I’m glad you put “act white” in quotation marks because I was about to go off on a diatribe about how you can’t “act white,” “talk white,” blah blah blah. But I think we’re on the same page. I do, however, think your timing in responding was interesting. I was getting a rental car today (someone side-swiped my car). The black woman who came into the auto body shop burst in, interrupted my conversation at the front desk and was rushing to get the order. There was a white lady standing outside on her cell. She rushed out and completely ignored me standing within three feet from her to get out there.

The reps had to stop her, say “That’s the driver” and point to me so she’d stop. She got in the car, blasted some of the most vulgar hip-hop (I’m one of those grumpy sistas who complains about the lack of lyricism and prefers Kendrick/Nas/Rakim over [insert rapper under 30 here]), cursed nonstop while talking to me, said the n-word repeatedly and blasted her horn at a car that jumped in front of her. Then she proceeded to yell at that car and then complain about why the bass on another car wasn’t up to par.

And the whole time she’s acting like I’m her homegirl like I didn’t just meet her two minutes ago— at one point she started twerking to a song and checking her phone while driving — I wondered, “Would you act like this if I wasn’t a 30-something black woman?” That’s the other side of the coin. You’re still on the job. You’re still “at work” even if you’re transporting someone from Point A to Point B. I was an Uber/Lyft driver for a couple months, and everyone who got in my car was treated with the same level of respect. And I rode with some of everybody from every country in just 100 rides.

I don’t know if I can decide which is more insulting. The skinfolk who will just not respect you as a customer and would be way more professional with someone else of a lighter shade. Or, the skinfolk who just feels like you’re not good enough to be a reference. I pondered on whether something about my own behavior made her think I wasn’t a suitable reference. But then when (as mentioned) the two white guys asked me a.s.a.p. and on multiple occasions even though we worked with an entire office full of white people, that just left me perplexed.

I do, however, think (generally speaking) we need to do a better job of just respecting one another. Me included. I have my moments where I have to check my own attitude. But I thought about that, and your message happened to come through at the same time that I was in her SUV while she happily yelled out the lyrics to some song about getting head. *face palm*

I got out of the car and her manager, also a sista, was the EPITOME of professionalism. Pretty box braids. Brown skin like me. Professional. Efficient. But just different. We can code switch like nobody’s business. But we definitely need to work on just basic respect for one another.

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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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