Observations of an Invisible Woman

Archive for the tag “racism on the job”

Dear Diary #3

I read the bible off and on and I must admit, I rather enjoy it. Whether or not you believe in the Most High, it is truly the Greatest Story Ever Told. I grew up in a household where spirituality is apart of life. I am also my Grandmother’s Soul. So when I meet certain people who give off a certain “vibe” and the hairs on the back of neck begin to tingle, I always know to follow my instincts.

X is an older 50-ish white woman at my job. Married to a well-off former salesman, she lives in the “nice” part of town, drives a Corvette and can retire early if she chooses. From the moment I met her on my interview, I knew there was something about her that I didn’t like.

X, like most whites I’ve met, is terrified of me. I picked up on her aura while she, just she, bombarded me with questions on my schooling, grades and level of education on my first day of work. She looked at my resume unbeknowst to me and questioned its validity. As I quietly watched her, I grew more and more sure of my initial assessment of her and wondered when the bomb would drop.

One day, while I was at another campus, X took a phone call from a psychiatric patient who made a series of unfounded complaints about my conduct. She immediately took her long-awaited opportunity to malign me and took the complaint to the director of the department. I knew from the jovial way she greeted me the next morning that something was awry but I had no idea it was a company write-up.

Frustrated, I asked my supervisor why the word of an unstable man was being taken over a loyal employee. I never did get that answer.

As I walked to the hospital’s tiny chapel to ask God why, I was reminded of my family’s explanation that demons walk the Earth in human form. I walked back to my department with a heavy heart needing some explanation for this never-ending curse on humanity when I spotted X looking at me. The corners of her thin, brightly-coloured lipsticked lips were curled maliciously into a “C” and her eyes gleamed. It was then that I realized my torture and terror was her heaven on Earth. The Spirit of my grandma whispered into my ear, “Demon.”

Dear Diary… #2

Last night I cleaned out my junk drawer and found the business card that I should’ve thrown out years ago. It was from my very first professional job interview. I was a new grad and eager and desperate to land my first job. I drove to a little upstate New York hospital after having a dynamite phone interview. We hit it off straight way. I dazzled him with my personality and even though he knew I was a novice, he welcomed me to meet him face to face.

Nervous and wanting to make a good impression, I picked up a large box of doughnuts, bagels and coffee from the local coffee shack. When I entered the building, I swear, movement slowed down. All of a sudden, people just turned around to openly stare at me. It was then that I knew just how very black I was.

The receptionist looked…uneasy as I approached her. Remembering my Rules of Talking to White People Manual, I smiled at her. I told her I was here to see Mr. X, from the Nursing Department. She made no move or sound. I explained that he was expecting me. She stammered, ” Have a seat, uh, miss, and I’ll let him know you’re here.”

I sat down and scanned the room. I was the only black face there.


I began to notice how everyone that walked by me was trying ever so carefully not to look at me. It was then that Mr. X walked up to me, shuffled his feet and said tentatively, ” Miss Truthbetold?” I nodded and offered him my brightest smile and extended my hand to shake. He hesitated before accepting it. We walked down this narrow corridor and I noticed that not one person who passed by looked at me directly. You know that old Urban Legend: If you look directly at a Negress, you’ll turn to dust?

I sat down when prompted and pulled out my meager resume. I was shaking. I knew that this would not end well. I felt his “vibe” all over me. He looked at my resume and said he was sorry but the department needed an experienced person. They couldn’t train anyone new. I felt defeated And for a reason that I could not explain…ashamed. I wanted to cry but stubbornly I kept my eyes dry and voice even.

“OK. Well, thanks for your time.” I got up to leave and half expected him to say something reassuring. He said nothing. I got in my car and the dam burst. I cried for allowing myself to feel the exhilaration of hope. I cried for the hate stares I received that penetrated me. For the lies he told…he knew damn well I was a novice. I cried for wasting my gas to drive up to that damn racist place. I cried for the way my blackness made everyone uncomfortable. I cried for my weakness and my curse that will never be lifted. I cried in despair. I cried in rage. I cried in fear of never finding a job.

I cried because I am black.

I drove home with a deeper understanding of what it means to be black in AmeriKlan. No college course could ever teach me that. I would no longer doubt that I was imagining things when I felt that “vibe” coming from whites. I would no longer doubt that AmeriKlan hated me for no other reason than the colour of my skin. And perhaps, most importantly, I would never again allow anyone to diminish my Black Pride. With each toll booth that passed, my depression lifted and became defiant rage. I thought about this unknown, uneasy feeling I’ve had my whole life. It was called Blackness. And now, I knew its name.

What was your first job related racist experience?

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