Day Four: I took a promotion even though I knew my Black co-worker deserved it.
Now I want to pay her back
I don’t even remember applying for it, to be honest, but one thing I know for sure is that my Black co-worker deserved it more than me. I should have done something about it. I should have said no. I should have recommended her when they asked me if I was interested. I should have found another job knowing I worked in a toxic environment like that.
I don’t even remember applying for it, to be honest, but one thing I do know is that my Black co-worker deserved it more than me.
I went to college to study Social Work. In my final year, I was working full-time, going to my fieldwork placement, and attempting to maintain a toxic relationship with a white male who, amongst other atrocities said things like, “Are you happy that I’m white?”. He grew up in a trailer park with an alcoholic mom, was the first in his family to graduate from school with a degree, and was an alcoholic himself (he didn’t realize that until later, of course, and I didn’t either). Among the many embarrassing things he’s done, one was to fart, loudly, in the middle of Central Park as we were walking over to the Metropolitan for what was supposed to be a “nice date.”
Obviously, some of the missteps are trite and others were more serious and left a mark on my sense of self: he projected all sorts of unqualified, white-centered, imperialist, racists perceptions on me, objectified me, minimized my accomplishments and intellect all because he was massively intimidated by who I was. He assumed I would be an “immigrant” with impoverished, uneducated parents and a broken family. Something closer to the family he has. Honestly, I don’t know what idea of an “Asian woman” he had in mind but I certainly blew that shit apart. Both my parents attended American universities, my dad’s hobby was firing a crossbow over the length of our huge front yard back in my home country, and my grandfather’s name appears in our history books. It’s a very long story about how my family ended up in the United States but the point of it is this: I should have known better and understood, through my education and direct experience what it’s like to have the merits of your hard work dismissed because of how you look.
I should have known better and I should have acted as an advocate, a good friend, a decent human being.
Amani Kildea was a victim of an anti-Black racist crime that has yet to be outlawed in the United States despite attempts since 1918. The Morristown police have ruled this a suicide. In my humble opinion, it is very clear that this was an act of violence to further white supremacist ideology, an act of domestic terrorism on our Black citizens.
There’s a lot of confusion from non-Black people about how to handle conversations about anti-Black racism and the sort of action they should take to help. Vena Moore wrote an incisive piece addressing this, “Stop Expecting Black People to Be a Monolith”. I think acknowledging the varied opinions Black people have to a problem responsible for a range of experiences: from someone like me taking a job that my Black co-worker should have gotten (and did apply for) to lynchings that have yet to be outlawed (!!!!) should give you insight into just how complex and toxic the problem is. No one gave Black people a manual to liberate themselves or push for policy changes, yet, they figured it out and are still figuring it out. Black people have varying opinions about their liberation because they are people, individuals.
Reparations can’t come soon enough and I’d like to pay back my former Black co-worker for my mistake. I don’t make enough yet or have savings to compensate her but I’d love to pay her 100% of every cent this post makes, from now, until…well, forever. What do you think? How about we all start reflecting on the Black co-workers we’ve taken promotions in place of, admit to it publically, and pay them back?
Normally, half of all funds generated through these daily posts reflecting on my part of the problem will go The Movement for Black Lives. Earnings and proof of donation will be shared on the 15th of each month starting August 15th, 2020.