Have you ever woken up, the sun was shining, birds were chirping, heck birds even helped you get dressed that morning like you were in a Disney film, and life just felt good? With each step toward your destination your heart grew lighter, and if you weren’t surrounded by people, you would have clicked your heels you were feeling that happy. But then you get in the vicinity of a lot of black people you don’t know, and before you realize it you are shrouding your happiness. Now, it’s still there, but you feel the need to hide it. You put on your stink’em face and it looks as if you’re smelling something foul. Those same birds that helped you get dressed are avoiding you because you look like you’re ready to punch them in the face. Now why would a happy black woman begin to hide her joy? Because she’s afraid that she might be seen as weak.
If there’s one thing that frustrates me it’s stereotypes. But the thing that really aggravates me and makes that vein in my lower lid begin to pulsate with annoyance, is when people began to behave like that stereotype is a fact. Now, I’m a very nice person, in fact, I agreed so much with Rachel Louissant’s article about being too much of a giver that I was tempted to look around to see if cameras were following me as a case study. But one of the downsides of being nice and a giver is that people who don’t know you, or don’t know you well, begin to talk out of their mouths to you. And why shouldn’t they, you’re too nice to lash back, right?Oh, the naivete of wanna-be bullies.
Even growing up when girls would try to start things with me, my sisters used to chastise me in saying that I shouldn’t appear so nice. It seems that niceness is equated to weakness, and there’s a saying that “if you’re a doormat, you deserve to be stepped on.” Now, no one wants to be stepped on, so people tend to hide those qualities from people who see them as proof of lack of strength.
I once worked for a company that I was a supervisor for and during a great day I had to give a tutorial to a new black employee and show her around. She seemed nice and I didn’t think that there would be an issue with being pleasant with her. But when I later went to check on her, she was vocally annoyed at my presence and if I gave her an order she ignored me. Later on, I found out by other coworkers that she was downgrading me because not only did she feel like I was weak for being too nice, but that I was also incompetent because of my happy demeanor. The words “airhead” was brandished about quite liberally if I remember correctly. Where this girl got the gall to judge my abilities to do my job within the first ten minutes that she met me was confusing. I got the position because I was good at what I did, and also because of my nice demeanor, so why is it looked down upon in the black community?
That situation wouldn’t have been so annoying if it had been the first time, or the last. People want to prove themselves to other people, and show that they are the alpha male/female. However, trying to show out usually backfires. Like the guy who beat those women up at McDonald’s, or those Youtube videos of bullies trying to instigate a fight with a weaker opponent, and then seemingly weaker person develops Hulk-like strength and then DROPS formerly known bully, oh so viciously.
As much as I love the people in my life and I loved my time in college I always learned later on that people (mostly black women) didn’t like me at first because I was considered “too nice,” or that they thought they could run over me. But when they got to know me they realized that I wasn’t weak, and then they liked me. But because of those revelations I do find myself hiding my niceness at times because I’ll see girls getting on forms of public transportation trying to find a way to prove themselves to their ignorant cohorts by trying to pick a fight with someone who is considered weak.
Now, I’ve studied group mentality, I was a Sociology minor in college, I’ve read “Lord of the Flies,” and know that when people are looking for a way to exalt their supremacy they will try to rule over a weaker specimen. However, in a day and age where we’re still systematically placed at the bottom of the totem pole, or we’re still being blamed for society’s ails, why do we find the need to exploit each other? To me, true strength lies in being competent in daily life, not competent at hurling insults at nice people. But until others realize this, I guess you’ll find me with my stink’em face on, until you get to know me.
What about you, ladies? Do you feel the need to hide your shine as not to be disrespected?
You can find Kendra Koger, a freelance writer, being nice on twitter @kkoger.
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