Who Will Catch Me If I Fall?
Black Lesbians Climbing the Corporate Ladder
By Hadiyah Malaika
All through our lives as people of African descent we are told struggle, hard work, and education will allow us to reach our dreams. Our dreams are spoon-fed to us through movies, our parents, newspapers and magazines.
Who hasn't heard, "Get a good job with a great salary, a nice house in a good neighborhood" and you'll be set? My question is, set for what? Ulcers, high blood pressure, major disappointment and/or harassment? Isolation from the majority of the people you know and love?
The major portion of this equation is the "playa-hatin'" going on. As one advances in education and financial status, it seems that the things that made you feel secure in the past change.
You and your homegirls aren't as tight as you once were. When you're off from that ten-hour a day gig and they call, often it's just to hit you up for another loan. Even that is a double-edged sword.
If you give them the loan, resentment builds because your friends feel more and more in debt to you -- and you know everybody hates the bill collector -- and they start to feel they are no longer your equal. If you don't give the loan, you're accused of forgetting where you came from.
The answer might seem to be in finding social connections with those with whom you work. But, it doesn't matter how much the people you work with smile at you and call you a friend, you still wonder if it's sincere. You search for the feeling you had with your homegirls, way back when.
Inside you wonder, when your non-Black coworkers are kicking it with their White friends, are they laughing at nigger jokes, or even worse, distributing hate literature in their spare time?
After a couple of disappointments with people you thought you had come to know, suspicion can hang around like dust in the corners of your mind.
You think, "There are other's like me in the Black Lesbian and Gay
community; I'll just seek them out." In many cases, suspicion about your motives, other's phoniness and head games meet you, especially if you happen to be single. Even worse, you're met with more competitiveness.
Somewhere in the "you'll be set equation" African Americans should've been taught to support our sisters that have dared to leave the security of the known and move into a hostile corporate world or that world of independent business owners and entrepeneurs.
We should respect the courage it takes to go where you may be discriminated against, hated and abused in many subtle ways, on top of the everyday hostility that we all face.
We should have been taught that it's not okay to slander, tear-down, or wish anything other than success upon each other. We should have been taught to honor each other's achievements, relationships, and struggles. If all we have is just an ear to listen, that would be a valuable gift.
Most of all, we should've been taught that every African American who succeeds opens one more door. If not for us personally, then maybe for our sons, daughters, cousins or partners.
Remember, who will catch you when "you" fall?
Hadiyah Malaika is a software engineer and a Denver-based freelance writer.