Feeling Targeted Because of My Race
Dear Elder, As a young black woman working in Hospitality I find such a struggle in keeping my calm composure. I work as a Front Desk Check In Agent for a resort in Orlando, Florida. The majority of our guests happen to be Caucasian and because I am a black woman I more than occasionally I get the feeling as if I’m being looked down upon. As if I am not on the same caliber. I wear my hair naturally and due to the looks and long lasting stares I now wear my hair in Goddess Braids, pinned up, or in a twist out puff. I feel as if I don’t get many stares with now but the attitude is still the same. People are so rude and ungrateful. They truly want to argue with me and I try my hardest to not allow them to anger me but my face starts to heat up and I find myself shaking.
Now I’ve dealt with rude guests from many different backgrounds but the most I encounter are Caucasian men and women. I truly feel as if they think I’m not good enough to serve them. I’m tired of hearing people praise other ethnicities and hair types IN FRONT of me while I’m left to be strong and fend for myself. Society makes it seem like black women are on the bottom of the food chain.
I want to build up a wall where I don’t give in to this stupidity and I love all races and cultures. I want to continue to be kind. I want to embrace being a West African descendent. What should I do? How can I stop shaking and becoming nervous when someone is being difficult? How can I begin to love myself more? Also it’s hard having such a conversation like this because I’ve realized that many people do not understand nor do they really want to. It’s heartbreaking.
I can’t tell you NOT to feel offended or angry at the way you’re being treated, Honey. You have every right to feel the way you do. I should tell you that I am Caucasian so, no, I can make comparisons to exactly what your feeling and cannot stand in your shoes. But I’ll try my best to throw out a few suggestions as to how to deal with the situation and you can see if any of them make sense or seem appropriate.
First off – to survive with these miscreants…you have to find a way (and I know it’s hard) to not take it personally, because they are equal opportunity offenders and idiots. What I mean is, this has nothing to do with you or your character….it has to do with their stupidity and feelings of desperately needing to feel better than someone. You can’t change them – or society, you can only demonstrate your own truth and dignity in front of them. It’s more than they have.
My mother used to call it “turning off your hearing aide” when those types of people spewed their garbage. In no way will I compare myself to the level of what you’re experiencing…but as a young woman I was constantly on the receiving end of mocking and humiliating behavior due not only to the way I looked, but my “position” in life. It was awful. But then I had a few good friends who were African American, one who was Caucasian but morbidly obese…and these people just let things roll off of them. They just didn’t seem to care. They were incredible people – who had full lives and, when they left work or wherever the source of some of their unpleasantness dwelled…they filled their lives with people and activities that brought them up. It could have been a hobby, volunteer work, classes, whatever. They understood that life was a sum of all of them and what they were doing at work was simply a means to pay rent and get to their real selves. Did they feel bad at times? The wouldn’t be human if they didn’t. But they knew who they were. I may not have succeeded as well as they did but I too learned to let things roll. The jerks who were making comments weren’t worth the air they took up to speak their foolishness. And as I got older and watched myself and those friends succeed at having a better life…well, who ended up ahead?
See if you can work on having a life outside the job. If it’s really awful, then you can look for another position but jobs are hard to come by and that could take a while. The folks making those comments have a skewed view of beauty and decency and truly live in a limited world. Surrounding yourself with those who appreciate what YOU have and bring to the table will help, I feel, to deafen the “noise” you’re hearing from those who do not matter. I hope I’ve made some sense and can only hope you can feel better and let their comments become unimportant gibberish. Good luck.