Posts 2021-04-10


Comic inspired by post, and all the discussions I’ve had with black women following it.

A lot of my life has been spent carefully modulating my responses to / interactions with white people, and white women in particular. And it doesn’t matter where I’ve been or how “woke” someone claims to be- I am always on guard and frequently disappointed. WW- the effort we undergo to not offend you is immense. I regularly edit my friends’ emails to be gentle enough for you. I swallow indignities to avoid your ire. Because the reality is- upsetting WW isn’t healthy for my career. And yes, WM do this too- but they can’t hide behind the misogyny they face, and they don’t weaponsize their status as a “damsel in distress” to get their way, then insist that punishing me wasn’t their intent. They don’t claim to be my sister and then stab me in the back. 🤷🏿‍♀️ y’all remember Amy Cooper? She’s more familiar than you think.

The truth is: I feel conflicted recruiting other black women into medicine sometimes, where I know that if they aren’t as disarming / bubbly as I am, they will be labeled as “aggressive”, “difficult to work with” or “scary” for voicing their dissent. They’ll get evals calling them “cold” or “unfriendly” simply bc they are quiet or tired. They’ll be reported more frequently, and more frequently disliked. That tension is distracting and alienating. I sometimes wonder how much of my personality is a farce, crafted to protect myself from a white gaze that will punish me as soon as it perceives me as a threat.

How do we fix this? First - I think the threshold to report a Black colleague needs to be high. We’re ppl and not a monolith so some of us are awful, but if you have a disagreement, you have to have tried to engage (open mindedly + with the benefit of the doubt), ensured that you are being fair / would confront a WM for the same, + modulate your own feelings about the situation. Escalate only if necessary, + after informing them. Don’t talk trash about them- bc ppl will most certainly take your side without having theirs.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.