I will begin by saying that I cannot say I live a life that is always 100% righteous in the face of the American law system. I cannot say that my personal life is positively reflecting the expectations of what a 'black professional' is, does, or represent. I smoke weed and aspire to become a recognized lyricist and video game developer, after all.
With that out of the way, there are things I have experienced in every professional environment I have worked in. that have become impossible to ignore, as they hold true everywhere I work, and has been one of the greatest motivational factors for pursuing self employment and pursuits out of the grasp and confines of white America.
I design for a living; from architectural to civil/structural, electrical to mechanical, I have shaped the living environment of Pittsburgh, PA and areas surrounding it...even beyond that. Even in typing this, I smile knowing that before any real notion of success, I have been (so far) a fully functioning member of society despite my shortcomings.
And yet...I find myself greatly troubled. There is a huge magnifying glass on my persona, notion of professionalism, and general mannerisms in the 'white establishments' of construction and design. At first, I self reflected, taking into consideration that I am by no right without fault...but that is on a personal level, something I do not let leak into my professional life.
Almost everywhere I have worked I have been the 'token', or single black person employed. It is a lonely and uncomfortable experience in which everyone watches you, judges you, and holds you accountable for things outside of logical reasoning. You can feel the eyes of people as they stare at you while you work. The generally 'culturally insensitive' things people effectively chose to say without any fear of reprimand or regard for humanity is baffling. I often find myself enraged at what I experience, because it looks and feels so incredibly slanted.
I cannot walk into a work restroom and ignore the horrid conditions of it without correcting it, because if I do, someone will passive aggressively suggest that I was responsible for the disgusting manner in which it was left. People who fail at aiming at a urinal will leave there urine all over the floor, pubes all over the sides of toilets and never, ever, replace the toilet paper.
Everyone surfs the internet. Literally, everyone, work hours be damned. If I leave a screen up, or someone walks by, knowing they do the exact same thing, once again this passive aggressive notion of responsibility and professionalism is taken into play as if they hold themselves to a high standard, which is a falsehood.
If I perform my work and exceed the expectation of a deadline, I work too fast. If I painstakingly ensure the quality of a design document ( or as some would call it, a blueprint), I work too hard.
If I drink the last cup of coffee after hours of the pot sitting there, I'm blamed for not making a new pot.
I must remain politically silent, while hearing the overbearing rants of racially slanted republican news outlets such as Rush Limbaugh and the daily faults of President Obama, local political structure and functions be damned.
When I am approached regarding anything from work related matters, to casual conversation, people will choose to utilize slang that seems an over reaching effort to reach some mutual understanding, which is, in and of itself, incredibly insulting.
For some reason, it is always a zoo like fetishism with the fact that I am black and working in such an environment; as if there are no black architects, engineers, estimators, construction supervisors, etcetera and so on. It's like I'm the first to do it, ever, every place I go.
Dialogue with me always goes into sports. I get into highlights of stuff, but I am by no means a fanatic. Why? Well, what do you talk to the black guy in the office about when you are killing time or attempting to evade work?
When I attempt to use professional dialogue and common everyday courtesies, I am met with an overall smugness, if not completely ignored, or it is insinuated that I am trying too hard to impress.
When I am insulted, I could never reply in kind without some form of reprimand. if the inflection of my voice goes too high, I am told to calm down. Too low, and I am told to speak up.
When I inquire about the intimacies of a project, as they determine the overall result of creating a design/construction document, I am going beyond my means, or I am asking for information that doesn't pertain to me.
If I'm not the minority willing to engage and laugh at racially insensitive remarks, which I never am, I am watched that much more closely with the intent to be removed or labeled unprofessional.
And yet...whenever I look at the white equivocate of what I do for a living, they are not treated in the same way. In fact, they are rewarded for working hard, praised for extra effort, and unshaken by the cultural sensitivity that I would expect professional adults to have.
These things, after repeated occurrence, have warped my views and shut me off to the notions of government enforced equality. There is no such thing as government enforced equality to me anymore, because white people will do and say what they feel, and very little will stop them in such an environment, created by the very same people. The saddest thing is that this random list of things that happen in every environment has been incredibly condensed. It goes deeper than anyone really wants to fathom.
I hate the work I do. I hate the people I am surrounded by. My soul has been stained this awkward shade of bitter, and it makes me hate myself. I come home to my significant other and sons, and often am in such a place of melancholy that I pretend to be happy to keep them from being concerned. Weed is great, but when you wake up knowing that your professional life is in a perpetually biased groundhog day, your making it through the day to roll up another blunt, or another g pen hit, and becomes a crutch. I used to smoke because it was something to do with my friends in college. Hell, I learned how to roll a white owl from one of my school buds, an Asian. Now, I'm smoking to just not give a fuck about the ridiculousness of what occurs every single day.
Has some of this been motivational to me finishing my game this year? Beyond the shadow of a doubt, yes, it has. Is it a deterrent to overall positive thinking? Unfortunately, yes as well. My mind is constantly plagued will thoughts that often distract me from the overall purpose of independent employment and happiness. I start a beat and can't finish. I pick up the game script and get a couple of sentences of dialogue in and freeze up, overwhelmed. And more than anything, I am just incredibly alone with these issues, and I cannot lie, the shit hurts.
I am attempting to finish something with everyone in my professional and private life interfering. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of feeling different when I am finished, and profiting enough to walk away from this biased occupation, and never have to deal with these issues again. For now, I just gotta smoke my weed and try not to give a fuck about any of this shit, because the sad thing is, nobody gives a fuck at the end of the day but the nigga on the receiving end of it.
One day, soon, this game will finish, and if I have been correct regarding the magnitude of the potential success, I will flip off every single person and company I have worked for. Fuck burning bridges, I'm gonna Chernobyl the fuck out of them, and as ignorant and black as I can possibly be. Why? Because, bitch, you had it coming. And if you think I am the only one that things this way, you are misguided, because allot of niggas would shit on all of this if they had the opportunity. I am not above that. Why should I be? If you can do it, I can too, right?