Guest article by: brittanisimone.com
Working while Black is the irritable reality that we are constantly concerned with making White people feel comfortable. Before we can focus on the reason we’re there in the first place, to work, we deal with how we’re perceived. We are constantly aware of what White people think of us culturally. All while moving through our day trying not to lose sight of who we are as an individual. The double-consciousness we’re expected to accept is not only exhausting but unfair.
Below are some tips to help you relieve some of your occupational stress due to being Black in the workplace.
- Find a trained therapist. Therapy is something that Black folk, as of recently, are more inclined to accept. Which is a beautiful thing because it’s a nurturing habit that inevitably propels the next generation. In today’s climate, it’s almost a necessity. Notice I stated “trained” therapist. Please do not result in indulging in your favorite podcast and assuming that will suffice. When it comes to choosing your therapist do your research. Check with your job because your insurance may cover all or part of the therapy costs. Also, don’t be afraid of switching your therapist if you feel it’s no longer beneficial. Most importantly, be honest with your therapist. Don’t assume they heard it all before, won’t understand, or whatever other excuses you can come up with. It only works if you’re honest. Lastly, don’t feel bad for wanting a Black therapist.
- Slow down or eliminate code-switching. Code-switching is the concept or process by which a Black person changes, or “switches”, how they would normally act or talk to fit the dominant culture around them. I know we’ve been doing this for years. We have no idea the amount of turmoil it has caused to our psyche. Consistently thinking about how, or when to switch up your natural tendencies is a lot of pressure on the mental, and stress on the heart. It’s unrealistic to assume you can cut it out completely but do yourself a favor and cut it down.
- Find a support group. I’m a strong believer in not being “real” friends with coworkers/colleagues. So I suggest finding a support group outside of your work crew. A small group of cousins, homegirls, or neighbors that you can briefly confide in. Try to keep rants between 25-35 minutes. You don’t want to complain all day, every day. It’s essential to deal with your frustration. Don’t bottle it up and save it for later. Get it out and don’t pick up back up.
These few steps will help ease your occupational stress and help propel you in your professional career. Imagine a workweek where you go home with peace of mind. Imagine a Sunday evening where you’re not dreading going to work Monday morning. These three steps to working while Black will make your life a little easier and works days less stressful.