Why I'm Tired of Being a Black Woman

In school they teach you that if you work hard you can be whatever you want. And I did work hard...

I was on the honor roll every semester—I don't think I got a grade below 90% until my Junior year in college. I didn't let it effect me when my teacher said Black people had babies and went to jail. I masked my trauma when they took us to a plantation, showed us the slave quarters, and all my White classmates pointed out that's where I would have been. I worked harder for every nitpick my teachers could come up with, and I ignored the "speak-for-your-entire-race" questions I received on a regular basis. I curtailed my temper so that I didn't react violently to racial slurs or microaggressions, and I mastered the art of self-confidence so that no matter how alone I was, I didn't feel bothered. And then I went to college...

College: where people asserted that I'd only gotten there because of my skin color. Where groupmates would ignore my correct solution for hours because they assumed I was incompetent. Where I kept a 4.0 GPA in Mathematical Science minoring in Computer Science for 3 years, but people wanted to know how I got a scholarship and what sport I played. But I did the work, I learned the material, I earned the grades, and then I went to grad-school...

People said I got there because I was Black, too. They also said I the only reason I had a high GPA and made it through the sciences was because I was a woman. They told me I either cried or slept with my professors to get the grades. But I didn't waste my time arguing, I had code to write—every line of code I wrote fit perfectly in a project, and every project I turned in worked perfectly. When my group wouldn't listen to my suggestions, then bailed on their broken mess, I spent Thanksgiving creating a working project from scratch; but when I told the TA they didn't help, he didn't believe me. Even when they couldn't explain a single thing about the project they got As and I still got an A-.

Then today, at a presentation of giving presentations, the presenter at the company I'm interning for commented on the credibility of presenters by saying:
"If you are a woman you will be seen as less credible. Also, if you are a different race than the execs, you will be seen as less credible. So, minorities will have to work harder. But don't worry, once you've proven your credibility you will be OK for future presentations."
And I almost walked out of the room.

I know this; I've been living this reality for 26 years and 364 days. I was livid that she—yes, the presenter was also female, though not a minority—had the audacity to nonchalantly mention that after having to prove myself over and over and over and work harder and harder and harder, people still wouldn't take me seriously like it was ok, no big deal. She wasn't upset. She wasn't bothered. She didn't think there needed to be reform in the company, she thought I (and all the other minorities and women) needed to work even harder to make myself credible for people who've been viewed as credible their whole lives regardless of what level of work they put into it. I wanted to explode, because I'm tired.

I've been working hard all my life. I'm two feet away from a doctorate. And it'll never be enough.

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