I reached out to my parents to once again share my concerns about where we are in the federal government service and how far we still have to go to honor and value uniqueness.
My Mom was concerned that my negativity about the lack of progress meant that I devalued the huge sacrifice she made working diligently for years in government service to create opportunity for me. When she and my Dad began working for the federal government, they faced the awesome task of being the only or one of a few that were not valued or held in high esteem. They managed colleagues and even members of the public who did not want to be served by them.
Oh Mom, but some of them are insistent on blocking my forward progress, even today. I thought that when I achieved a certain level, that the discrimination would at least ease up.
I asked them, how did you do it? My Dad spoke of being shot up like Swiss cheese by the people who came after him even though I never knew it. My Mom took lots of days off. And I distinctly remember conversations on how to maneuver bigotry and still do a great job.
Today, I think of both of them as I watch memorials about the Oklahoma City bombing and remember my Dad’s work role in ensuring in picking up the pieces after that tragic attack. I think of how many people relied on my Mother’s expertise and knowledge of social security programs to get their questions answered so they could apply for benefits. I remember how they treated everyone with dignity and respect regardless of how they were treated.
I also spoke to my husband about his mother’s defiance in the face of college programs that did not see her value as a nurse and his father’s challenge of the entire real estate establishment for not offering an even playing field for black real estate agents.
Before them, our grandparents and so on.
I’m different, I know. It’s always been hard for me to stomach injustice and inequity.
And I’m still struggling to determine exactly what I can do or achieve, or how hard I must work to be judged for my unique talent. What does it look like to have the rules remain the same long enough for me to master them? What will it mean in the world when my cry for justice is heard? Will I ever be heard BEFORE I’m overlooked or underserved or treated unfairly? Saying I’m sorry after the fact is not the same as getting it right the first time.
One of the ways I maintain my equilibrium is by creating content to help black women and their families navigate these uneven surfaces.
I’ve poured my unique point of view and insatiable research on black women into a full program to help you contextualize your brilliance and realize dreams.
Join me for Black Girl Magic School Lite on Thursday, April 22, 2021.