Picture this: a young Black woman starting her career in government. In her immediate office, there are two other women who seem to be friends. The Black woman is nothing but professional. She comes to work on time, dressed appropriately, puts her head down and does her work. One of the other women finds out that the young Black woman, besides clearly being intelligent on her own, is college-educated and secure. They invite the young Black woman to lunch for pizza and she declines. One of the women tells her friend, the other woman, about the young Black woman’s impeccable background and that begins a reign of office terror. The women begin spreading rumors about the young Black woman. They begin tracking her every move. The young Black woman can’t sneeze without it getting back to the manager within the hour. The young Black woman is called into the manager’s office to address false allegations. When the Black woman provides proof that the allegations are false, she is sent back to her office without so much as a “mea culpa.” The reign, however, does not stop and eventually, the manager moves the Black woman to three other offices since she, “can’t get along” with anybody. The rub is, all the young Black woman has done was come to work, work, and go home.
Dig, if you will, a Black woman in the middle of her career. She is educated. She is quiet and always has been. She goes to work for a mid-sized accounting firm. Her work product is beyond reproach. She shows up early and often leaves late. She even shows interest in the little irrelevant moments of their life like recitals and shit. Three months in though, it starts. One of the women starts to tell her boss that the Black woman is behind on her work. When the boss comes to her office and questions her about it, the Black woman is able to produce every file and every piece of work that the co-worker told the boss she hadn’t done. The boss is satisfied. Seeing that the Black woman didn’t get in trouble, the woman then raises “concerns” about the Black woman’s demeanor and whether or not she’s a fit for the company. After weeks of this, the Black woman is unhappy and starting to apply at other firms.
Since bad things come in threes, a Black woman who has worked at her company for almost a decade in B2B sales, and exceeds her target every month is constantly harassed by her female boss. One month, it’s the female boss “forgetting” to correctly tabulate a large chunk of the Black woman’s sales. The next month, it’s the female boss fraudulently taking credit for the Black woman’s work; a matter that ended up having to be escalated to her boss’s boss. The month after that, it’s the Black woman being reprimanded for losing a client based on bad information that her female boss gave the client in an after-hours venue where the Black woman wasn’t even present.
What do all these stories have to do with each other, you ask? Well, first of all, they’re all true.
But more importantly, in all three stories, the lying, conniving, insecure, envious female co-workers were white bitches.
Ask 95% of Black women who are or were of working age and they will be able to tell you at least three stories a piece about how a Workplace Becky tried to sabotage them at some point in their career. There is a clear pattern and it all adds up to white women being the worst.
I know Black men have an issue with white men but as a Black woman, my worst work experiences by far have come at the hands of Workplace Beckies. I thought about this most recently a couple of days ago after reading yet another tale of a Black woman just trying to live her life, work, and support herself and being administratively bullied by the Workplace Becky du jour in her office.
What is their fascination with Black women that makes them want to emulate us while simultaneously hating us? I have a few theories:
- Awareness of their own mediocrity. Usually, in situations like the ones I’ve described, the Black woman in the office is smarter, better educated, more competent at the job, and has more life-long potential than Workplace Becky. Workplace Becky should never have been hired in the first place but you know, white privilege and all….When you know you have no business being where you are, you can’t help but act like an emotionally rabid dog towards the people who are sure to pass you up. If you can get the more excellent out, the pressure is off. White women have gotten by for centuries bringing little to nothing to the table but somehow are on that same pedestal that systemic racism put them on centuries ago. The thing is, they know they don’t deserve it. Basically, you can think you’re cute until you have to go and stand by Naomi Campbell, figuratively, of course.
- Jealousy/Envy. It’s been said that women are naturally jealousy of other women. That claim may have some merit. But when you mix racism with jealousy, that makes for a helluva drink. White women, where Black women are concerned, tend to unleash a special brand of treachery when a Black woman is stuntin’ on them in any area of life. Maybe it’s the fact that we have lips to actually apply lipstick to. Maybe it’s because we can change our hair every single day if we want. Maybe it’s because, in the words of Nikki Giovanni, we are so hip that even our errors are correct. Who knows? But workplace Becky seems to be pressed like ham about it.
- Feminism. More like white feminism. Another theory I’ve kicked around (because theorizing is another talent that Becky can hate me for), is that white women sat under the thumb of white men for so long that they need to control (read, fuck up) somebody else’s life. Who’s the easiest target of their bunco (look it up)? They know the corporate structure and systemic racism and sexism are not going to let them screw Chad over without question. They also know that Black men have an intra-community safety net and someone will come to his defense. But Black women….the double whammy. We have no friends so that makes us easy targets. White women, in the name of deranged feminism, will stick together no matter how wrong they are. What I didn’t tell you is that in every one of those stories, the bosses and managers who dangled the Black women’s jobs over their head based on nothing more than hearsay were also white women. You see how that works?
As I’ve grown older, I now fully understand what my mother and her mother and Black mothers and grandmothers everywhere meant when they would say that white women are dangerous. Them lying and getting someone’s Black child lynched or thrown in prison is just the tip of the iceberg. Their bullshit has infiltrated every place you can imagine and for Black women, who are most often heads of household or the ones called on to care for sick elderly relatives or other children; who go to college and rack up student debt in hopes to get an education good enough to put them in places where they can not only support their livelihood but effect change, the workplace is one of many precarious places for us to be because of Workplace Becky.
But what makes them dangerous is not only that they have it in them to behave this way, but that they are using the systemic racism this country operates in to get away with it. When are the (mostly white) men in the C-Suites going to check Workplace Becky? When is the white female boss (who was a diversity hire) going to use her brain and break rank when Workplace Becky decides it’s her job to be the hall monitor of Black women colleagues? When are people other than Workplace Becky’s targets going to tell Workplace Becky to sit the fuck down or take a pink slip? Probably never. And that’s why she keeps doing it.
People laud Black women for being the newest crop of blossoming business owners but did anybody ever stop to ask why? Maybe, on top of the normal reasons that most people become entrepreneurs, we’re sick of having to play office politics with Workplace Becky who operates like Mommie Dearest the minute she feels threatened by us simply breathing in the same space. Perhaps, we’re tired of everybody else’s resting face just being their resting face but our resting face = “angry,” “aggressive,” “not a team player,” “not a good fit” when Workplace Becky doesn’t get the worship she wants from us. *shrug* Just a thought.
I know white men feel like these days they are getting a lot of heat; and to be honest, they deserve a lot of it. But, I’ll take Chad over Becky any day of the week.
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