From the Washington Post Lifestyle section:
By Natachi Onwuamaegbu [Tweet her]
But don’t the Onwuamaegbus have a whole continent where they’d be free from white microaggressions?
Yesterday at 6:00 a.m. EDT
After seven years of corporate life, Mary Smith had a routine: putting extra effort into her hair (so as to not appear too Black) and her demeanor (ditto) and her clothes (you can probably guess).
But once she got a taste of the work-from-home life during the pandemic, Smith knew she could never go back. Her scalp was free from constraining hairstyles, and she could disappear from the screen if a colleague said something insulting.
A few months ago, her employer asked her to begin the transition back to in-person work. So she quit. “I was just very strongly against that,” said the 29-year-old project manager in Irving, Tex.
After the coronavirus sent millions of employees home, many Black women experienced a workday free of the micro- and macroaggressions that followed them at their predominantly White workplaces. They had the privacy to grieve the countless deaths that led to the racial unrest of last summer — without having to pretend to be okay for the comfort of their colleagues. And, naturally, many don’t want to return.
Working from home means missing out on networking and social interactions ingrained in the workday. But many Black women have solved this problem by gathering together into pods, a trend that predates the pandemic. People from a variety of disciplines meet to work alongside each other at a coffee shop, a co-working space or a backyard. These groups break the workday bubble of solitude and allow for community without fake niceties or hair-touching.
In June, Smith started a new virtual job and created a FaceTime co-working group. When she needs to focus or is struggling to find motivation, she texts her group chat and sets up a call. Together, they work mostly in silence for hours on end, pausing for a joke or if they need advice.
“My co-workers are my best friends,” said Smith, “because I had the freedom to choose.”
Camille Jadé Villegas, a 32-year-old unemployment claim worker in Chicago, never expected to enjoy working from home — she’s always been an extrovert. But the freedom to be herself and have her camera off — so that clients and co-workers don’t immediately know she’s a Black woman — has been electric. In the absence of an office space, she’s created several communities with other Black women: a book club, an exercise group and a healing circle she calls “makeshift therapy.”
“I was forced to be uncomfortable for the sake of financial stability,” she said. “Now I feel safe. I love it.” …
The office hadn’t been her favorite place — as a Black woman, she felt she was expected to be friendly to everyone, look presentable and field inappropriate personal questions. …
… “When Philando Castile died, I didn’t take off work, and the hurt that I felt … I just felt like these people don’t care,” said Adeniji, referencing the 32-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by police in 2016 during a Minnesota traffic stop. Last year, she was finding that “I can speak with my community by myself. I’m able to talk about this tragedy online without having to actually walk into work and see that no one cares about it.”
…Black workers in Chicago spent six more minutes than White workers commuting, according to an analysis of data from 2010 to 2014. …
It’s hard to say what exactly was the last straw for Aly Wood. Her tech job was comfortable, but her predominantly White co-workers made her feel anything but. Every day she would field questions about her skin, her body, how her hair changed, why she wore the clothes she did, why she smiled, why she didn’t smile.
… “You can’t truly choose who you interact with and don’t interact with in the office place. You’re just supposed to interact with everyone, have a smile on your face, deal with what everyone says all the time. It’s unrealistic, it’s abusive and it’s unfair.”
Are white-collar black women really as racist as all these articles in the Washington Post by women journalists with African names make them sound? I have pleasant memories about most of the black women I worked with in Chicago. But I’m a man, and I get the impression that most of racist hate being expressed in these articles is aimed at non-black women rather than men.
But because straight white men are the designated devils, the Narrative demands that the details of exactly what kind of people get on the nerves of black women so much—non-black women—be kept obscure. Consider:
Every day she would field questions about her skin, her body, how her hair changed, why she wore the clothes she did, why she smiled, why she didn’t smile.
I can imagine a few extroverted white sales guys asking “Why the long face?” But hardly as much as black guys would say. And maybe some gay white men will want to know about her new hairstyle, but most of this supposed stuff sounds a lot more interesting to women than to straight white men.