Can I process something?
I don’t really know where this is gonna go but I have had something on my mind for the past few days.
I’m terrified, however, of being dragged by the bangs across the internet so I’m gonna try to dance around this topic in as gentle of a way as is possible.
So, at the store I work at probably about 60% of the customers are black women.
Most of my coworkers are also black women.
I’ve spoken on my blog before about my exploration of my racial identity and my odd attempts to reconcile my feelings on my place in the “black community”.
I often find that certain customers will raise their voices at me, look on at me with a face of disdain, and will order me around with no regards for even the simplest of formalities. These same customers upon interacting with my “blacker” coworkers will beam with joy and appear to have spontaneously developed manners.
I would be remiss to not mention that this disparity in manners works the other way around as well; often white and east asian customers will be quite a bit quicker to say please and thank you to me than my more prominently black coworkers.
My blog is about me though so I’m gonna complain about my situation specifically.
When I was a child up until even high school I was often called uppity.
I get that.
I use words like “disparity” casually and really don’t code switch between a formal speech pattern and a casual speech one. I can seem like I’m doing an impression of Ophelia from Hamlet at times. It is totally rational to think that I’m a self aggrandizing narcissist who went to see too many plays (not entirely inaccurate).
I think it’s quite funny, however, that often the people who call me uppity, bougie, or rich girl are in far better financial positions than me.
When I was a child I remember a girl would call me bougie and push my glasses into my face. That girl, upon leaving school for the day, would return home to a mother who is a doctor and a father who is a lawyer.
Oftentimes in my childhood I would be mocked for being a rich kid by kids wearing Jordans as I padded through life in payless moccasins.
I think it’s rational to draw a comparison between my childhood bullying and the hostility I am met with now.
I think I’m gonna sound like a whiny lightskin here, but especially in high school the word uppity would be accompanied by the term lightskin.
Just saying there’s probably an association there.
I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that people are hostile toward me upon simply observing me. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that the same thing happens to my darker skinned coworkers. It’s probably not a coincidence as well that the rude women I deal with have a similar complexion to my childhood bullies. And I really don’t believe that the customers in the store don’t know that I make barely over minimum wage.
I think it’s important to not develop blanket hostility toward a group because of specific instances of less than satisfactory experiences. It’s pretty tough to do that though.
I’m a pretty sensitive person. When customers raise their voices at me I’m often on the verge of tears by the time they’ve gotten in their car to leave the store. I get that it’s really easy to tell people to toughen up. I think it would be a better use of resources to tell people to not be *ssholes though.
I don’t have a solution to any of this.
I don’t even have a satisfying conclusion to draw from this.
I notice that my coworkers are better at dealing with terrible customers than I am (at least on the surface).
I think that can be attributed to all sorts of things. They could just not be sensitive like me. They could be more experienced with dealing with mean people. They could be hardened by living harder lives than me.
I’m gonna pull out my hypothesis for why I think stuff like this really gets to me though.
I think as a person who deviates in the ways that I do, you often feel like people with more concrete traits have a community while you don’t. I feel sometimes that people lay on a spectrum and when you have a definite space on the spectrum you’re more likely to sit in the same space as others. I feel like I swing on a rope over the spectrum wearing nothing but a wizard hat and gogo boots. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. The boots are too small.
I don’t have much to say.
I wrote a post very similar to this yesterday. It was 3000 words long and really great and I don’t like this one even half as much.
Thanks for reading though.