Growing up, I was a pretty good student. I used to make the A/B honor roll, (until I realized I would rather talk) — I participated in activities outside of school, I was interested in serving my community, and I loved meeting new people. In my neighborhood, race wasn’t a big thing. My hometown has a small town vibe and everyone basically knew each other! We had a diverse student population at my high school, so racial tension hadn’t been apart of my reality until later in life. For the most part, we were all treated equally and everyone had their own personal reasons for striving for greatness in their life. These reasons weren’t rooted in race, they were rooted in shooting for the stars! I mean, they don’t call it the “Rocket City,” for nothing!
All of that changed once I went to college. As planned, college showed me another perspective on what it means to successful and black in America. I attended a very racially charged university, and quite frankly, it was a culture shock for me. I was so confused as to why the black kids were so heavily influenced by the dominant white culture. I wondered why the black kids, “acted white,” even though they were obviously black. I wondered why there was no true expression of art form– unless it fit into the mold of the dominant white culture present on the campus. I noticed how there was a certain “code” that was understood amongst black students, and many of those same black students were quite successful as far as campus life goes.
They were accepted into the secret groups, they were elected into the student government, they were even invited to be in the “elite” student groups that aimed to represent the culture of the university. Of course, there were only 1 or 2 blacks represented in these said groups, but they were there. And they surely acted the part. They knew the “code,” and they used it to their advantage.
I’ll never forget meeting one of my longtime friends in college. She is a dad girl and would always talk about how her father told her she had to be “twice as nice,” to make it as a black person in America. At that time, this concept was something new to me, but it stuck with me over the years.
College was fun! But college was also a very dark time for me, but in hindsight I realized I was simply being introduced to the harsh reality of what it meant to achieve success in white-collar society:
If you’re black, you have to be twice as nice and you have to work 10Xs harder than your white counterparts just to get the same level of recognition.
I was devastated. You mean to tell me that even though I was killing it all through my primary school years, that my accolades wouldn’t amount to anything compared to my white counterparts?! I thought I was doing something! First it’s the black tax, and now this?! The game changed as soon as I enrolled into a PWI. I got a taste of the predominately white society I’d soon be entering.
I’m a first-generation Nigerian American, and I was once under the impression that maybe I inherited my ambition and work ethic from my paternal family. Maybe I was so hard on myself because I wanted to live up to some invisible standard I’d set for myself in order to be “successful.” I even thought the pressure to be perfect was all in my head. But it was not. It was a real, toxic-ish, reaction to my lived experiences.
I even decided to take this advice to another level and decided to:
Carry the confidence of a mediocre white man.Why you should carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man
But, honestly this is what I found out. After 4 years of undergrad at a PWI, 2 years of graduate school, 3 years of working as a federal employee, and 4 years of working as a communications consultant; this theory had finally been confirmed, for me.
Yes, you have to be twice as nice and most of the time, that still isn’t enough.Tweet
The “twice as nice” advice is actually quite common among black families. In fact, when I asked my Facebook community about this topic, many of my friends shared their own personal story of how the twice as nice advice either helped or hurt them along the way. I even had a white male counterpart share that he never even heard of this concept, until I shared this post on my Facebook page! Yes, we do live in two different worlds. But, not anymore.
This topic came to my mind in lieu of the events of 2020 and the ever-changing world we live in today. I’m so glad that I found my way out of corporate and finally decided to be myself and create from the depths of my soul. I decided to reject these oppressive philosophies and to instead, revel in the essence of who I truly am. No more code-switching, no-more faking it until you make it, and no more fear-based decision-making while feeling lesser than just because I’m BLACK!
This old world –as in this way of living, HAS ENDED. Again, this OLD WAY OF THINKING has ended, and a new world is currently upon is. Can’t you tell?
Actually, We Are More Than Enough
In case you missed it, things are changing. Things are changing rapidly, across the globe– and not just in the workforce. Today, things are evolving from the global oppression of minorities to the spiritual uprising of minorities! Just recently, many companies that encouraged us to be twice as nice, came out with their “statements” on how they support the black lives matter movement. They have pushed their token black employees to the front of the mic, and are using black people MORE THAN EVER, as a way to show their “diverse corporate culture.” I’m here to let you know, we aren’t having it!
People that have been told they weren’t “good enough,” have taken that same energy and decided to employ themselves, start their own businesses, and redefine what it means to be successful in America. It’s a brand new day.
To every black person reading this post, I challenge you to shift your way of thinking. Truth be told, I had to learn how to “tone it down, to stick around,” because I am naturally a creative genius! I am naturally a high vibrational frequency, and I put all of my soul into the work that I create. To my surprise, this spirit of joy and loving the work that you do is NOT welcome in the former workforce we once viewed as law. In fact, it’s discouraged.
I challenge you to realize that you are enough. You are more than enough! We are Kings and Queens, looking to advance in a system that was designed without us in mind. How does that make sense? We are born with gifts, skills, and talents that don’t fit into “industry,” because our gifts come directly from Source, from the Creator.