Thursday, May 14, 2009
How Black Are You...At Work?
My job atmosphere is extremely casual and laid back. Jeans, flip flops, and bare legs are the norm. Just about everyone on the job is smart, resourceful, creative and completely individual. We enjoy champagne hour on the job 3 times a week and at any time any one of us could be working from home that day.
We have 2 Africans, 5 African Americans, 7 Middle Easterners + a lot of Caucasians and Jews. We're not politically correct and I discovered during the election that most co-workers are Republican. 'Tis life.
Once a month, the whole company gathers for "Staff Ed". We all drive to an offsite location for lunch. During lunch we get an update on the company and take quizzes for money and prizes. Nice money. Nice prizes.
Here's the problem.
A new feature of Staff Ed is "Leon Goes to the Movies". One of the black co-workers, Leon, films himself in a corner of his home "reviewing" a movie. Actually, he doesn't review the movie for about 5 minutes because he's too busy cracking jokes and mimicking our Human Resources director first. He covers his face with a large cut out of our HR lady and says stuff like, "You can't say that, Leon. That's crossing the line, Leon!" in her voice. At first it was funny. Five movie reviews deep and I'm ashamed to be black at Staff Ed. And oh yeah - he's a low talker too. So you have to be quiet and listen intensely to the flurry of sarcastic/inappropriate jokes.
NOW he's on a "just review black movies" kick. That's right. He reviewed Madea Goes to Jail last month, and yesterday he reviewed The Secret Life of Bees. I think Obsessed is next. I'm sure everyone would prefer Wolverine.
Here's my issue: If he were white, would he only review white movies? Would he review Brown Sugar? Why am I so ashamed that Leon's reviewing only black movies? Do I have some deep seated inferiority complex because I'm .... black?
How would you feel if this were your co-worker and you had to sit through 15 uncomfortable minutes of "Leon Goes to TVOne"? Are you black and proud at work - displaying posters of Obama and Nelson Mandela?