Home Empowerment 20 Awkward Moments for Black People at Work

20 Awkward Moments for Black People at Work

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“Did he really just ask me about my hair today?”

The other day I’m sitting at work on my computer and instead of work, I’m on Twitter. Most of my coworkers are cool and while we can occasionally hang out and get into some trouble, they know we have boundaries. This one guy on my team does not know what that means and he proceeds to ask me, “Hey what’s your Twitter account?” I paused for a moment. I thought to myself, how would I explain this to him? There was absolutely no chance of him getting my Twitter account name. I looked him straight and the eye and I said, “My friends and I don’t have Twitter so we created a group account to go online and read the timeline from time to time. I can’t remember the name, it’s very discreet.” My boss was standing there and he knew that made absolutely no sense, but he also knows, we have boundaries. Today’s post is about those awkward moments and questions at work. It’s in those moments that Black people are reminded, being Black in America is like a constant state of paranoia. Check out the list.

1. When your coworker asks if you’re going to answer your phone, and since you don’t know the number you ignore it. (Secretly, you know that it’s Verizon Wireless or Sallie Mae calling from that unknown number.)



2. When they ask you if you’ll play on the company basketball team, but never on the golf team.

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3. When someone asks if you want chicken for lunch, and you really do want chicken for lunch.

4. When you’re asked to speak on an issue or topic for your entire race in the morning status meeting.

5. When you forget to silence your ringer, your phone goes off in that same meeting, and you realize that you’ve had Jeezy’s “Supafreak” as a ringtone for way too long.

6. When a family member calls you and asks you for money.

7. When your coworkers think that a good time to you is being in an establishment where they sell alcohol with all white people and you’re the only Black person.

8. When your coworkers think you’re attending the company retreat in the middle of the woods with all white people and you’re the only Black person.

9. When they assume you’re the atlas of the bad neighborhoods in the city. “Hey my friend is having a party at E. 99th street, is that the ghetto?”

10. When you’re at happy hour and the drinks cost, “on the house.99” and you’re discreetly trying to order Henny.

1- Dr. J

11. When you get away with not brushing your hair or getting that haircut you’ve been needing for about a week and no one notices.

12. When your coworker references a standup by a popular Black comedian like Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock.

13. When you dance at the company holiday party and everyone stares at you in amazement.



14. When your child’s teacher calls you at work about your child’s behavior and you have to start the “let me speak with him” rant.

15. When your boss has “the talk” with you about being late and you don’t get what the big deal is.

16. When your coworkers catch you smoking a Black & Mild by the loading dock during your break.

17. When you say “pause” instead of “that’s what she said” and the only person who laughs is the other Black person in the office.

18. When you realize that you still have no idea what Nalgene means.

19. When they ask you “why didn’t you just catch a cab?” but they don’t understand you tried that.

20. When you overhear your coworkers talking about the upcoming election and how Romney is going to win, and Obama has to go.

They say you should never talk about politics at work, but when you’re the majority, you can do whatever you want. That’s why if you worked with all Black people a lot of these things wouldn’t be awkward, they’d be downright hilarious. Also, I don’t think only Black people do these things on this list. There’s a white woman at my job who’s son calls and cusses her out just about everyday about cereal and homework. It’s just not as awkward for them because we all feel sorry for her. If that happened to a Black women, they’d say she’s a bad mother and just stare. Nonetheless, that’s what makes it’s awkward, here on SBM we can laugh about it all day long. Feel free to share your thoughts on this post, maybe a funny story, or any moments that I’ve missed on my list.

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Comment(52)

  1. 1. When people ask you about the latest NBA/NFL scores and when you say "I don't know" they look at you with disgust…b/c all black people work for ESPN.

    2. When you're discussing a car problem and someone asks you what you drive, then you hesitate to tell them b/c you know you drive a better car than they do.

    3. When they're discussing a racial matter and everybody immediately looks to you to answer the question…and you have no idea what they're talking about.

    4. When you have to do a presentation and all the white people give you the "you speak so well" treatment as if you were an affirmative action hire and incapable of doing what you're paid to do.

