervisor, his racist phillipino supervisor, and the racist Iranian representative from human resources I said the following and I quote: “It appears to me that my Supervisor retained a page from the 101 racial stereotypes of black women handbook to develope that unsubstantiated and false diatribe about me”. Now this is AFTER I received a superior work eval and bonus a couple months ago ( I’m a scientist in Pharma).

    And I wish you could have seen the look on their faces, it was priceless!! At any rate, I’ll be turning in my resignation when I return on Tuesday, and taking a little time off before I embark on an research fellowship at a local medical school later this summer.

    Moral of the story, God ALWAYS provides for those who remain faithful!!!

  11. Excellent. Good luck to you on your research fellowship.

  12. Michelle on said:

    I think that her apology was meaningless. I commend you on being strong and forgiving. I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t…but the fact that she couldn’t sleep and was feeling guilt so many years later when there was nothing she could to to correct it at that time…well in my opinion her apology was for selfish reasons and meant to ease her guilt…not to try and heal what she had done to hurt you as a human being.

    I am very interested in reading the blog that you are writing about why you “… no longer keep company with whites.” Please let me know the name of the blog so I can read it. I am being sincere…I want to learn why you and others that I have met feel this way. I know it has to do with racism in general…but I would like to understand why you are segregating yourself from all whites. Please don’t take this as me trying to challenge your experiences. That is not my intent…only to try and understand.

  13. Michelle:

    I will publish “Why I longer keep company with whites” this week. I’m putting the finishing touches on it..

  14. Sista your clarity and recall are excellent and it was really easy to read. Your are indeed a writer.

    Now, I must be the worst person in the world because in these situations I would not be so nice. My patience is far to thin to put up with any coming close to this. You did the right thing I’m sure.

    Thank you.

  15. Meeeee neither!!!

  16. I will post ” Why I No…” this week. I will be brutally honest, my worst trait and best asset.

  17. nicoleh73 on said:

    I understand how you feel. I remember when I was at my former job, I was one of the few black folks who worked there. I used to have anxiety attacks being around them. I remember feeling fearful. I wasn’t afraid that they were going to do something to me physically, but I felt as though I needed to protect myself from them emotionally and mentally. I work from home now and I’m a lot happier. I feel more safe and secure now.

    I was born and raised in Harlem, so white people were never really a part of my world on an intimate level. Most of my classmates were either Black, Latino or Asian. I felt very safe and loved in my community. It wasn’t until I went out into the work place that It felt like major culture shock being around them.

    Thank you for this post, and your honesty.

  18. Thank you for yours.

  19. Speechless…

  20. Ms TBT

    Wow!

    Reading this brought back very similar memories. I think you did the right thing not for her but for yourself. Bitterness is an awful thing to carry, it strangles dreams and hopes. It’s intended goal is to diminish and distract us from our greatness. I know of many people who got hurt too many times and just gave up. Your various successes will be the best revenge against all those who tried to stop you.

    P.S Your work rate is crazy. You put my one post a week to shame 🙂

  21. I try to forgive..it’s not easy and requires looking into yourself as well as others…I struggle with it, a lot but I do try.

  22. This woman has been ‘niggardized’ and feels like you can relate. I agree with another person who said she’ll probably be calling b/c I’m sure she can’t tell her white girlfriends all the stuff she wants to heap on you. My mom has always told me that white people will befriend you JUST to heap all their garbage on you. Tell you shit they would never tell other whites. Like we want to hear their shit. I never forgot Roots, Kizzy & Missy Ann. That angle of the story has always stayed with me.

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