Image credit: Sasha Kim
Before working for myself, I held several roles in predominantly white workspaces. Clients and staff would say racist things, and there was nowhere to go for support. Instead of being appropriately handled, the most egregious incidents were passed off as a figment of my perception or an "innocent misunderstanding."
Many of my former co-workers now proudly proclaim themselves as allies and believe that they would have offered their help back in the day if only I had informed them. Really? As if their failure to obtain a lifetime of self-education was somehow my responsibility.
Before 2020, white workers worldwide failed to see the racism right in front of them, and they ridiculously thought posting black squares on social media for a day would be enough. Those who demanded education are now "shocked" to see how their normalized behaviours toward non-white folx are exclusionary and xenophobic. Aspiring allies and the willfully ignorant have A LOT of work to do. Racism is a vile ideology constructed with the express purpose of elevating whiteness, and for over 400 years, white folx have "unconsciously" enjoyed the systems that prioritize their existence within a meritless social hierarchy. Racism is an institutionalized scourge that only white people can collectively eradicate. Although every generation has witnessed a concrete demonstration of white patriarchal violence which has created pockets of newly aware white people, their movements go nowhere substantial as those with power sit in awe of all the history they intentionally repeat.
Self-declared allies get upset, shout out their commitment to change, and generally lose interest in 12-18 months once the headlines fade. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
So what are Black folx to do? Where can we armour up to navigate predominantly white work settings? How do we fend off the "mistakes" made by those still "listening and learning?" And, how do we co-exist with harmful co-workers who try to objectify us as tools to support their painfully basic lessons in humanity?
While there is no one definitive solution, some of the challenges bestowed upon us can be alleviated via constructive discussion away from "the gaze." Black people need a space to talk about being Black at work, especially if we are one of few or an only. If you are Black and are cool with interacting with all of our intersections therein, join the mailing list for The Lunch Counter.
This space is designed by and for those who are:
Black and proud.
Black and spiritual, religious, or non-denominational.
Black and queer.
Black and dope.
Thick, thin, short, or tall, if you are Black, I welcome you all.
The Lunch Counter is a dedicated space for:
Black introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts.
Black weave queens, box braiders, and wig wearers.
Black folx who are newly exploring their Blackness.
Black folx who are non-binary and trans.
Young Black folx and parents who look young enough to be their child's sibling.
If you are unapologetically Blackity Black and can hold space to support other Black folx who have both similar and markedly different experiences than your own, bring your bonnet and join me at The Lunch Counter.
👩🏻: But Kimberley, I am not Black and want to support your equity-focused dialogue.
👩🏽: Great, you are welcome to subscribe or generously tip my open content-sharing space, Salt Box.
FYI: Access to this room in my house is not necessary to facilitate your anti-racism allyship journey. So, instead of trying to place yourself in a space where Black folx seek support, go invest your energy into dismantling the systems that cause the harm that warrants the need for closed spaces. Cool?
A huge part of equity is understanding and endorsing the existence of safe spaces where folx who share a common identity can gather, share, grieve, vent, and ki-ki without those protected by systemic oppression being in the room. Aspiring allies who have done the work will understand what I am saying without issue. Those who get upset and shed tears of entitlement are part of the problem and substantiate the need for this private space.
Seats at The Lunch Counter will be vetted to protect its integrity. Subscribe for updates.
Let's live in equanimity together,