I’ve Had So Many Angela Bassett Moments
My grandmother always used to say,
«Work hard Rebecca, give the very best of yourself, and you’ll get rewarded».
When I got into corporate much earlier on in my life, I religiously followed her advice. But the truth is that she was wrong. As a Black woman, working hard never got me anywhere. I was passed over for jobs, I wasn’t promoted, and people less capable than I was, and sometimes even with much less experience, were given roles that I deserved. I swallowed my pride, hell, I swallowed my whole entire damn ego because I – we, had to eat.
As I watched Angela Bassett’s face at the Oscar ceremony the other night, right at the moment that they called Jamie Lee Curtis’ name for Best Supporting Actress, instead of hers, I could feel exactly the way she felt. That feeling of dejection, that feeling of rejection. You’ve worked hard, you’ve given everything in you, and yet, despite all that, they just don’t give you the recognition that you deserve. They just don’t give you that prize, they just don’t acknowledge you, and they just don’t validate your hard work.
You feel the pain trickle throughout your entire body, it invades every pore, every vein, and every artery. It simmers within you yet you can’t let it break you, not there, not then, not in front of the whole world. So, you bury it deep within you, you suppress it until you can find a safe place to cry.
Yes, the Angela Bassett moments come often in a Black woman’s life. One of my friends once called it a rite of passage, but for me, that doesn’t make sense. Normally, a rite of passage happens once or twice at the beginning of a key period of one’s life, like puberty for example. In this case, however, Black women go through this excruciating rite of passage of not being valued, and/or recognized, multiple times in their lives. There is no other sentence to explain what it feels like, other than,
«It’s pure, unadulterated pain, the type that burns, the type that stings, the type that can throw you off your axis».
The other day, a white male friend of mine who quite unlike me had climbed the corporate ladder fast and furiously and had been given brilliant opportunities at home and…