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?


  1. First I'm non-controversial and try to display sound moral judgment (at work). Work is work and....u knows the rest.

    He should be ashamed, not you. Just buddy up with your Jewish homie and be/act happy - almost like it never happened. Just don't be cuaght neck-rolling and lip-smacking with him.

    You can be cultural and black all at the same time. He is sure to have made people uncomfortable before - forcing them through things that are important to him and none other.

    I can't stand ALL races for things that I choose whenever and for whatever reason - not forever, but somehow still feel ethnically non-biased. lol.

  2. I would likely be fearful that any non-black co-workers will see something onscreen to confirm some already existing stereotypes. We know we do some things and we accept that as the norm for a portion of "us" but allowing others to see that is kinda...uncomfortable.

    Just like whites don't claim redheads, how they live, and stereotypes based on them then why can't we separate the really trifflin hood'isms from those of reg black folks? It seems he picked some decent black films though. Had it been Belly, New Jack City, or Boyz in the Hood....then it'll be a diff story.


Just say what you feel!