We are 50 years past the Civil Rights act becoming law and I’m STILL worried about being a “double” minority in my work place.
It’s been a little over 6 week’s since I started my new job and position. I am now the Marketing Director for a cannabis wholesale company. I truly love my job. I enjoy creating new ideas and honestly “just doing business.” This job truly is a dream come true. Since the day I fell in love with Cannabis I’ve wanted to be able to impact the products that make it to the market. I believe in quality and patient specific medicine and that is the core of this company.
Recently the company did a leadership change. There was no warning. The current CEO retired and then there was a new CEO the next day.
When my current CEO left the office I had a moment with my office mate. I call her my kindred spirit sister. She’s a smart humble married white woman that works part time because she has prioritized being a mother over business. Like me, she loves our God and loves people unconditionally. I call her my kindred spirit sister because she lives the life I wish I had and does that unapologetically. In the 21st century choosing to be a wife and a mother over breaking the glass ceiling is a courageous choice.
In our moment we talked about her fears and concerns. She described what she thought was her non importance. I shared with her how leadership change can be just what the company needed to get to the next level. As we chatted and I eased her concern I had indirectly eased mine as well. I finished my day and slept well that night.
The next day I came in early as I always do and began my work day. A little later the retiring CEO came in. He was uneasy and I could feel it. His energy was so nervous it was stressing me out. I had to go for a walk and dose. I knew the change was hard for him but good grief! When I returned, my office mate had started her day. She immediately told me she hadn’t slept well. I told her not to worry. Asked her to take her CBD and it would all be ok.
As the day went on everyone was becoming more and more nervous. It was driving me crazy!! As much as I tried not to give in to worry, my environment wouldn’t have it. As I sat at my desk working, it dawned on me. I am a Black woman with locs sitting in an executive role in a predominantly white Male industry. I panicked! I mean I literally panicked! I started crying and had to excuse myself.
The Civil Rights act passed to ensure that all men and women are created equal. The reality that people are STILL marching for me to get an equal wage as a woman and #BlacklivesMatter is an actual movement to remind people not to forget I’m their equal, all flooded my mind at once. I had forgotten I was black. Not that I don’t look in the mirror everyday and affirm my black beauty, but for a few weeks I was being judged on merit alone.
Don’t get me wrong I was working in black girl excellence EVERY DAY but that’s many of my sistas personal work ethic. We know someone is always after our job, so we out work everyone else as a habit. What I’m saying is, I hadn’t had to deal with anyone that didn’t know my capabilities. My ethnicity wasn’t in question because my performance spoke louder.
Here I am, in an executive office, judging myself as being “too black.” I started questioning my hair choice over my resume. I was panicking and had to share with someone. I hadn’t told my family about the change, because I didn’t need the added stress. I chose my kindred spirit sister. I knew the understanding would be a little over her head but I had shared many other intimate things with her and she handled them well. I sobbed as I told her I was concerned. I told her I share with her comfortably because we are the same and want the same things. That our friendship had allowed me to believe in the impossible again. I thanked her for loving me and affirming me as a lady not just a woman. But as much as we were the Same we are different and in THIS moment I’m super aware of our differences.
I explained to her that in spight of my loving disposition my black skin could change my being “firm” as me being aggressive. That although I’m a team player, my quick business wit could be considered non compliant and my “lets get the job done” could be considered impatient. That all the things my resume says could be non existent in the case of being black. I explained that my hair could be considered a trait of defiant or lazy behavior. I told her I was afraid of who he sees when he sees my confidence in my black skin.
Although I’m sure some of what I said was foreign to her. She didn’t disregard my fear. She emphasized and told me she wished the world was different but she knew I was right. She said exactly what I needed my “friend” to say, she said… I hope he gives himself the opportunity to know the asset you are.
I took my CBD tincture and waited for the calming effect to happen. Once it did I was ok again and I got back to work.
My new CEO did allow himself the opportunity to get to know me. AFTER he agreed to keep me on, I shared with him my concerns. I had an honest and open dialog with him. He received it and told me he’s aware of the “good ol boy” ideology of this industry but he assured me, he expected the same level of excellence from ALL his employees. He said everyone would be rewarded or not based on their merit. And I believe him.