Walking in from lunch, I asked the receptionist seated in the front of my building, “What’s on the calendar for the conference room?” — She was on an informal phone call. This little girl held up her finger.
Internally, I calmed myself, responded with her name and repeated the question. At which point she stopped her conversation and let me know the conference room schedule. As I was walking away, she returned to her call spitting nastily, “sorry, that is the famous corporate black girl.”
I smiled and walked on.
Because I am the corporate black girl.
I am the only black person in my office building.
What can I do? I am constantly managing the space around me because I am alone. I can’t afford to have an attitude in my voice like the recepitionist. No. Fix your tone J. Head up. Breathe. No attitude. Quiet your voice. Watch your facial expressions…. Because they are watching you.
When I’m not the first one in the office in the morning I see the smirks; when I am the first one in I see the disgust. I never leave too early. Always watching and negotiating the space around me. Because I am alone.
I do my job and the job of people two and three levels higher than me. I do the jobs of people that have no idea where to find their job descriptions. I work my ass off because if I don’t they will get rid of me. I am always on the brink of losing every fucking thing I worked so damn hard for.
I understand that breath Russell Westbrook is taking on a different level — When you are a coporate black woman you keep a string of inner thoughts always on hand. —
Smile JLee. They watching. They want to know if you are as strong as legends say. They testing you girl. Don’t break. Just pray. And smile. This is corporate America. You made it girl. Composure.
Never talk to anyone too much. They will tell your business and laugh behind your back. ‘You can’t take joke’ they will say. Oh, ‘you know how sensitive you can be’ they will chatter. ‘I knew she would be trouble’ they will swear. Keep to yourself. And watch your damn face JLee. It’s not a big deal. You made it. Just outwork them all. Keep working.
But the reality is that no one in that building wants to work for me. Including the receptionist. They don’t want me to win because then they may not get to make the same jokes. Or laugh the same laughs. They don’t want me to win because I will make them work. I will make them accountable.
Because I am. I am accountable for every single movement of face. The way my voice intermingles in conversation, the way I use it in negotiation. Every way that I take a breath can be misconstrued at any moment. There is a thin line between the corporate black girl and the corporate black bitch. I. am. personally. accountable… And I used to be alone.
Well, I am not alone in this life anymore. Thanks to the site I am hoping to share my creative, crazy, twisted, ‘did-she-just-say-that’ journey. Because from now until the forseeable future, we are in this together.
Written by — W.D. Herstun with humblyJlee
I am the owner and CEO of Humbly Hustling. A t-shirt line that is DOPE! It is changing the game! I am a true Virgo, a loyal friend, and a vibe that is truly unmatched. I am a lover of Jesus Christ, without Him who are we? I have favor bestowed upon me like no other, and for that I am forever thankful. However, I will get you right back together the moment you step out of formation. Don’t trip he ain’t through with me yet! 😂 I consider myself quite hilarious, why be serious all the time? I am the corporate black girl and welcome to my world!
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