The Workplace

The Struggles of a Black Girl in Corporate America

By: Ashley Robinson

Young. Black. Woman. Who knew 3 words would mean so much in corporate America? I guess I should’ve known when I put it that way. Those identifiers hold weight individually, but the combination lends itself to an especially critical eye from my predominantly white co-workers.

I just graduated college so I might have been a little naïve coming in. First, I thought it was my age, but then I started really paying attention. I heard stories about how race and gender impacted work relations, but those situations always seem different until you’re actually in one.

I remember the first moment I noticed so vividly. I had just been hired full time to work in a marketing position. I had the job lined up after graduation and was putting my degree to use so needless to say I was excited. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) was originally supposed to give me the job offer so I found it a little odd when my supervisor did instead. As weeks went by, he had yet to set his one-on-one meeting with me.

I noticed he seemed to be bonding and making an effort with the white, male intern very quickly though. About a week in, their one-on-one meeting was set to discuss the intern’s career goals. I sat back and realized that the CMO had no idea what I did on the day-to-day nor did he care to understand. He would come say good morning to everyone in the office including the intern, directly beside me, while ignoring my presence for months. I channeled my growing resentment into motivation.

I work in an office environment that allows casual attire everyday. Initially, I found myself admiring the fact that when my white female peers put on a dress or skirt they looked effortlessly classy. Because words like  aggressive and  dirty are sometimes associated with black women, I felt as though I wasn’t as “lady-like” and had to work harder to appear softer.

My day-to-day routine still requires more thought than my peers due to the fact that I am an African-American woman. Are my hoops too big? Does this dress hug my curves a little too much? Is my Afro “tamed” enough? Are my nails too long – the color too bright? The overly positive response to my straight hair over curly isn’t race driven, right? I found these thoughts, and often times doubts, flow into my on-the-job performance.

While I’m great at my job, I sometimes wonder if I overcompensate by trying to prove my value and myself. I second-guess decisions I normally might not have. I strive to be solely a team player and overly positive even on my off daysin an attempt to not fit into the  stereotype of the angry, black woman. This has led to coworkers perceiving me as weak and trying to get ahead by taking advantage of my kindness. I find myself working harder for less recognition. And I see the bit of surprise at my accomplishments as if my abilities were doubted. The pressure is on to represent for the educated black woman.

One of my least favorite parts about the racial divide in the workplace is being the spokesperson for all things black. If a controversial news story comes out, I seem to be the representative of the black community. If a slang term needs defining or a joke needs context, I’m the go-to. It’s almost as if my blackness isn’t up to par if I can’t help my white peers better understand black culture.

Pop culture office discussions are always trendy and appropriate until they creep to that line touching black culture. A specific example occurred when there was talk of mentioning music on our social media channels. While the Taylor Swift and One Direction part of the conversation was received well, the slightest mention of Drake (i.e. hip hop) was deemed as too risky and “targeting only black audiences”.

The irony is that black culture is embraced when it comes from a white co-worker. Using words like “gangster” and “ratchet”, majority of the time out of context, is seen as humorous. I’ve found my coworkers fall into one of two categories. The ones that do everything in their power to prove how hip they are or the completely ignorant ones.

I’ve come to the realization that is everything I mentioned stems from ignorance really. My ignorance about the worth of my melanin. Their ignorance to the queen that is before them. Ignorance that black culture is the catalyst that births pop culture. Ignorance to the power that comes with being an educated, young black woman.

Leave a Reply

31 Comments on "The Struggles of a Black Girl in Corporate America"

Leave a Comment


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Guest
Shaye
1 year 7 months ago

How did you learn to deal with this issue? What advice do you have for others in the same situation?

Guest
Tinika Page
1 year 2 months ago

I love this article i feel every bit of this like i wrote it myself

Guest
Anonymous
1 year 28 days ago

I can totally relate. This has been happening to me for over 7 years. From, saying that I change my hair too very often while trying to touch it to asking me about racially related issues. Im very tired of it.
It needs to stop

Guest
Anonymous
1 year 15 days ago

Wow !! I can so relate to this !!

Guest
2 months 2 days ago

oakley outlet store

I really need to visit this website more often, this is a gold mine of information.

