“Women of color are often looked at as a never-ending well of strength, love and perseverance. We are often the last to be comforted or rescued and given very little consideration for our “feelings."
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It was a sweltering hot day in the business district in Washington DC in the early 1990s. I was a young, Black professional woman working for an international firm as a corporate services manager; I was the only person of color and the only woman in the Washington office. One of my duties was keeping the office supplied with postage and packing supplies so off I went to the post office during my lunch break.
When I arrived in the Thomas Circle post office, it was a very long line waiting for me to get to the counter but it was dead quiet there; people were just happy to be relieved for a few moments from the sweltering heat outside and catch their breath in the cool air conditioning. I was next in line for service when I felt someone standing uncomfortably close to me; this man was invading my personal space to the point that his arm was touching mine. Oddly enough, he had on a coat and I could feel the heat from his body. The man at the service counter was wearing a coat as well; I thought that was really odd until I saw the postal worker standing there with her mouth wide open in fright.
The man at the counter with the coat on had a burlap bag and asked her to fill it up with money. He spoke in a soft and low tone so sweetly and politely to her, nobody in the line realized the post office was being robbed. Suddenly, I felt something digging into my left rib; I looked down and there was a black, old-timey looking pistol pressed up against my ribcage! I closed my eyes, asked Holy God to forgive all my sins and opened my eyes again. When I opened my eyes, the robbers were gone and nobody behind me in the line even knew the post office had been robbed.
I rushed back to the office in shock and told my boss what just happened to me and he looked at me without a shred of empathy and asked me to continue working on the project I started earlier in the day. I was so outraged at the lack of compassion they had for me, I left for the rest of the day and took the following day off for my own mental health. I don’t know what was worst, having my life flash before my eyes or feeling the sting of the lack of compassion from the management team.
Women of color are often looked at as a never-ending well of strength, love and perseverance. We are often the last to be comforted or rescued and given very little consideration for our “feelings”.
I was robbed that day, not by the gunmen that held up the post office; I was robbed by my peers of human kindness, compassion and empathy.