Today I asked old dude who sits in the office next to mine if he had some sort of single mother issue. This is twice I count that he has said something extra stereotypical in that regard and frankly I figured that if I didn’t say something soon the ignorance would continue. Not one to really hold my tongue, but certainly not one to stir the pot, I made up my mind after being angry about his comment on Friday to point blank ask him if it was his belief that black women with children were all unwed.
Now I know what your thinking, “There goes Avin again jumping to conclusions”. Quite the opposite actually. When it occurred Friday I had sort of made up my mind to just chalk it up to life in field, however after I finished telling the story to my mother, “the boyfriend” and a few of my homegirls, they all said the same thing: “I would have cussed him out”. I didn’t think cussing anyone out was appropriate, but I did think that it warranted a discussion. So I approached him and asked if that’s where his head was at. I wasn’t nasty, I wasn’t rude I was just direct.
I think he was stunned, and not so much because it wasn’t true, but probably because he assumed that I just wouldn’t ask him something like that. Too bad. There are things you say in a work environment and there are things you don’t. Asking me if “my baby’s father is still in the picture” is one of them. The other? Asking if the pregnant girl I just mentioned is married. Neither have a damn thing to do with the industry I am in, and neither pass for polite get-to-know-you conversation. I am not altogether sure which question reeks more of sheltered socio-economic snobbery and borderline racism but make no mistake they are wholly inappropriate.
So basically his response was “I’m not that way”, and though I wanted to enquire exactly what way he meant, I think the pale shaken and stuttering way that he responded was enough. I wanted to ask him why he didn’t enquire about my ex-husband or the sex of the child or its due date instead of going directly to the questions he asked however it wasn’t important. I also wanted to bring up the fact that he always says “Now you have two kids right?” but that would just be splitting hairs. The fact of the matter is I already know why he asked what he asked there is no need for him to deny or qualify it. For some people its simple math Black woman + Child = No Daddy. Which to some may mean all sorts of other things like welfare, uneducated, societal drain, crime and poverty but lets just stick to what I asked about.
I am still sort of waiting for him to dust off the two stock responses I am used to hearing which are “I don’t see color” and “Some of my best friends are black”. Sure neither have anything to do with thinking that all black women get knocked by random MIA dudes, but it doesn’t seem to matter really when reaching for the “I’m Not A Racist” defense. I don’t even know that he is racist, he most likely isn’t, but I do know that he hasn’t had much experience with black people in his life, which may be the reason for the funky inappropriate questions. I’ll never be quite sure whether he is completely oblivious to the obvious pitfalls of asking such questions, but I do know that if given the opportunity to ask a similar one in the near future, he may mull it over a moment or two.
Ehhh it is what it is but I am under no obligation to let such things slide or fester. If I need to know something I will just flat out ask, especially if I feel like you’ve made some sort of uninformed judgment about me or those deem to be like me. I would hate to walk around here thinking that folks judge me based on my professionalism and hard work when it may really be about whether or not I was married when I gave birth. That’s something you just cant assume you gotta ask and part of being Avin is being okay with who I am every day. Its asking the tough questions, or maybe being the unpopular kid and certainly its about not being afraid to stand up for myself. So if I make folks tummy’s feel funny along the way then so be it, but like G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle”.