“I’m offended that you would say those things about me.” Offended? As if he knew I was confused, he repeated himself with more emphasis on the word ‘offended’. My shift was over and I was trying to go home when I was suddenly being lectured about how much this person and their family does to supposedly combat racism. A clear sign of white fragility from one of the last people I expected it from. I don’t remember the rest of the one-sided conversation, as I was busy fighting back tears until I could get to my car and leave. The crazy part is that he had all day to craft his message, yet still attacked me with some white savior BS.
You may be asking what I said about this person. The answer is nothing. All I did was tell my own truth. I explained how some ways that I was being talked to and treated made me feel as a Black woman in my position at work. I even made it a point in a meeting that same morning (and an email that led to this meeting) to say that I know that the ways in which I was being hurt were not intentional, but that these were feelings that I couldn’t shake simply because of who I am.
I thought the meeting would clear things up, but apparently I was wrong. The next few months continued to be a struggle, one that my therapist still hears about because I’m still having a hard time working through the entire situation.
“And people of color will leave. They will leave because they’re tired. Or they will become less of themselves in order to stay. And that is the honest to goodness truth.” Austin Channing Brown, author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness said it best in an Instagram chat about the beginning of her book. I tried to stick it out but became extremely exhausted. That is when I decided to take a break and simply focus on myself, snowboarding, and instructing this past winter.
During my break, I spent a lot of time working on myself and working through a lot of things with my therapist. As we abruptly hit quarantine time, I was emotionally in the best place I’ve been in years. Then it was time to make my return to work (because there’s no way I’d stay sane not working and just living off of unemployment). That return didn’t last long.
“I have tried to stay and succeed in organizations that did not value who I am… and the only option was for me to get fired.” Another commonality between myself and Austin Channing Brown. I was “let go” from the job that I had for over seven years, and even gaslit to think that my emotional health is what was making my job a difficult situation, when it wasn’t that at all.
The past few months since then have been quite the struggle. I genuinely enjoyed my former job. I’m extremely thankful for everything I learned, and proud of all the things I did as general manager that I won’t get credit for. I especially miss my work crew. My emotional health has taken a dive, and my new job isn’t doing much for my sanity. I’m trying to keep my head up and waiting for better things to come.