5 things I learnt being the only black girl in the office
I’m not a stranger to being one of five black people in Cape Town spaces. I don’t have enough words left in me when it comes to that particular subject.
However, being the only black person in the office has come with its quirks and frustrations, so please bear with me - this column is about my personal experience and is not out to get white people.
I know how you guys love being offended by anything and everything that involves race.
I moved to Cape Town three and a half years ago and I have since worked in 4 different media based companies.
I have been one of a few black people in three of these companies, but this is the only time I have been the only one in my current job and these are just some of the things I've learned:
1.You always have to bring a jacket to work
White people have zero chill when it comes to the air conditioner. Going to work for me is like stepping into a Woolies store.
Here I am carrying a bomber jacket to work in 28 degree weather preparing for a work day because I know I'll be outvoted by the spaghetti top-wearing gals and short sleeved-wearing boets.
2. There will always be whispering
This is easily my biggest pet peeve and should be banned in all offices. Not only is it rude, but it makes everyone ridiculously uncomfortable. Can you not go to the kitchen?
Pretend to go for a smoke break if you must. Yes, I'm aware that they're not necessarily gossiping, but whispering will always make it feel like you are the topic of discussion.
3. They will always find a reason to call in sick
Cough, cough I'm sick. I need to go home. Then suddenly the sentences get even shorter and the faces become paler. I’ve known this trick since primary school.
Our cleaning lady is in her deep 50s and once her stomach ulcers hit her while she was also playing garbage man. She refused to take a break because she was worried about her work for the day not being done.
But with the lot at my work... Sneeze once, and the world needs to stop what they doing and bring you a box of Kleenex. Okay, Steve!
4. White people will always lose their minds when you change your hair
And I mean ALWAYS.
"Your hair is so long now! Where did you buy it? Was it sore? How did do they make it look like that? How long is your own hair?"
And of course they will make a face and utter the anthem of all white people when they talk about black hair: "I wish I could change my hair like yours, you're so lucky."
I’m not going to lie - I always feel like the queen of Sheba when I change my hair and present it to my subjects.
5. There’s always someone telling you that they're more black than you
I don’t know if this is a common thing, but I find myself constantly being diluted. It’s a running joke about how I’m so white and how I'm just like them. Any talk about me and my brownness is followed by an offensive statement.
Stop it! This is just as bad as always running all the “cool lingo” by me. No, I don’t know what that saying means. My skin colour is not directly linked to street talk.
Do have a story about being a minority in your workplace? Email us and tell us!