Friday, May 1, 2015

When Black Lives Don't Matter in the Office

I ran from this post. I fought this post. This post was the reason I created this blog and yet it is one of the most terrifying things I've done.

Seeing people who look like me pour their rage into the streets, onto placards, and up against Facebook walls does something to me. It's like drumming. They are on my television in the morning as I button my blazer and slip on my "walk to work" shoes. They are in the streets at night when I'm walking home after a long day with my laptop slung across my shoulder just in case something comes up. The drumming is getting louder and louder, but no one else in my office seems to hear it. Deals and deliverables. Birthdays and barhopping. Vacations. Nannies. House of Cards.

Are the turmoil and anxiety of an entire group of people shadowing my existence imaginary? Have I fabricated it? And then someone breaks the fourth wall and I know they can all see the drummer even if they cannot hear the music. Murmurs about the inconvenience of protesters disturbing their commutes. Whispers about seeing the riots on the news. Never to me.  But these words float in the corridor. It is a miracle I can hear them over the drums. I stay silent at work. I'm afraid if I start talking it will sound like the loud and oppressive drumming. I'm afraid of not being taken seriously, being ignored or, worse, being pitied.

Black lives don't matter in the office. Deadlines matter. Bottom lines  matter. But color lines, wealth lines, lines that separate Black people from justice don't matter in the office. This piece is for those of us watching the protests from our offices. Meeting deadlines, not leading picket lines. Staying busy, working later, doing all that we can to ignore the drumming. I hope it works for you. It's not working for me. There is an urgency in my spirit that is dangerous to success in Corporate America. Our jobs often depend on the same institutions that perpetuate our oppression.

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