No, I was not meeting Eminem (the Real Slim Shady), but I was getting some shade.
I’ve been working here (as a Director) for a little over a year. She’s been here for slightly over two months.
There was a breakfast event hosted by my fiduciary which is her employer. No details necessary, just know that we see each other five days a week.
Anyway, I walked in the breakfast event yesterday and greeted every single employee of my fiscal sponsor agency. Some of us even embraced each other with hugs and yada yada yada chit chat. She watched each of these exchanges as she waited her turn. I finally get down to her and say, “Good Morning, How Are You”. And then this happened. She reached out her hand and proceeded to introduce herself. She said, “Hi, My Name Is ______”. I paused waiting for the punchline or the phony workplace laugh. You know those phony exchanges you have with some co-workers that only interact with you with meaningless banter because they think they should, yeah that. When I realized she was serious, I said “I am Randi, I work with you……”, with a raised eyebrow and a hint of confusion (not really). She said, “Oh, I didn’t recognize you because you usually don’t dress up. You usually are wearing jeans. And you are usually in your cubicle (the only thing she had right) working on your stuff (must be nothing since I don’t even know what you do).”
Sounds like an innocent mishap, right?
Well not really when you consider how all kinds of wrong she ways. First, I walk past her office every morning to get my coffee. We also cross paths in the kitchen and have yada yada type convos about the spoils of food leftover from meetings, yeah that meaningless phony chit chat. Second, I don’t wear jeans. Why was this a problem? Well, where do I begin. It is a problem because there is another person of color who does wear jeans often and does not dress up (not required). This person happens to sit right outside her office. I am guessing she only remembers that one black person at the office and somehow I confused her by being “dressed up” and saying I work there.
I have a rule about what I choose to write about. I only write about the things that stick with me hours after they happen. This happened yesterday at 8:45 AM and when I woke up this morning at 5:45 AM (my usual rise and shine time), this did run across my mind. When this happens, I feel it is the universe telling me to do something with it. For now, I am just writing about it.
So why did this bother me.
Well, as a black woman I am once again reminded how black women are invisible even in spaces where they are in the minority (number wise) and hold high professional positions.
As a Director, within the agency she works for, she didn’t even take the time to remember the following. The moment when she started her position and introduced myself to her and the fact that I pass her office every morning on my way to the kitchen and I NEVER WEAR JEANS. This is what got me because I do recall a co-worker telling me that while I was away when I first started my job, which the office had an entire lunch conversation about my wardrobe. I guess this convo took place I dress up ALL THE DAMN TIME. I used to work retail, which means I have a lot of clothes, most of them high-end office attire (thanks to Talbots, Limited, Ann Taylor, and NY&Co.) But in this woman’s mind, all black women look alike and someone who is walking into that breakfast meeting slaying the work runway, could not have been the girl that wears jeans every day.
Yeah, I actually wasn’t her, but the fact that you can’t tell the three black women apart in an office of about fifteen people, is a not a simple mix up in my opinion. What this tells me, is that even when there is three of us, you cannot tell which one from which because once you have seen one black girl, you have seen them all.
I started to wear jeans today, but couldn’t find a pair.