My first job out of college did not really embrace diversity. Most of my coworkers were white males which is obviously, nothing like black ole me. So I was delighted to see so many more black people in a variety of positions in my following role. On my first day, I remember seeing many of them in the same area. They all seemed happy to see me—another woman of color—in their workplace. I later found out that I replaced a black woman too, so the balance remained. The solidarity was real, or so I thought. Later on, I would become used to the personalities of these people. Their “true colors” became more and more apparent every day. It got to the point where I would avoid certain conversations or just keep it moving to prevent myself from interacting with some of them. I even had to catch myself from deep sighing and rolling my eyes around them. I know I’m not alone in this. I’m certain that there are men and women like this in your workplace too. And I’m pretty sure this is why you don’t care for your older, black coworkers:
They treat you like you are their child.
I think this is an issue when he or she is at least old enough to be our parents. They ignore your requests and catch an attitude when you say or do something that is contrary to their beliefs. Sometimes, they ask you to do things that aren’t necessarily work-related but just because you’re younger and they’re older. And they expect you to do it without complaint.
They can be super critical.
Did they make a comment when you wore a semi-tight pencil skirt last week? Did someone say anything when you decided to grab lunch that one week you didn’t have time to cook? Did your coworker jokingly mention that you’re still not married at the latest work birthday shindig your boss threw for you? Yea, these folks always have something to say.
They make assumptions.
Because they only get a glimpse of you during the 40 hours a week you are indebted to the company, they think they know everything about you. Your skin tone, attitude, mannerisms, hair style, apparel selection, and job title are just many elements that contribute to the character they make of you. They remembered that you said you were going to St. Tropez for your friend’s bachelorette weekend celebration so that and the disagreement you two had about the last season of Scandal plus your new dye job means that you’re probably going to be promiscuous. Wouldn’t be surprised if you come back with an illness or pregnant, even.
They come off as a cold and rude.
Is there that one coworker that never warmed up to you? Or did you make it known that you don’t really like Oprah and that caused a stink? Chile, who knows. Just because they’re black and you work together doesn’t meant that they owe you an amiable relationship. Note their dissent and keep it moving.
As working black women, we have way too many plights to try to appease everyone, including those that resemble our aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Our black coworkers might show a diverse workplace but they can also be pain to work with. We can respect these people as our elders and whatnot without allowing them to come into our emotional space. Basically, we get it, girl. Just learn to deal until they retire or find a new job.