Ah, to be black and employed: A luxury afforded to so few historically, and no less so in these post-recession United States. Since 1974, the black jobless rate has hovered around twice the average, with no sign of wavering.
The pattern persists today, fueled by growing underemployment among recent college graduates and record-high levels of student loan debt.
It's a cold, cold world. The results of these patterns include a persistent wealth gap and general inability to forge anything resembling long-term financial stability. Yet even aside from these, the challenges of being black in the workplace — especially black and alone in the workplace — can be relentless on their own, and more than a little exasperating.
Once you've successfully navigated hiring discrimination (still a thing) and the inevitable affirmative action snickering, interacting with clueless bosses and oblivious co-workers can be a fresh hell of its own. With email, messaging and social media at their disposal, your officemates have all the tools necessary to make your tenure at said company a daily series of hard facepalms.
And yet, you soldier on. Here are 11 Gchat conversations you've definitely experienced as the only black employee at your job:
1. The "Is This Offensive?"
In which your blackness makes you the go-to litmus test for all that is or is not politically correct in the world. Not always the worst idea.
2. The "You Look Like ..."
In which all black people kind of look the same.
3. The "Have You Heard?"
In which you're expected to keep tabs on every black artist's latest track.
4. The "I'm So Sorry"
In which a white co-worker sees a piece of media that makes them realize racism is still a thing.
5. The "You're So Articulate"
In which speaking eloquently is assumed to be incompatible with being black.
6. The "Why Are You So Angry?"
In which failing to keep a toothy smile plastered on your face all day means you're angry.
7. The "You're Being Sensitive"
In which them being racist is your personal problem.
8. The "You Sounded Different on the Phone"
In which "sounding black" is a thing.
In which ... just no.
10. The "Where Do You Live?"
In which we all know what "shady" really means.
11. The Holy Grail
In which reinforcements arrive.
They really don't pay you enough.