Who do Black Men Value?

Last Sunday afternoon I stopped at a gas station for a drink.  A tired looking Black man, in his late forties to early fifties, was standing outside the gas station.  I could tell he was a pan handler because he was waiting outside the building watching people come and go.  I parked my car in front of where he was standing and he approached me and asked me for some spare change.  He tried to follow up with a story about how he was trying to get somewhere and needed money.  I told him I would give him some change on my way back to my car.

As I was leaving the gas station the pan handler was standing in the same spot in front of my car.   I gave the man some spare change.  I think it was about thirty five cents.  As I was getting in my car a middle aged, White man was going into the gas station.  The Black man did not approach him for any money.  He just made eye contact and just nodded.

I was a little troubled by this.  Why did the Black male pan handler have enough pride not to ask the White man for money but he had no problem presenting himself as a pitiful bum to a Black woman?  Why was it more important to the Black man to save face in front of a White man but he didn’t care what a Black woman thought of him?

Besides that, the entire global economy is set up so White men can prosper.  Black women are pushed to the margins of the economy.  The White man is more likely to have a dollar to spare whereas I may or may not have much more money than the panhandler.  In fact, I’m sure the panhandler has more money than I do because I have student loan and car debts.  My have negative net worth.

Despite the paltry sum of money I gave the man I felt really taken advantage of in that situation.  I hate it when men ask women for money.  Unless there is a very close relationship between the two it shouldn’t happen.  I’m old fashioned and I think that men should provide leadership.  The man could have shown me, a Black woman a little respect and had some pride in himself but he chose to reserve that for the tubby, middle aged, White man.

I would love to know why the panhandler made the choices that he made that day.  I bet if I asked him why he begged from me and looked the White man in the eye and nodded hello he couldn’t give me an answer.  But I think this is an example of how Black women are seen in the world at large.  This story is also indicative of a problem in the Black community.

Black women are often seen and treated as people that are to be taken advantage of and used.  People expect Black women to give, serve and work and never prosper or expect recognition or respect for her efforts.  I often feel that Black men are the biggest users of Black women.

I also feel that Black have abdicated their positions as leaders in the Black community.  Men should be leaders.  That’s not to say that women can’t be leaders but in Black families women often provide emotional and financial leadership for others and often times there is no one for Black women to lean on.  It’s not always the case but often times the men are just not there at all or in a supportive way.  I think that the lack of men taking responsibility for women in children is a large part of the problem in Black America.

All of this came about because of an interaction with a bum on 24 Highway.  He chose to be a bum for a Black woman but a man for a White man even though the White man probably pegged anyway.  Had he not asked me for money I would have thought he was waiting for someone in the gas station or something.

I would really love to hear feedback on this essay particularly if you are a part of the African American community.

 

 

Waitressing While Black – Shannon in Kansas City

I have had several customer service jobs in my life.  My career has mostly consisted of working in retail and I have had restaurant jobs as well.  I have learned a lot about the human race while working as a public servant.  Some of it is good.  Some is just matter of fact.  Much of what I’ve learned is disappointing.

I am a Black woman and I’ve noticed that some customers treat me differently than my non Black counterparts.  I have had retail sales jobs where I greeted a customer and asked them if I can help them find anything.  They would coldly tell me that they were just looking and barely make eye contact.  A non Black store employee would approach them a minute later and the customer’s entire demeanor would change and they gladly let the non Black store associate assist them.  I have witnessed this scenario time and time again.

The world has a coldness and condescending attitude towards Blacks.  I have often felt that a lot of non Black people have a hard time interacting with Black people without trying to correct or dominate them in some way.  A lot of non Black people feel like it is their right to dominate any interaction with a Black person.  Sometimes they try to dominate through subtle hints which express disdain for the Black party and sometimes they are more aggressive.

I currently work as a server at a chain restaurant that is popular across the U.S.  I had a string of customers over the weekend that were very course and rude over the weekend.  Now I’m sure you’re saying all servers have dealt with rude customers and you would be right.  But I’ve been Black a long enough to know when I’m dealing with the passive aggressive “You ain’t shit nigger” type of rudeness which is pervasive throughout America.

These particular customers had harshness in their eyes and were very coarse with their words.  If I said something to clarify their order they would snap back in a snotty way in order to imply that I was stupid.  Some of them avoided eye contact all together when speaking and talked down into their plates.  They were very cold, distant, dismissive and rude.  This type of behavior is common in Missouri.  I’ve never thought that people here are very nice.

People love to find and excuse for racist behavior so I want to say that these particular customers had nasty attitudes as soon as I approached their table so I know it was nothing I did.  It was the way I looked that made them so hateful.  Some may tell me to just suck it up sister.  Believe me I have.  Sucking it up and toughing it out gets tiring.  So I’m writing about my experiences as a creative outlet and to let my voice be heard among the handful of people that read this blog. (Thank you)

I want to encourage any other Black public servants out there to keep your head up and be professional.  It’s not your problem my friend it’s theirs.  Keep working hard.  Don’t let the prejudice and hatred on someone else’s heart affect you in anyway.  Like Beyoncé said “Always be gracious your best revenge is your paper”.

Viola Davis’ Acceptance Speech

https://www.yahoo.com/tv/emmys-viola-davis-lead-actress-in-a-drama-129544120705.html

I really like Viola Davis’ acceptance speech at the Emmy’s on Sunday.  It has been on my mind since I heard it.  She is absolutely right.  There is no difference between Black women and anyone else other than the opportunities that we are offered.  I’m not a Black woman in Hollywood but I am a Black woman in the American work force.

My experience and observations in and of  the American work force have shown me how little American culture values Black women.  A Black working woman in America will be over looked and cheated out of an opportunity before any other group.  It has happened to me many times.  Sometimes I look back at my career experience and I feel that if I had never tried to do better, earn more, or stand up for myself everything would have been ok.  I would not have had to cope with as much friction or drama.

But I am a woman that wants to do my best and live up to my full potential.  I don’t want to just accept what I am being offered.  Black women are usually offered the very least of every thing.  We are offered positions that offer the least amount of money, perks or influence.  It’s very hard to get over that hump.  It’s the same hump that Viola Davis described in her speech which was a quote from Harriet Tubman.  Black women will be relegated to low wage, dead end positions regardless, of talent, contributions or education.

When you speak to a supervisor about advancing with the organization is when the problems start.  In my case they are unable to come up with a real reason why I can not be promoted to a better position.  The next step is for management o start problems for you which forces you to either submit to mistreatment, fight or quit.  All three of those are poor options because you can never really win.

I’m very proud of Viola Davis for her accomplishment.  I’m sure it will mean a lot for Black women in Hollywood.  It means a lot to me as a Black woman in the American work force.  I hope that in time people will begin to see Black women as leaders and not just lowly subordinates  that should be grateful for whatever crumbs they are given.  I also hope that more Black women will begin to see their value and fight for their stake in the American dream.