Ask Agatha: Being The Only Black Person At Work, And Busting Windows Out Of Cars
Ashley from Harlem, NY asks:
I’ve recently been added to the strategic planning committee at my company. I’m the most junior member and I’m a woman and I’m black. I suspect adding me to the committee was for diversity purposes and not because they expect me to make any real contributions. I admit I feel out of my depth but because of this I’ve made sure to do my “homework” and I feel like I now understand all the “problems” and I’ve even come up with a few potential resolutions. However, at our last meeting after making a few proposals I was unilaterally shut down but I know my ideas are solid. I don’t know what I should do? Should I just shut up and be the black face at the meetings?
If you were assigned to the committee to be quiet and you’re doing the opposite, well shit, you’ve already failed the assignment. Maybe your job as the most junior member on the committee is to be a sponge? In fact, to the other more seasoned members nothing was probably more irritating than you breaking out your PowerPoint presentation and stretching a 40-minute meeting into a two-hour one because you have “ideas.” Being on any kind of “committee” is already a time suck and a morale killer, so I can’t imagine why you expected your over-eager exuberance to be met with anything other than venom. I mean you are the most junior member, presenting them with “solutions,” solutions I’m sure they’ve already come up with, assessed and discarded back when the Strategic Planning Committee was formerly known as the Benefits Committee and now they’re all wondering “how did we get here?”
All this to say, you getting shutdown has nothing to do with you being Black—not a thing. Well, maybe a little bit of it has to do with you being Black and having a vagina. But it’s probably more so an issue of you being so green. So green in fact, that you made the mistake of putting an idea to a vote that you didn’t already have the votes for. You’re making your case at the meeting when everyone knows all the deals are made before you sit down at the table.
So what should you do?
You need to start collecting favors. In personal relationships you shouldn’t ever give to get. Giving should come from the heart with no expectation of anything in return. But in business, you don’t ever give unless you expect to get. So let your vote matter. I don’t care if you agree passionately with a particular issue or direction, you don’t co-sign unless you have some guarantee that the person heading up that particular venture will eventually repay you in kind. Also, and this is something I loathe and will never ever do because I cherish my dignity but you have to form a relationship with these people (who likely despise you) outside of the meetings. Go to them for guidance, present your ideas over drinks, secure their backing in private.
And in the meantime, hush. The old heads don’t want to hear what you have to say. Not yet.
Krystal from Brooklyn, NY asks:
My boyfriend is a fuckboy and I’ve decided to breakup with him. How do I leave him with a bang?
There’s no way to hurt someone that doesn’t give a fuck about you. But let’s try anyway.
1. Break everything. That’s a classic. It’s also considered criminal mischief and a misdemeanor. So you’re looking at a year in jail plus three years probation OR maybe just a fine and community service. Worth it? I think so.
2. Fuck his dad. No crime there. Just moral turpitude. Bonus points if you meet his dad before he does. Triple point score if you get pregnant. And now your son is his brother. FOREVER.
3. Killer on the loose? Call in an anonymous tip from a burner phone. Sure you’re breaking all kinds of rules here including that unwritten pact between Black men and women that says “no cops” but he’s a piece of shit so eh. Let him spend a weekend in jail while they verify his alibi. Or 20 years in prison if they don’t. He can always turn to the ACLU.
Here’s one I wish I’d carried through.
I created it. And then printed a few hundred color copies with every intention of plastering it all over his neighborhood. But my friends stopped me. It’s one of my biggest regrets. In fact, looking back on it all, I’m not sure they were really my friends. I mean how else does a guy know you “don’t” care and that you’re truly over him unless you do something involved, detailed, immoral and criminal?
Anyway, we didn’t really break up for three more years after I made and printed that poster on company time. Honey, I wasn’t done and neither are you, fuckboy or not.
Jessica from Atlanta, GA asks:
I’ve been with this guy on and off for nine years. Every time I say I’m done, I take him back. Every time he says he’s changed he immediately does something that proves he hasn’t. How do I get out of this destructive cycle?
Guess what? People don’t change. In the history of the world no one has ever changed. It’s amazing to me how people don’t believe in God but they believe in change. Something they’ve never seen evidence of in their lifetime. Twenty years sober and you’re still in AA introducing yourself as an addict because that’s who you are and you know it.
You’re not going to change and he’s not going to change.
Situations change but people don’t.
Ask your parents if you’re different from who you were at seven. Ask your friends.
So stay with him or leave him. But don’t keep lying to yourself that this time either of you have become different people. You haven’t.