#BlackWomenAtWork will go mute if society doesn’t find a term stronger than ‘racism’

By Ciara Rouege

I’m uncomfortable having conversations about the discrimination facing black women with people who aren’t black, especially if the person is not a minority.

It just always feels like a waste of time because I can’t find…the words or even the hand gestures to express myself. It’s a socioeconomic cluster bang, trying to explain experiences tied to elaborate institutions built on racist, ageist, religious and sexist principles and then translating that into simple words.

Especially when, like most English speakers, the only word I’m able to use is: racism.

Racism, a topic or term that studies show a significant number of white social media users filter out of their feeds.

When I learned #BlackWomenAtWork was trending, I didn’t have to drop it into the search box to have an exact idea of what to expect. It’s a conversation I’m constantly having with other black women.

Activist Brittany Packnett popped the bottle on this hot-button issue after she tweeted Tuesday in response to inappropriate comments U.S. Press Sec. Sean Spicer and conservative news commentator Bill Reilly made regarding the hair of prominent black female professionals.

O’Reilly made a tongue-in-cheek comment about ignoring black Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ latest comments about Trump because, as he said:  “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig,”

During a White House press conference later that day, Spicer angrily told black veteran journalist April Ryan to stop shaking her head in response to everything he said.

Two assholes. One shit stain on the internet: racism.

Of course, Packnett’s invitation was met with great support. Black women started pouring in and sharing their workplaces stories because, whether you’re first lady of the United States or a cashier at DD’s Discounts, you probably have a whole bibles worth of testimonies.

Our workplace experiences — both blatant and passive-aggressive — are about more than black women being misunderstood or losing out on opportunities they deserve. 

Being a black woman in the workplace is pushing to accomplish more — or even small things — in a world that beats you down without remorse through double standards and contradictions.

While we tweet our fingers off and chuckle in response to our shared injustice, the world watches on thinking what’s racist about hair?  Or responds in rage because even though most have no clue what black women are experiencing in the workplace, they know ‘racism’ is the multicultural, liberal community’s cue to flip out.

Racism equals bad.

It’s 2017, and #BlackWomenAtWork is a social media trend, seriously! Despite people talking about the problem on Twitter, the complaints are falling on death ears.

Your hair isn’t just hair, it’s a spectacle because it’s ‘exotic,’ ‘unprofessional’ or ‘interesting.’ Who wouldn’t be uncomfortable in such an environment?

It’s a social oppression whose enforcement goes beyond ideologies or political affiliation. Because, let’s face it, the solution exists beyond the law.

Over past generations, we’ve watched society unclothe its racial consciousness. First, allowing blacks citizenship, and then permitting them the right to vote, and soon the right to sit among others in restaurants and to live in their neighborhoods — all problems that were reversed with legality.

In 2017, ‘racism’ has become a supercharged and overused word that overlooks the subtle prejudice present in social interactions because it doesn’t distinguish between malicious and non-malicious intent.

Hundreds of women speaking out in unison is empowering, but if the ultimate goal is change, those words must speak to the masses.

We’re hiking the same mountain as our mothers and grandmothers, but as we get closer to the top, the climate changes and so must our tools.

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