Navigating Microaggressions as a Black Woman: My Journey and How I Overcame

Navigating Microaggressions as a Black Woman: My Journey and How I Overcame

Intro: In recent days, a recurring theme has dominated my conversations within my circle—Black women grappling with microaggressions in the workplace. I cannot help but reflect on my own experiences, growing up surrounded by mostly Black peers and transitioning to a different environment in high school. This transition exposed me to microaggressions that I had not encountered before, shaking the foundation of my understanding of racial dynamics.

The Transition: When I was 14, I moved in with my father after my mother lost our last place to live. Until that point, I had attended schools predominantly populated by Black students, with whom I shared similar struggles. But my world shifted when I moved to a new city and began attending a school with a different demographic. It was during this time that I first experienced the jarring reality of being called the N-word by non-Black kids. I was taken aback, but my younger self lacked the strength to confront the situation. However, when a white peer casually referred to me as "my Nigga," I knew I had to find a way to navigate these microaggressions.

The College Years: During my preparation for college, I focused on improving my diction, transforming my "yeah" into "yes." At the time, it was a coping mechanism to escape the overwhelming presence of microaggressions that had gradually begun to affect me. However, it wasn't until my final year in college that I realized how tone-deaf I had become to my own experiences.

My Aspiration to Attend Law School: As a Business Law major, I was determined to pursue a career in law. Yet, my final year brought a turning point when I took a Corporate Law class taught by an older white male professor and his middle-aged white female assistant. In subtle, yet undermining ways, they questioned my choice to attend law school. The professor insinuated that women in law face scrutiny over their clothing choices, and the assistant painted a picture of long, arduous days as if my punctuality and dedication were a problem. This was despite juggling two jobs and completing a Business Law degree.

Corporate America Realities: Upon entering corporate America, I encountered a whole new set of microaggressions. Seemingly harmless comments about my hair, color changes, or comparisons to Beyoncé became part of the daily routine. I even felt the pressure to conform and avoid wearing braids, as it was perceived as unprofessional. I was confronted with a dilemma—either suppress my natural hair or potentially jeopardize a six-figure job. The struggle continued even as I switched from one corporate job to another, with different faces but the same issues.

Confronting Stereotypes: One incident that stands out is a dinner conversation with colleagues, where I shared that I had three children. One team member shockingly blurted out, "So you have three baby daddies." I couldn't fathom how anyone could find this funny or appropriate to ask any woman. In reality, I had two husbands—a former husband and my current husband, the father of all my children. This experience reflects the skewed perceptions that persist regarding Black women.

The Ongoing Battle: Despite the coining of the term "microaggressions" around 2020, these incidents have not ceased. Even after leaving corporate America, I am haunted by the knowledge that young Black individuals are still navigating a world filled with stereotypes and assumptions. While we all carry societal programming, making sweeping judgments about individuals without getting to know them is a mistake.

My Journey and Motivation: I share my story because I feel motivated to do so. My journey included tears and moments of depression, but it also pushed me to listen, understand, and become a voice for Black men and women who may need mental health support. You never know whose life you can change by being there for them. My experiences also fueled my relentless hustle. Despite bad days when I feel like giving up, I always manage to bounce back. So, if you are a young Black individual resonating with my story, know that I can help you. I am a coach who coached herself through a challenging childhood and a tough corporate environment. I've learned to channel negativity into fuel for my relentless pursuit of success. Trust me, I know how to kick life's ass!

If you know someone who needs a "pick me up" from Micro Aggressions. Send them a "Shine Bright Like Your Melanin Card" to brighten their day!


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