Black Women Aren’t Allowed To Be Introverted

“I don’t think Sequoia likes me,” is something I’ve heard secondhand my entire life, and most times it isn’t true. While the statement IS annoying, it wasn’t consequential until I became an adult in the workplace.

As a self-identified introverted Black woman navigating mostly white spaces, I often find that my peers and coworkers have preconceived assumptions about who I am, based on my Black-womanhood. When I fail to live up to the funny, entertaining, sassy, Black woman stereotype, they’re quick to assume my failure to entertain is because I don’t like them. This isn’t a huge problem until it’s time for peer reviews, promotions, or layoffs. Then, it quickly becomes an insidious dehumanization tool that can result in job termination because Black women are not afforded the luxury of introversion, especially not in the workplace. I’m used to feeling discriminated against because of my race and gender, but I’m only starting to understand that being an introverted Black woman has also been the source of discrimination throughout my life. From being roped into “sassy” banter with my white, gay, male coworker because that’s what I’m expected to do, to having my biggest criticism be, “You should talk more!” Black women are not allowed to exist in peace without providing entertainment to others, particularly not in the workplace where our livelihoods are at stake. These unfair expectations begin in childhood.

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Lead Illustration by: Kasandra Minchaca