Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Inferiority Complex of low SES blacks

Today at work – yes, I’m still hanging in there – one of my 2 employees did and said something that really disturbed me.
While completing an assignment - which included proof reading, making some corrections and putting everything in the right format (font, spacing, etc) - he exhaled loudly and complained. He didn’t want to finish the work and exclaimed that “these white people were getting on my nerves. They can do all of that kind of stuff. I can’t do it.” Do what I asked. “All of that specific stuff. White people are better at that stuff.” I asked why. Does being black mean we are any less capable of doing detailed work? “Yes”, he replied. I corrected him. The other co-worker chimed in too. I finished by saying that as long as he had that type of attitude he had counted himself and every other Black person out.
But his remarks aren’t uncommon. Actually, among all of the team members (15 in all), such subtle remarks about black people’s inferiority and white peoples superiority are made often. These young (and not-so-young) Black adults from this crazy poor neighborhood all express in one way or the other that being Black means 2 things.
1) Exempt from meeting standards. e.g. don’t have to be professional; don't have to treat others with respect – namely members from partner agencies and organizations, people in the office building; feel entitled to do whatever and it should be okay - everyone else should just know and understand that we’re black and that means we can be loud, cuss, talk about personal business; not dress appropriately; show up late, etc.

2) Can never achieve true success. e.g. Black people can’t afford to live in lofts or nice homes; people in certain neighborhoods or businesses don’t want us someplace and therefore we should avoid certain things; can never really be promoted or have real authority in a company, successful blacks are tokens or puppets that work at the will of (often lower-ranking) white people, etc.

Crack smoking, ain’t it? That’s why every chance I get I introduce them to successful black people – accoutants, Engineers, COOs, Supervisors, etc., if possible people from their neighborhood or similar neighborhoods. They seem excited to meet a successful black person, ask good questions, and seem inspired. But they still say crazy stuff like this.

No comments: