I leave my humanity at the door of my place of employ upon entering, every day, and sometimes I forget to retrieve it when I leave. It is an unspoken obligation, a requirement, if you will. As a person of color (PoC) in a predominately-White work environment, I feel that I cannot be the person I truly am, and want to be, for a whole host of reasons. But, the Number One Reason is because I am, in fact, a person of color. I am Black.
I often have to accommodate in ways that White people never even have to consider, because they suffer no fear of retribution for being who and what they are. They are simply allowed to be fully human. I wonder what that’s like – to be and feel fully human, and to be allowed to be such – at work, out on the street, at a museum, buying a coffee…the list goes on and on. To be too loud, too quiet, too sad, too angry, too smart, too dumb, too rich, too poor, too funny, too boring, too well-dressed, too poorly-dressed, too articulate, too inarticulate too rude, too polite – are never based on their skin color. For me, on the other hand, to be merely human is constantly based on my skin color. Black people, and people of color in general, are rarely viewed on their basis of their humanity alone. Rather, we are regularly and often viewed on the basis of our pathologies, and not at all as human beings.
I am a proud Black woman. I am also human. But, in order to feel my full humanity, I sometimes feel as if I need to carry a Human Card. If I had a Human Card, I could scan it the way I scan my security card. This would be proof that I truly belong. It would be my stamp of approval, my validation sticker, my ticket of admittance.
Perhaps, in the next life, I will be allowed to be both Black and Human, and not have to leave either at the door.