First blog

I’m not sure this has anything to do with the elections, but I thought I’d lead off with this paragraph/querie:

A friend of mine had a gathering recently for women of color to talk abut the democratic presidential candidates and how we, as women of color, are in this whole experience — what is coming up for us and how we are processing it. Obama and Clinton are competing in this game of “Oppression Olympics” — a kind of “I’m way worse off than you are …” and a “So, that’s nothing, listen to this …” kind of game, while some of us are smack dab in the middle of it. What is worse, racism or sexism? In some ways for me as a Black woman, they are so inextricably linked, it’s hardly worth asking the question. Even with Black men, I sometimes feel like the internalized racism thing is present in their sexist treatment of me …

So that’s the lead in …

Is it an indicator that I need to move on from the board of directors that I’m on that after every call I feel pissed off? It’s not just one person — it’s how different individuals enable one another and then how I find myself enabling the enabling. There’s how race plays out time in and time out with white liberal people who have enough awareness about race to call one another racist and to act like they are authorities about it. I’m honestly wondering how much I want to continue being involved in the game with these people — how much I want to be the person of color in those conversations which are starting to feel like they actually perpetuate an insidious supremacist dynamic.

Right now, though, what’s really eating me is the whole male priviledge and sexism thing. The men on the board are so called “enlightened,” but their sexism is so apparent in so many different ways. Their gross power relationships with their staff (and who knows who else …) is just one small example. I can’t stand getting emails from peoples’ assistants to set up phone calls with them — these are people who are not only colleagues, but personal friends. Can not a personal friend schedule his own damned calls??

Today on the conference call, our board chair (who is actually a good friend of mine) gave me an assignment for our next board meeting. No big deal, right? I wouldn’t normally think so — I’m a team player, a hard worker, and contribute a lot to the board. Which is why I’ve already produced a hefty synthesis of the reflections on our last two meetings for the rest of the board to consider. It took me a good half a day of unpaid work to do the summary, which I had no problem with because I’m a team player, a hard worker, and blah blah blah.

Given that I had already done a fair bit of unpaid work for the next meeting I was quite surprised when the chair said, “For the next meeting you’ll do a summary of the evaluation report recently done.” He actually said it twice at two different points in the call and it was only the second time that I understood that the “you” was me, or at least I thought it was, which is why I said, “Are you asking me to do a summary?” I hadn’t meant to be flip or hostile — I honestly wanted the clarity, was he addressing me? I couldn’t really believe it. There were three other people on the call, one of whom was a woman (a woman of color, I might add) and she was organizing a whole other piece of the meeting and two other white men. To be fair, the chair had given himself a number of tasks, but he didn’t ask either of the two other white men to do anything.

Of course, because I confronted the chair’s demand/request with my question I immediately became the angry, uncooperative, oversensitive, Black woman. The energy on the call shifted, the response from the chair was laced in defensiveness, there was silence, there was clearing of throats. I let the silence sit for a couple of seconds, but succombed and said, “That’s fine, I’ll do it, I just wanted to get clear on who you were asking and what you were asking for …”

More collusion, perpetuation, and empowerment — this is why I think I need to just get out of these kinds of relationships …


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