I’m Ok With Not Fitting Into Your Corporate Box

“Cuz gettin green make em treat us like we almost white”

-Kanye West

Last week, Slim Jackson of SBM continued his series, Urban Male Chronicles, with the universal anecdote of how 1 black face can feel the pressure of a thousand black faces in the corporate, white-washed setting. While the post rendered the congregatory “AMEN”, there was one part that stood out to me. In 2012, a society where a nuclear black family gets their mail at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, there are still antiquated people who utter this detested statement; “You speak so well to be black” (and variations of such)

Serious face – did you just say that? Out loud? To me?

Like many in the educated middle-class, I’m efficient at the “switch”. I listen to Rick Ross and DMX with my earbuds, but I’m perfectly capable of talking to my ethnic counterparts about Maroon 5, Coldplay, and even Lady GaGa. I like The Boondocks and Chris Rock, but I also love The Office and think Aziz Ansari is funny as hell. They feel comfortable enough around me to invite me to their happy hours and weekend bbqs. Yet in spite of our level of familiarity, they’re still often shocked when I deliver a presentation in front of a major brand like LVMH. I’d gotten use to back-handed compliments. But after reading Slim’s post and a conversation with my new boss during draft week, the agitation resurfaced.

I have more than enough work experience to be able to compete with my counterparts for professional mobility and respect from the higher-ups. Yet, I can remember times where I knew (and my boss knew) that I’d knocked an assignment out of the park, only to be chided with a lackluster “nice work, J”. There was always a slight tinge of shock; as if they were expecting to swoop down and close the deal I couldn’t. Prime example: I was recently hired by a new agency to deal with marketing and sponsorship acquisitions. My 1st assignment? Doing cold calls to get title and executive sponsors for an upcoming basketball camp in Miami. Because I’m from South FL, I already had a list of people I could call that would be more than willing to help me out. In my 1st week, I secured a $25,000 executive sponsorship from a car dealership. My boss brushed it off until the check was delivered with a Thank You card addressed to me.

As professional minorities, we often take on the weight of the entire population at a cost to our own individuality. It’s hard to be diligent and show ambition when you’re already the elephant in the room. For most of us, we deal with being snubbed over again and because the powers of be silently tell us “be glad you’re here at all.” We sit by watching our less-qualified and sometimes less-experienced co-workers climb easily up the rungs, as we struggle to hang on.

Me personally, I’ve come to accept that I’m not relegated to represent my ethnicity in the company of the melanin-deficient. While most of us are forever chasing the “American dream”, I’ve settled into the notion that it’s my dream I was put here to accomplish. The older I get, though, the more I realize that it’s okay to not play by the book. I’ve consciously decided to stop spending time monitoring my behavior in fear of being lumped in with “them”. I’ll never encourage someone to be anything other than who they are for the sake of fitting in. Honestly, even when we do exactly what they silently mandate us to do, we’ll still find ourselves being judged at every level. So really, when does a black man ever truly make it in America?

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3 comments

  1. Amen. It is why I am more understanding of certain things with black men and income than some women can be…although if they are the type happy to waste the money on strippers and toys but hairsplitting to spend a little cash on a girl that matters and cares for them…yeah that’s when they get the PASS!

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      As a population, black men are often the last to get financial education – that is, we have to learn after the harsh lesson of debt and bad credit. But the thing about is I think many Gen Yers have wisened up a little bit and becoming more fiscally responsible compared to the sum.

    2. I think there would be less debt and less bad credit if the guys stopped waiting until everything is perfect to get their queen COMMIT to her and build TOGETHER…also would bring them to her with less mileage and less hard of a heart due to being in the dating jungle too long… they need to learn to love the one they are with and stop waiting for a perfect video girl/chef/whore combination to walk into their lives…using all the women they meet in the meantime in the process…from 15 to 20 guys can get that out their system…25 and still not into relationships cause you “busy” or busy having fun…it’s not cool. The babies keep coming because life and biology doesn’t wait on the career to be perfect…people still sleep with each other cause they still need to be with each other, it’s instinct…we fight it and it’s hurting us…it’s not black people that need to be united it’s households, individual men and women… a man making $25,000 a year feels like he has to get his money up and have a better apartment/car/etc. to get a woman…when he could make up his mind to get a woman on his level making $25,000 a year too, truly care for and love and MARRY her, and become a single $50,000 household sharing the SAME rent and having that ultimate love and care for each other. All that great sex they have with her as just a NSA fling they can do as her husband! The corporate world is what it is…but the things we do have control over…how we unite with a MATE not the entire black race to build a future for self and children…that part is what needs a whole lot more serious thought and effort. There should not be so many pretty women single or in semi-relationships with guys who find them good enough to sleep with and even make babies with but not good enough to marry…I’m not talking girls they are with a few months then leave, I’m talking girls they are with a long time and even years…and every woman has an issue just like every man…forever relationships don’t happen without learning to stick through and deal with those issues…the fast food mentality of dropping something for a new version the second something pops up you don’t like is why no one ever seems good enough…

      Black men need support and respect…they can get this from loving and caring for a wife…they tend to want to be fathers and not put any thought and focus and PLANNING into being a husband, and a good one…children cannot give the support and respect a black man needs in this world…the love of the right woman can and if she is doing that she needs and deserves the commitment of his love in return and his acknowledgment of her value through marriage. Weddings can be as affordable as Urban Beach Weekend splurging in Miami or skipping a few trips to the strip club or the VIP section of a club…so there goes that excuse…

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