Yes, I am aware that you’re Black. Who cares?

I feel as if I’ve been thinking more actively about race in the past few months than I have in my entire life. I’ve mentioned in this space before that I grew up in a neighborhood comprised primarily of people who resembled me. I can count on one hand the number of overtly racist situation in which I’ve found myself embroiled. I look at people in regards to character as opposed to the color of their skin or ethnic background. Lately however…it’s just been on my brain heavily.

I started a new job a few months ago at a place where I am one of three black people that work here. In my interviewing process, I asked about the diversity in the workplace to get a feel for the environment before I actually started (if I was offered the job, that is). It’s important for me to have people who look like me in my workplace. Is this a silly qualification? To some yes, but not for me. I feel more at ease around “my own kind”. *sigh* I feel stupid even admitting that, but I’m on a quest to be more honest with myself and others, so there you have it.

I’ve digressed. Anyway, after working here for a couple months I had a meeting with my direct supervisor. She informed me that some of my coworkers thought that I didn’t like them because I didn’t jump in their conversations uninvited. I’m not the kind of person who makes unsolicited comments for the sake of hearing my own voice. If you’re having a conversation about a topic that interests me, I will chime in with my $.02. If I have no interest, I’m on my Hellen Keller steez. I’ve explained this numerous times to my boss when questioned about why I am so quiet. It’s just my way. I’m the shyest extrovert you’ll ever meet, ha! I’m an oxymoronic anomaly at times, heh.

Now back to my coworkers, I sit in an enclave with three guys and to the direct right of my cube wall are two other guys. Three of the five men that sit around me have a tight knit comaradery that revolves around their various fantasy sports teams. One of the other guys is an older gentlemen who is quirky and chimes in on conversations no matter what they’re about with some misplaced, snarky commentary. The last guy is like my male counterpart. He comes in here, plops on headphones, does his work quietly, and leaves. He has been in his position for more than two years, so I am pretty sure this is not a recent occurence. He’s probably been this way the whole time.

When I was approached by my boss as being seemingly standoffish or antisocial, a part of me wondered if Peter* had been approached in the same way. Granted he’s been here longer, so they know his personality a bit more. But initally I thought, am I being singled out as the antisocial girl or the antisocial *black* girl?

Even in situations with my White friends, I find myself watching how I behave. As if I am somehow afraid of presenting myself as *too* Black. It’s dumb. Christ it is, I know! I recently got irritated with a White friend and the whole time while I was festering with (righteous) indignation, I was thinking, “Oh lord, am I angry black womaning out right now?” Meanwhile, they’re probably just thinking that I’m a bitch at the highest level, color not even playing a part at all.

I’m probably the one who thinks about my Blackness in these sorts of situations more than the other people involved, which is insane. What say ye?

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