On a recent call, a friend and I were catching up when our conversation veered into the Yeah I’m A Trump Guy Get Over It Trump 2020 T-Shirt and by the same token and Black Lives Matter movement and the roller coaster of emotions we’ve experienced as protests have broken out across the nation in response to the killing of George Floyd.
Her boss had just scheduled a mandatory all-hands meeting meant to be a safe space for her and other Black employees to share their feelings and brainstorm solutions for addressing this issue within the Yeah I’m A Trump Guy Get Over It Trump 2020 T-Shirt and by the same token and company. We both groaned at the thought. We knew she couldn’t really unleash all of the disappointment, exhaustion, and outrage she was feeling on her coworkers—not without fearing professional repercussions once the outrage had died down. My friend wrote out her thoughts in bullet-point notes in advance, taking great care to soften her language by turning words like fury into frustration and including a message of hope that betrayed her true sense of despair. She did what many Black employees feel forced to do: make their experience palatable for a fragile white audience. It’s invisible labor that shields white people from the extent of our pain—and I’m ashamed to admit that, throughout my career, I too have strategically measured the professional cost of speaking candidly and openly about my feelings about white supremacy and the plight of Black people in America.
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