Usually, I would read stories like this, and chuckle with excitement to myself, but today, I felt the need to share this. I can honestly say that I’ve somewhat been in the shoes of the WMATA worker simply because you’re just trying to work and live. Not only have I felt what it was like for another person of color to try to report you, but there have also been times where I tried to better myself with job opportunities, only for me to be shunned by another person of color, simply because something I did while minding my business, or just being my authentic self (I even had a black person to do this, but that’s another story).
Years ago, when I was a newly college graduate, I had applied as a night auditor at a hotel in my hometown. My friend had just left the position, and he encouraged me to apply for it. I had applied in the past, but never received a call back, so since my friend was encouraging me, I decided to give it a second try. I had just become natural (for those of you who don’t know, this is when your hair is free from chemicals, and you style it in its natural state), so I was still trying out different hairstyles, products, etc. At the time, I wore my hair in two-strand twists, but sometimes, I would take the twists down, and it would look like curly dreads. I had seen the ads for the night auditor position in several local newspapers, as well as on the websites of those newspaper companies (this was before Google). Not only did I apply (again), but I also added my resume with it.
The manager at this hotel was a Latina. I came in, professionally dressed, with my application and resume in hand. I introduced myself, and when I told her what position I was applying for, the manager immediately said, “WE’RE NOT HIRING AT THE MOMENT!” I paused, and I asked was she sure because I was told by more than one source that they were hiring for this position. She repeated herself even louder. I said, “Ma’am, not only did three different sources tell me this position is open, but it is posted in several newspapers, as well as on local websites.” She continued to say they weren’t hiring. I asked if I could still give her my application and resume. Not only would she not take it, she continued to say the hotel wasn’t hiring. I simply thanked her for her time, and I left. I was so confused as to why she would act like that. When I told my friend about it, he immediately asked how I wore my hair. I told him it was in two-strand twists, and in an up-do. Then, he said, “that’s why she told you they weren’t hiring. It was your hair!” He proceeded to tell me this manager was known for being discriminatory against black people, even though she was a person of color herself. He continued to tell me that if she was hiring for a position, and a black woman applied, if that black woman’s hair was not straight, or in a smooth ponytail, she would not hire her. He also told me that if a black man applied for a job there, and he had dreads or braids, she would not hire him. He also told me that she fired a young man that she didn’t even hire, simply because he had dreads. She told him to cut his hair, or don’t come back. He chose not to come back. When someone threatened to report her for racial discrimination, she would immediately cry and says that she was not racist. I tried to report her, but it didn’t go anywhere.
I still feel a certain way about the actions of that manager because it’s one of the many things we black women go through. Mind you, that was not the first time something like that happened to me, and sadly, it may not be the last. I hate that we go through things like this simply because we’re seen as a threat. It hurts, but it hurts even harder when it is another person of color who performs those discriminatory actions. There’s a difference between the outcome of that manager, and the outcome of Natasha. As stated previously, that hotel incident happened way before social media, so there was no way to record what happened and report it online. I had to find and call the number for corporate, go through hoops to get to the proper party, only to wait for someone to listen to what happened. I left several messages, only for no one to ever contact me. In Natasha’s case, she’s in the social media age, where everyone pulls out their phones to record everything, as well as reporting everything online. It was easily shared on every platform, website, and blog you can imagine, and she immediately went viral. As the saying goes, the internet is forever, so this is going to haunt her for the rest of her life.
What Natasha did to that woman was horrible, and she deserved everything that happened to her. Hopefully, she has learned her lesson to never bother anyone who’s minding their business because it can really hurt you in the end.
If you want to read more about this, just Google it. It’s everywhere, but you can also find it on The Root: