I won’t blame this on white women as a whole. I don’t believe that is fair to say. But there is a particular group who do fit into the mentality you’re speaking of, and that’s the part I agree with. In my experience, it has always been white women who have minimal or no interaction (or friendships) with people of color (specifically black women). There is this play-your-role-or-else vibe that rubs me so wrong.

A graphic designer, who I also just flat-out didn’t trust, got along great with the boss I wrote about. She had a similar “victim” vibe that I tried my absolute best to stay away from. (I went to a bar with her one time, and she complained back-to-back about three black women after one drink. I called her on this involuntary therapy session, and then she instantly went into BBQ Becky mode. I really liked the fellow, so that whole experience hurt my feelings. I never liked the graphic designer and don’t give a damn what she does in life.)

However, I still have wonderful things to say about one of the three bosses I mentioned in the middle of the story. (The other two I don’t really talk to now, but they’re cool, as far as I’m concerned.) But one particular boss is absolutely the reason I was able to move forward in my career as an editor; and she is a white woman who fought tooth and nail for me to stay at my first editing job. I will always ride for her, no matter how many years go by because I was definitely underqualified for my first job in publishing. She was determined to mentor me. If I could find more people like her in Corporate America, I’d leap right back in.

I’ve worked with a stellar group of white women (and men) as external clients as a full-time freelancer. (I have absolutely no desire to ever go back into Corporate America.) What I learned is there is an extreme disconnect when some people’s idea of black women (or black people period) is a caricature of a person. If you don’t fit into that mold — or completely code-switch and tap dance all f**king day long — you (and me, and a host of other black women) will always have an issue with a small-town mind. And quite frankly, I also found this to be common with a couple of black men (the black version of Michael Scott and the biracial guy who despised any form of blackness).

I work with some great people now, interestingly from all over the world — Australia, United Kingdom, even Florida. I work from home (as you do) and just don’t have to play Office Politics anymore. I can do the actual work now. I think location and experience with diversity matter more. My Toastmasters group is cool as hell, too, and they’re a mixed bag of white, Asian, black and Latino. But again, this is a group that clearly have a diverse social circle, and it shows. That makes all the difference.

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Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

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