Why Black People Don’t Congregate in the Break Room
Office politics take on a completely different meaning when you’re Black
This story was originally published through hello-collective.com, a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion consultancy based in NYC.
If you’re a Black millennial, you have likely experienced that feeling of relief and excitement when you see another Black person in the office or hired at your company. If you’re like me, you become instantly curious about who they are, what they are into, and hyped about the fact that another one of us has “made it.” There might also be a part of you that has to level out the joy inside as reality sets in.
You may have also found yourself having pure and candid conversations and shared laughter with fellow Black colleagues, and just when it is getting good, one of you will say, “Let us get back to work because there are too many of us around.” Then that fun social moment at work abruptly ends, and everyone goes back to being siloed. With all the positive internal feelings that we may possess, the “rules” of engagement in the office for Black people are different; therefore, we have no choice but to act accordingly.
When a marginalized group is not largely represented or actively included in a space, specifically professional spaces, there is constantly a feeling of singleness, loneliness, and isolation that lingers. Marginalized folks will feel the pressure that comes with their presence and what that represents for them professionally because of the subconscious need to represent their race, and sometimes gender, in the best light. This pressure influences the way an employee not only performs in their work but how they interact in those spaces.
So, why don’t Black people congregate in the break room? Here’s an extremely consolidated list of reasons why.
1. We are ensuring that our White colleagues do not feel threatened by how we occupy the space.
We have to make sure we don’t laugh too loud or slip and get too colloquial with each other because it may make others uncomfortable. We know that historically (and even recently), Black people in numbers have made our White…