a year ago
I’m a woman and I’m Black.
For most of my life, I have been told I look mean; I have a permanent resting bitch face. I blame this on my father, who sports a permanent scowl on his face with a temperament to match. I didn’t realize the extent of his influence until my cousin came to stay with us one summer. She was always smiling and people simply gravitated towards her. One day I overhead my father telling her, “Its not good to smile all the time.”
I wasn’t raised amidst the #carefreeblackgirls or #blackgirlmagic anthems that we hold close to our hearts today. I wasn’t taught to express my emotions, particularly joy, so freely and so learned to keep everything bottled up. If I ever did have an outburt, it was usually anger that had been simmering like a teapot on a low flame. Growing up, I was always the “nice” girl, the peacemaker, the one who would bend over backwards to keep the peace and a friendship. I found myself biting my tongue over the years to keep a trifling ass friend happy only to realize much too late they were not worth it.
I carried this demeanor into my professional career and was always heralded the team player because I volunteered to do things when no one else would.
Working in healthcare, I have mastered the art of not wearing my heart on my sleeve and pasting a fake smile on my face. The trivial argument I may have had in the morning with a close friend was not something I was going to bring into my patient’s hospital room.
I’ve been told to make my voice sound sweeter over the phone so it carries through loud and clear over the line. I’ve been told to “make patients laugh” so they would like me and keep coming back.
No one seemed to care about my skill set and if I actually knew what the hell I was doing. Shouldn’t that matter more than the fake smile and forced laugh?
I was told today that I was angry and my tone was threatening because the ever-present smile was gone and the sickeningly sweet tone in my voice absent.
Meanwhile, my words were ignored.
Also recently, I was disrespected and I wrote a letter that was short but to the point. It wasn’t angry but it was most definitely, “don’t mess with me again". I enjoyed watching them scramble.
I don't like being "the angry black woman" but she seems to get shit done.