Why Do You Need a Black....?
Fill in the blank and apparently, for some, it's a problem. A few weeks back I shared with a colleague that I was attending a Black in Tech Conference.
"Why do you need a Black in Tech Conference? I understand a Women in Tech Conference and a LGTBQ Tech Conference but a conference just for black people seems discriminatory it should be for everyone in tech"
To say I was shocked is an understatement. I explained the importance but it, unfortunately, was futile and like many conversations when my black experience is discussed with non-blacks my viewpoint was dismissed as being overly sensitive or making things up because of course, this is Canada and everything is so equal and everybody is so nice.
Today I came across an article by Chika Oriuwa in Flare Magazine that echoes why it's so important to have a Black in Tech, Black in Medicine, Black feel free to fill in the blank space.
It's unfortunately not a unique experience even now in 2018 to be the only one to enter a room. It can be distressing and distracting and the impact it can have on one's mental health is immense. The "innocent" comments or jokes derived from stereotypes perpetuated by the narrow representation of the black experience by the media, the "innocent" mistaken you for the only other black person at work or the store clerk that is "innocently" refolding a shirt as they shadow you as you walk through the store. I've come to expect these experiences. I've been the one of few or the only one since high school. It was training for the world of work.
To say I've overcome is a stretch. It's more I know how to cope. The frustrating piece is to imagine this reality when my girls enter high school and beyond. I share my story really to make sure this is a conversation that no longer only exists in the black community. It's a story that needs to be shared and shared often if a change is going to happen because the worst culprits are not only the ones that commit these subtle acts of racism and prejudice. The worse are the ones that deny it's existence.