In Plain Sight

What Mel Did, London office block

My inbox this morning is overrun with organisations advocating for black lives; pledging to be there for black mothers, black children, black businesses; for me.

These pledges are not unlike those which flooded my inbox at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. A mass swell of organisations eager to be on the right side of history on how well they handled this sickness.

I read through these outpourings from CEOs and their counterparts over my morning coffee, knowing in the slush pile there may be genuine feeling. But my nagging internal voice taps me on the shoulder asking if they had first looked around their own organisations for the fairness and diversity they seek and are now pedalling into my inbox.

For some, this will involve the tokenism of appointing more black employees, regardless of their qualification for the job, not understanding a leg-up based solely on the colour of one’s skin is not a compliment. Having the same doors and chances opened to us because our qualifications or character plainly say it should be so, is the ask.

On talk radio last night, the subject Mr George Floyd, a white guest was asked the same question my internal dialogue this morning has yet to find an answer to:

“Why now?”

“Because people have had enough,” he said.

Not untrue.

For sure, as a black woman I have had enough for a long long time. Candidly? I am exhausted.

The applying for jobs when younger, being accepted for interview on the basis of my new shiny qualifications – and then the job mysteriously having been filled when presenting my shiny self at Corporation Inc.

And in the recent past, a junior colleague appointed as manager who did not possess the essential qualifications or experience.

The continual professional injustices one swallows lest you be labelled “An Angry Black Woman.”

Exhausted my children 30 years on are protesting the same unjust themes. 

My internal dialogue goes on to wonder if Mr George Floyd has caught the civil consciousness because of COVID19. People trapped in their homes by mandate, with more opportunities to catch the swathe of news reporting; relentless exposure to the traumatic retelling of Mr Lloyd’s brutal murder at the hands of US law enforcement.

Was there just nowhere to hide?

And now this corporate imperative to be seen to be seeing what was always there in plain sight. Or rather not there in organisations and board rooms up and down this country.

So, I thank you Corporations Inc, and I will try to be grateful for your email this morning, and the realisation that “Black Lives Matter.”

But my inbox already knew that.

Rest in peace, Mr Floyd.

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