"The Angry Black Woman," And How To Respond To Colorism In The Workplace

Updated: Oct 24

"Do not stare at me because I am swarthy (dark complexion), for the sun has burned me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me caretaker of the vineyards, but I have not taken care of my own vineyard" (Song of Solomon 1:6).

A dark skinned woman speaks to her lover about skin color trauma as she waits for his hand in marriage. She has deprived herself of care while attending to the need's of her brothers.

Have you ever been guilty of giving too much of yourself to others while neglecting needs of your own? In the era of African American slavery, dark skinned female slaves were typically field workers while fair skinned female slaves worked inside and close to their masters. The risk of not completing their responsibilities each day could have been the same, but the reward for the work was certainly more enticing for the fair skinned woman. As true for any behavior, it is more likely to occur when it's consequences are positive. We are more likely to stop taking care of ourselves when we do not see the value of our actions.

Social images and ideas of dark skin women, foster the narrative of "the angry black woman." She is unfriendly, aggressive, ill tempered, and ignorant without provocation. Stereotypes against the dark skin man say they are aggressive, have poor speech, and are uneducated. On the contrary, I am beautiful, intelligent, and as my father would say, "wicked smart." Science says the feelings and emotions evoked by a specific color as a result of individual experiences and learning histories with that color is the color's psychology. African Americans or blacks who have been called derogatory names like ... "black b***h," "black ass," "darky" or "toast," should consider what color psychology tells us happens when people see the color black. Black absorbs all light in the color spectrum. It is not a color you will see on the color wheel because it's all colors. Attitudes of people who love to wear black are mysterious, bold, and powerful.

I never thought I'd grow up to be "the angry black woman," but here we are. Back in 2018, I was nearly done completeing my supervision hours to sit for the BCBA exam. 2 years later I was completing my hours again because I didn't know how to respond to colorism and microaggressions with my previous employer. Escaping your problems by quitting a job isn't always the solution sometimes you gotta face the hard lessons. For dark skin professionals, when you face colorism or race based trauma in the workplace please do the following:

  • Do not be ashamed. Improve your self confidence and you will see a change in how people approach and speak to you.

  • Do not be lazy. It can be tempting to feel so down in your emotions that you decide to use all your PTO for some "me time," but remember discipline is self love in motion.

  • Get in your bag. This means focus on your financial health so you do not find yourself traumatized in two marginalized categories both broke [always in a financial deficit] and black [African American].

  • Pay yourself on pay day. Create realistic goals for your physical health, mental health, and your finances. Once your benchmarks have been met reward yourself with the best things.

Colorism, also known as skin color trauma is a social issue that directly impacts all of our communities. Individuals impacted by racial trauma are at greater risks for developing recurring bouts of depression, anger, and other post-traumatic stress symptoms. It is important not lose your cool and to take care of yourself after an experience with colorism or discrimination that occurs in the workplace or other community. Get well.

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