The Struggle…Corporate America through My Eyes…My Victory

Posted: June 20, 2012 in General Business, Social Issues, Vernon L. Johnson

“One ever feels his twoness, –an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” -W.E.B. Du Bois

This quote from W.E.B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk, illustrates in a few phrases the struggles and victories I have learned and navigated thus far in my professional career. I’m not a seasoned vet when it comes to professional experiences, but I have constantly strived and succeeded in my ventures not for my own selfish aspirations, but to obtain the things every American wants, freedom, liberty, and happiness.

I have experienced racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice that have haunted the duality of my identity in the workplace. This is how the world is unfortunately; people do not care about your feelings, you getting opportunities, or your education and experience. Some people rely on their privilege more than anything to get them through. Social capital serves privileged individuals well, meaning there are people who have high paid positions just because they know someone and have no practical or educational experience in that area.

As a black man, it is incredibly difficult. Some people would rather you do service type of jobs your whole life no matter your educational experience, than for you to step foot in a corporate setting. Glass ceilings are hexed onto you; Furthermore, you have to have tough skin. Once in these types of environments, you must be this asexual, kind, welcoming, and non-aggressive being. You are automatically seen as a sexual white flesh-eating predator who is mildly aggressive. You are thought of as dumb, in capable, and lazy. You will inherit much responsibility, and little authority or respect. Praise is non-existent, but more so, constant criticism will be sent your way. I have been attacked in front of and behind my back. People (no matter color, gender, age, etc.) may become jealous of you. I have been thought of as a future failure or wished failure upon. I never reveal too much of my capabilities or networks to people, some folks think they have you figured out. In reality, I have taken very meticulous and planned out steps in my approach. I thank God for giving me the innate ability to sense out people. You will know who is in your corner, and who is not in your corner.

I have been in the middle of awkward racist jokes, I have received looks from people that only can indicate they are looking at a violent and ugly being, some women being afraid of me walking behind them in the workplace, and those moments where you are blamed just because. I’ve been questioned rudely by those who do not possess a master’s degree in my field or do not care if you do. At times, I try to not resort to indirect racism or sexism, but after analyzing the situation, it is. What do I do? I continue to proceed with my actions being respectful, assertive, honest, and do my work with fidelity and rigor. Furthermore, I break stereotypes instead of perpetuating them because I have internalized them or need to act out as a statement of rebellion. Also, I leave my work at work. Humility comes to mind. People want you to act out the stereotypes that face you. Sometimes people will say, “Don’t you get sick of it? Don’t you just want to spaze out, your human!” The answer here is, “of course I do.” If I were in a true state of power or owned my own company, I would act accordingly to those abrasions. Even then, caution must be applied. When you are just beginning and trying to climb the ladder of society’s power structure, you have to make all the right moves. Otherwise, the consequences can be dire. I make it a point to climb that ladder so that I may make the social and policy changes needed to help people who are oppressed. It is my duty to do and be my best.

There have been many who want to keep you at the lowest level of the tandem pole. They expect you to not seek opportunities. How do you go against such a power structure that is meant to keep you out? You work hard, you seize opportunities, and you never give up. Something other than materialistic possessions has to be your motivation. For me, it is my friends, family, my future partner, and my own future family. You cannot expect for these things to come to you, but in the same breathe, you must help those around you to grow and uncover the blindfold from their eyes. Knowing that you can accomplish anything you want in this world is some people’s greatest fear, and your greatest victory.


Your Love Never Fails…


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