…and if you look at it, I’m more of an ally. I’ve noticed that working in ‘corporate America’ or in better words, working for a large corporation, the sistas that I encounter either love me or hate me. I’ve been doing this for almost 11 years now and aside from the black women that I’ve worked with who were standoffish, there were some who never looked at me, while there are quite a few, after a while who eventually turned into some of my closest friends.
You may be wondering why I am even taking the time to write this article since its human nature for people to act certain ways. At the end of the day, when I retire from work and reflect about all of the black women that I encounter in a day, I just want to tell the majority of them that “sista’, I am not your enemy’.
You see, there is just this one sista who I encounter on a daily basis who is quite rude to a lot of other sistas. It’s urban legend that she is rude because she is not confident in her skills and believes that women in general are a threat to her livelihood. I cannot confirm or deny this claim because she doesn’t allow me to get close enough to her to figure it out. The crazy part of this whole scenario is that she holds a position above mine and I have to engage with her multiple times a day to approve transactions or involve her I decisions that I make that may affect the company. When I speak to her, she gives me a cold stare and talks to me as if I am 5 years old. At first, I feel defeated that she takes this stance with me when I am only doing my job…I then return to my desk in retrospect…while holding my tongue…and realize that this is a complement in disguise. If she feels threatened by me, and the urban legend is true, then I must be something else. Sometimes when she attempts to talk crazy to me knowing I will give her a little sass back, but not fight with her in order to keep my sanity and my job, in the back of my head, I just keep telling her “sista, I ain’t your enemy”. I want the best for you because at the end of the day, we have the same struggle.
A few days ago, I walked past a lady that I’ve worked with for almost a decade that I never spoke two words to. I smiled at her to acknowledge her existence and she kept her eyes straight ahead to avoid eye contact. Immediately, I felt awkward and kept going. “Sista, I am not your enemy.” I’ve noticed a few women who do the same thing but sometimes when I am in my element and doing my own thing, I see them looking at me. They know that I’m there…I know that they are there yet we never speak. When we mistakenly join eyes, they will look above my head or at my knees, when I smile, they act busy when they were never busy before and in retrospect I often wonder if we are taught to act this way with each other. By all means, I am not looking to make friends but when you are approximate with other people, there are times when you need to exchange pleasantries to keep the peace. When there are awkward exchanges between each other at random times of the day, you end up feeling awkward in your space, and that is not what I’m trying to do 8 hours a day.
I do my best, I try to be pleasant. I attempt to be nice. My inner introvert is forced out of me so I can feel comfortable with the people who I expect to understand me more than anyone else. I start to wonder why we act this way toward each other.
“When I first saw you, I thought you were strange” she laughed.
“You always had a different way of dressing and carrying yourself. When you big chopped we didn’t like the look…then your hair grew back pretty.”
“Who is we?” even though I knew who we were. I already knew about the secret sorority that didn’t know a thing about me but who knew everything about me. Because I was different from what they thought I should be, they restricted themselves until I did something that unified us and made us friends.
Sistas, I am not your enemy. You are not my enemy. We are not enemies. We have to be allies. Just because another woman does something that you do not or look a certain way that you do not agree with does not mean you cannot live in harmony with her. Respect begins with you. Our lack of respect for each other makes our interactions awkward; it makes us remove ourselves from the very fabric that makes us unique.
I’m not asking for us to be perfect because I know it is human nature for us to be faulty but what I do believe we need to do is regard and acknowledge other women. Respect other women and accept other women. If there is another woman who can do something better than you can, then work harder to do better for yourself. Do not belittle someone or make them feel less than because internally you feel like you will lose your place. If you feel like you are not doing enough, do more. Make it a point to do better for yourself because when you do better for yourself, you do better for us.
If you think someone is different and you do not like the difference, respect the difference. We are all different for a reason. I know this may sound elementary, but if we were all the same flavor and did the same things and looked the same way, then how plain would this world be? We are all different backgrounds, shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities because we were created that way. We need to respect how we were created and use that respect to include people who are different than us. There is something that you need to learn from the person that your are excluding, they also need to learn something from you. Do not block your blessings because you do not understand someone. Let those blessings in and allow that experience to help you grow into a better person.
The interactions that I shared were of people that I interact with every day, but I’ve noticed that sistas act this way toward each other everywhere: Social Media, Work, School, Clicks. As black women, we need to understand that our struggle is not singular–even though we are unique–we share the same stigma, we have to walk through the same journey, and we are stereotyped the same way. As women, we need to realize that the way we treat other women is a reflection on how we feel about ourselves. If we disrespect each other then we do not have any self-respect. It’s plain and simple.
“Sista, I am not your enemy”. In fact, I am you. In this huge world with dynamic people and unique pockets of cultures, our reflection of each other mirrors how we reflect ourselves to other groups. I love my sistas. I love every curl, every kink, every nap. I love our passion, our sense, our strength. I love our sass, our accomplishments, our stories. I love our light skin, our brown skin, our ebony skin. I love our noses, our faces, our hands, our broad lips and wide hips. I love my sistas because I love myself. I love myself because I love my sistas. So girl, stop actin’ funny with me because I am not your enemy. I love you despite all of our flaws. I love you because plain and simple, you are my sista and there is no me without you.
Until Next Time
What I’m currently listening to: