We have all encountered individuals who make their own perception of you before actually getting to know you. Being an African-American with a hearing disability and working with other women, I encountered this problem a lot.
I recall working at an Assisted Living home here in Charlotte, NC. I was giving the role of working with Activities and resident tours with families and tenants. I enjoyed the opportunity of speaking with the family, showing them our facility and just laughing with the elderly tenants. Not once was I questioned about my disability when words slipped pass my ear, and I had to ask for them to repeat themselves.
It all started with nursing, rehabilitation therapists, and housekeeping were the ones that through the stones behind me. While working at an Assisted Living Facility, I walked past an older adult housekeeper who I have passed so many times on the halls. No words have ever been exchanged between us, but this day, I felt the need to open and speak. “Hello, how are you today” I said with a big smile. Her unfriendly facial expression caught me completely off guard. As she made her way out of the room, she says I AM FINE, THANKS FOR ASKING. IT WOULD Have been NICE IF YOU would have ANSWERED ME THE OTHER DAYS I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU”. That’s when I said in a stern voice, “did it ever once cross your mind to tap me on the shoulder, to pull me aside and speak with me one on one, to even ask upper management was there something they should share about me to help you and the rest understand me”. She shook her head NO as in why go through all those extra measures. That’s when I pulled my hair back from over my ears and exposed my two best friends, left and right. Don’t ever judge me again for something out of my control.” She was left in that hall with a blank stare.
As women, especially women of color, we’re misconceived as being angry, bitter, miserable and stuck up; that’s exactly how I was being viewed by own colleagues. This is an ideology that we must cease especially amongst African-American women. We are so quick to pass judgement that we often forfeit the opportunity of better understanding one another. Let’s do away with misconception!