March 25, 2007

Bilingual Black Folks

I have been visiting other blogs to learn how to improve the Electronic Village. I was amazed by the number of blogs that are written in French, Spanish, Japanese and other languages. Although, I don't know any official foriegn languages ... I am bi-lingual. [NOTE: That is me speaking tongues in the picture to the right!]

Like other people of African descent here in America ... I also understand the language that white folks talk in Corporate America. I worked in corporate environment for 23 years before I started my own business. As a result, I am painfully aware that people of color must battle stereotypes about being less hardworking, or less smart, or less punctual than white workers. We are forced to fight those perceptions throughout our careers.

There are so many stupid things that Black folks have to put up with in this world. If our name is "Black-sounding" then we lose out on opportunities in Corporate America. That is reason enough to support Senator Barack Obama in his presidential bid!

Many employers think that inner-city youth can't do math. That is reason enough to support the work being done by groups like BDPA as they create opportunites for high school youth to battle these stereotypes.

The University of Delaware completed a recent study on how stereotypes impact Blacks in the job hunting process. Of course, Black folks don't need a study to instinctively understand that we must wear the mask most of our time in Corporate America. I wonder how many Villagers reading this post know what I'm talking about?!


Anonymous said...

I know what you are talking about! Stereotypes can really hold you back if you let them. I've been placed in many situations where I felt I had to "prove myself" to become one of the team members. When I started out in IT after college, I had to show people I could contribute and was actually good at my profession.

I found an article on Black Enterprise that I'd been meaning to blog on (haven't had much time). It has a different spin on the whole issue.

The Competitive Advantage To Being Black

Unknown said...

Theo --> thanx for sharing the Black Enterprise article. It contains a very interesting point of view. I don't agree with the premise ("competitive advantage") based on my life experience ... however, I do respect differing opinions.

I hope you find time to blog on it!

peace, Villager

Danielle said...

Though, I am not black, I know what you say is true. I hate stereotypes and I think most of us are guilty of using them at one time or another. My husband is Indian and his brother runs a business in Boston and holds some unhealthy opinions of Black Americans. Early on I had to do some damage control so that his views were not passed on to my husband, I have succeeded thank God. There are unhealthy people to be found in all ethic groups but we can not judge an individual based on the meanies we have encountered. I am also aware of the backlash that successful black professionals have to deal with from their own community. What we must understand is that race is a myth and we are all part of one race, the human race. We belong to different cultural groups but we are all essentially the same.
Thank you so much for favoriting my blog and featuring Modern Musings here. I am deeply grateful.
You do not have to prove yourself to me, I see the divine within you and know your worth.

All the best to you

Anonymous said...

Brother, I do know exactly what you're talking about, and I can seriously relate to what you're saying about being bilingual even though you don't speak anothe r"language". Anybody who's ever worked inside the belly of the beast and played the role of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man does, indeed, know all too painfully of what you speak.

JD said...

You and I are on the same page, I spent 23 years with one company and found the energy taken to keep white folk comfortable was more difficult than getting results. Thanks for touching on this important and yet sensitive topic.Nice photo

Gunfighter said...

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile...

Wow. When I was in High School (graduated in 1981) we had a class, for the first time, called famous black writers.

One day, in the beginning of the trimester, the teacher, a very young, earnest, white man named John Murphy asked for a volunteer to recite this poem. I volunteered. I read it well (I love the meter of poetry), and was hounded about it by my all-black classmates until the day I graduated.

Didn't you know that poetry is for white people?

I guess I didn't get the memo.

It still hurts, 25 years later.

Unknown said...

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
We Wear the Mask

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,-
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Gunfighter ... ol' school often sez it best! Well done!