February is quickly coming to a close and with it, the end of the often maligned Black History Month. For me February is a month for reflection and remembrance of all of the contributions that African Americans have made throughout the history of this country. With that being said, I personally have reserved the right to remove my office “Blackness” filter for 29 days
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My office knows that during the second month of the year I will only be using my “Phone Voice” intermittently if at all. You know the voice you use when speaking with bill collectors, various utilities departments and/or during interviews. It’s usually lighter, higher pitched, and disgustingly pleasant. This is not to say that I don’t have a lovely speaking voice, but the foregone conclusion, that is utterly without merit and scientific support, is that those of African American descent typically have deeper voices. . . a James Earl Jones-esk Blackcent. Coincidentally studies have also shown that deeper voices, especially in women, are perceived as less attractive and even threatening…. I’m not saying nothing but I smell a HIDDEN RACISM! Which brings me to the second symptom of Black History Month:
I exercise my right of vocalizing all possible anti-Black conspiracies, regardless of how ridiculous the notions may seem. Oh that theory isn’t based in logic? How many ideas, inventions, and research have been discredited,stolen, or suppressed because the idea generator was Black?! Yeah… scientific retribution, sucka!
For the the majority of my non- Black coworkers, this is not their first rodeo with me and my standard Black History behavior. Secretly I think they treat BHM with the same acceptance that you would give someone for their birthday month. “Oh, Susan is taking off every Friday in April?? Well her birthday is on the 16th… Yolo.” Essentially, they let me behave how I want and they don’t bat an eye. I’m not sure if its White Guilt or they’ve just decided its easier to leave the slightly kooky, militant Black woman alone.
Not all of my fellow Black coworkers have experienced the same type of acceptance and indoctrination of Black History Month, and therefore they have been left unsure of if it is culturally acceptable to talk about Black history in their respective offices. On one hand, I understand for a newer employee who is also a minority, the uncertainty of not wanting to commit a corporate faux pas by bring up Black ish….On the other hand its Black History Month, baby! I wish someone would say something to me about it! Even if I didn’t mention occurrences of Black Excellence that have occurred throughout history, I walk through the office doors everyday. Most companies, mine included, do not have a formal procedure on how to appropriately celebrate or acknowledge BHM. So if you really think about it… if you’re Black in Corporate America, YOU are Black History 365 (take that McDonalds)!.. so I guess the policy is, “favorable until proven otherwise.”