Sunday, March 3, 2024

Dear White Women: I’m Not Your Therapist.

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( We must work to maintain a living and provide one for our family. Every job comes with it’s fair share of stress, learning curves, unreasonable expectations, and drama. The drama of the job, if we aren’t careful, can cause the feel of the environment to shift in a negative way. There is a difference between the stress of a deadline and that of negative energy from co-workers. In the effort to be more cordial with co-workers some black women find themselves in a rather awkward space with their white female co-workers.

Once they become comfortable with you it becomes quite okay to indulge you with the drama and issues of their life. One moment you are talking about reports, and job related matters but in a matter of week (sometimes days) you are being bombarded by the “hell” they perceive as their life. The expected response is you will listen, comfort, and even give advice…just never tell them you are not their trash can.

As we battle with the stigma of the “Super Woman” strong black woman amongst each other and out family it is important to realize others recognize this strength. The “sistah” on the job that is confident and shows no signs of emotional distress under pressure is seen as a fortified place by which white female co-workers can seek comfort. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge every white woman at work won’t seek you out…but this is to address the many that do.

Erica has started a new job, and has been on that job for all of three weeks. She gets notified from her supervisor that she will be training Emily. Erica was not asked to train a new employee it was a directive. When she explains her inexperience, she will be told you are a strong personality, and we believe you will do just fine. Erica plans for the training as much as a new person can, and when she meets Emily she immediately explains that she will share all that she has learned as she is also very new to the position. As Erica assures Emily everything will be okay…Emily begins to feel more comfortable.

As the women engage in small talk Emily begins to explain her anxiety, life issues, recent injuries and man problems. Erica feels about it uncomfortable but she listens. The details go deeper as the training days continue. Emily thanks Erica for the training and for helping her dial back her anxiety. Erica explains that she is new also and still working to which Emily replies: I feel we have been thrown to the wolves and your personality so much better for being thrown to the wolves than mine. Erica was a bit stunned…thinking so it’s okay for me to be put in a pressure cooker as long as it doesn’t have to be you.

The moral of the story is yes…it’s okay for Erica to be put under pressure, and Emily doesn’t feel she’s cut out for it. In this scenario the white female co-worker has dumper her life story, and problems on her black female co-worker while her co-worker is trying to do the best job she can’t training with very limited experience. In that moment some black women wish they could blatantly state Dear White Lady…I’m not your therapist. I am you co-worker and guess what…I have problems too, yet you don’t see me dumping them on you especially while we are under pressure here. There is an unspoken understanding that black women can handle whatever pressure is put on them, and it’s okay to test the limits of that strength.

Some black women see work as a professional space and we don’t want to know about your personal life as ours is not up for discussion. This doesn’t make us mean, anti-social, nor attitude pone. We are simply don’t the job we get paid to do, and being the unspoken therapist of our white female co-worker is not on the list of things to do. It is quite okay to tactfully steer conversations back to work, resist the urge to also divulge your personal life, nor how you would handle the situations you are hearing. Maybe if we don’t indulge their need to tell all we can stick to doing our jobs.

Staff Writer; Chelle’ St James

May also connect with this sister via Twitter; ChelleStJames.

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