It is a matter that has plagued Black America since they let us in the big corner office; one that has divided households and pit brother against brother:
To work or not to work on Martin Luther King, Jr. day? That is the question.
On one hand I feel that is my obligation as a Professional Black Person to set the tone in my office that MLK day is as equally as important as Labor Day and Memorial Day. That I, as a Professional Black Person, am going to take my Unofficial Black Holiday off to officially sit at home and reflect with joy that The Man is paying me to do absolutely nothing for the day. Take that slavery! On the other hand, because I don’t work for a state or federal organization, I’d have to use my PTO and my birthday is around the corner…so…. basically I was at work on the 3rd Monday in January.
It’s funny that the longer you stay in corporate America the more frequently you find yourself making these types of exceptions and allowances. First it’s going to work on Martin Luther King Day. Next its only remembering that it’s Martin Luther King Day when you try to go to the bank on you lunch break, only to realize that its closed. Then you get mad because you feel like someone tricked you in to giving up your proverbial Black Card. Now you gotta act like you celebrate Kwanzaa to balance you Blackness checkbook out at the end of the year!
Whilst reflecting on the holiday, my friend posed the following questions to me:
- Are you off work/ out of school?
- How would Dr. King feel about where we are today?
Answer to question #1:No. I’m not. Quit rubbing it in! As for #2, I think it would depend. On one hand, you have young Black womensuch as myself running entire offices for a company that is overwhelmingly White and male. Granted I, like many people, complain about my job, but 50 years ago I never would have been working for a company such as this, not to mention promoted within it.
I remember my first week as the manager of my new office. It was early in the morning and I had just gotten on the elevator with the cleaning lady, who happened to be an older Black woman. When she saw what floor I had selected she looked at me and said that she wasn’t sure what was going on my floor but the new manager seems to be hiring a lot more of “us” in that office. I looked at her, smiled and politely said, “I’m the Manager, B!” Then exited the elevator strutting so hard, I would have made George Jefferson proud. The look on her face was like a combination of Amistad, “give us free” and the final verdict being read at the OJ trail. It may not have happened exactly this way but in my heart I feel like she whispered as I exited, with a glimmer in her eye, “we made it!”
Now I may have been at work on MLK Day, but I’m wil’in out the entire month of February!… and you know what? I think Dr. King would approve.