Guest
1 month 30 days ago

prada on sale

Im curious if you ever have problems with what people post? Recently it seems to have become an epidemic, although it seems to be changing for the better. What are your thoughts?

Guest
1 month 29 days ago

mammut store zurich

You realistically make top quality articles I would say. This is the first time I visited your web site and so far Im impressed with the research you made to make this document amazing. Fantastic Job!

Guest
1 month 29 days ago

cheap barbour

MY PARTNER AND I dont really know what youre referring to below. this specific cant always be the only real means take into consideration this tends to that? It appears as though you understand a lot within the matter, do you know why not take a look a…

Guest
1 month 27 days ago

louis vuitton shop online

Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also use Blog Engine, and I was speculating about your experiences; we have developed some excellent practices and we would like to exchange practices with others, please Email me if you are interested. first,…

Guest
1 month 26 days ago

buy Lafuma online

Real good visual appeal on this website , Id value it 10 10.

Guest
1 month 24 days ago

cheap Pierre Hardy online

I love your website.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself or did you hire somebody to do it for you? Plz reply back as I’m looking to create my own website and would like to know where u got this from. thank you

Guest
1 month 14 days ago

marmot shop online

I’m often to blogging and i in actual fact respect your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your page and preserve checking for brand new information.

Guest
1 month 12 days ago

Mont Blanc Outlet online

bielke verros meira belladonna thammas caliman landgard Eleonore electricity

Guest

coach factory outlet online login

I would like to thank you for the time you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best blog post from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skill has inspired me to get my own blog now. Truly the blogging is spreadin…

Guest
1 month 10 days ago

discount cole haan online

Nice site, looks very organized. Finally found what Ive been looking for, thanks!

Guest
1 month 7 days ago

Armani Outlet online

Interesting and informative. But will you write about this one more? I can’t quite remember what he was selling.

Guest
1 month 5 days ago

belstaff vest sale

I am incessantly thought about this, thankyou for putting up.

Guest
27 days 18 hours ago

factory canada goose online

Thanks for the wonderful information contained here in your blog, this is a trivial quiz for your blog viewers. Who said the following quotation? . . . .A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it wor…

Guest
24 days 11 hours ago

vibram kso sale

Thank you for the great info! I would never have gotten this by myself!

Guest
24 days 1 hour ago

cheap nfl sale

You may also surprise why it has the capability to pump out more nouveau riche than different markets on the World Extensive Web.

Guest
21 days 1 hour ago

fitflops in stores

Thank you for the useful info! I wouldnt have discovered this by myself!

Guest
20 days 14 hours ago

Callaway Golf on sale

HI friends, We found your webpage and We to remember its a wonderful spot around here and I want to congratulate You are great. Please continue all the great work.

Guest
17 days 14 hours ago

henri lloyd coat

Please, can you PM me and tell me few more thinks about this, I am really fan of your bloggets solved properly asap.

Guest
17 days 2 hours ago

Mountain Hardwear sale

really liked what that you published actually. it really isnt that simple to discover great posts to read (you know really READ and not simply browsing through it like some zombie before going to yet another post to just ignore), so cheers mate for rea…

Guest
14 days 4 hours ago

marmot t shirts sale

There is perceptibly a bunch to identify about this. I feel you made certain nice points in features also.

Guest
13 days 17 hours ago

Rene Caovilla on sale

I most usually dont post in blogs but your Blog made me, beautiful writing. just unbelievable! The content are different but your Blog and Check Free Credit Score Blog are both the best I have read to this day. Keep up the good work!!

Guest
11 days 17 hours ago

moncler jackets sale

Is it alright to put part of this on my website if I post a reference to this web page?

Guest

north face outlet online store

I really like your wordpress template, exactly where do you get a hold of it through?

Guest

Mountain Hardwear jackets store

If you are like a lot of people you can simply overlook this. The best thing you can do is become relevant with yourself and faithful with your own morals. Generally this will lead to a mistaken and unproductive life.

Guest
5 days 16 hours ago

ugg shoes online

Adding to my best bookmarks many thanks, certainly think about a follow up blog post.

Guest

mountain hardwear聽outlet store richmond ca

Hello I think your blog is very good i found it on google I think will come back again

wpDiscuz