    1. this list was mad stuck up, ur a cornball, ur saying u don't watch the NFL which is the biggest sport in america, u don't pay attention to racial stuff going on in america and you drive a better car than everyone else…..ur a lame my dude, i agree with #4 tho cuz that happens

    2. Oooooohhh ……I hate that number 3….I've only been told that once or twice…..I replied "well thank you, I had the exact same home training you had, imagine that." lol
      Nowadays I think they say that behind your back as opposed to face to face cause they know it's offensive and just a stupid thing to say.
      Sad thing is we all say the same thing about many foreigners. Thing is, in many countries English is actually their only language, they just speak with an accent depending on where they are from. Or you ask someone from another country what language they speak and they're like English, you ask them no what is your native tongue and they say English just like yours. We were conquered by the british and we speak english just like you do, just with an accent.

  2. 1. When White people make reference to a Rap song you have never even heard and look at you like you should know it.

    2. When you tell them that you spent the night READING and they are like " Really?"

    3. When they starting asking you if something is " Ratchet"

    4.When somebody tells a somewhat racial joke or story and then your presence kills the mode ( Guys its a joke, I can handle it)

    5. When people ask you about how "swaggerful" their appearance is

    1. 1. When White people make reference to a Rap song you have never even heard and look at you like you should know it.

      2. When you tell them that you spent the night READING and they are like " Really?"

      These two are my life.

  3. I actually laughed out loud at 2-4 and then I straight faced five. That's REALLY embarrassing.

    13. Others being enraptured with my dancing. Once I was at a cafe waiting for some people to show up and I was sitting in the cut and it was pretty dim — it was actually rather dark. So I'm thinking no one can see in the dark and when a good song selection came on I danced like I do at home. Everyone in the cafe watched. In silence. Awkward.

    19. the cab thing. People tend to talk to me like "why didn't you, why haven't you, why couldn't you." Catching everyone up to "I did, I have, I can, and yeah….even that" is a land of suckfest for me.

    I work for myself and about 90% of the time I'm working BY myself; so, my awkward moment list has a slight variant.

    1. ONE: having made up my job and telling people what I do for a living. 'I'm….an….idea, consultant? I'm, an idea developer. I'm an Executive Consultant. Here's my card.'
      TWO: being asked how much money I make and sounding like a Cuban cartel.
      THREE: conversing with someone who isn't fond of their 9-5 and I adore my 7am-11pm.
      FOUR: going to a convention and people knowing who I am.
      FIVE: the feeling I get when approached and I've already declined the offer.
      SIX: someone I'm doing charity work with who's used to seeing me look like a tomboy or 'Nun Incognito' seeing me on business and I look like I've hired myself as a personal stylist.
      SEVEN: walking out of a building and seeing a high powered black man smoking a black and mild on his break and thinking 'I'd f*ck him on his desk.'
      EIGHT: getting the business because of eye contact.
      NINE: my white clientele understanding my wit better than black people do. Awkward.

  4. 1. Constantly being questioned about my hairstyle. (I've had this locs for 8 yrs, ppl…been getting them styled for about 7 yrs…you should have all the answers you need by now.)

    2. When the meeting is just about over, they start talking about random things without officially ending the meeting…laughing and joking, and all the black folks are eyeballing each other…inching toward the edge of the chair. (I'm not here for all that. Is this over or what?)

    3. Them: "Are you contributing/coming to the lunch time holiday potluck?" Us: "See, the way my bank account (and stomach) is setup…"

    1. the hair thing is so real. almost once a week "how do you get your hair like that?" i have a medium length natural look…so i go back and forth between twist outs, flexi rod sets, wash and gos, etc

      ironically, when i feel like my hair is a hot mess, they love it. when i take the time to do something fly, i get nothing :-/

      1. HA! Isn't that something how hot mess is such a crowd pleaser? I'm currently rocking a bang and a bun, albeit with my natural hair but it's literally just a lazy bang and a bun. I've been complimented and interrogated about my hair by at least 7 people during one 8 hour work day.

    2. Cyn I feel u on the number 1. I think every black woman has experienced that if she's worked amongst a group of white folks.
      I've had braids and weaves and have worn wigs…I like playing with people and telling them it's my real hair….they actually try to look all in my scalp to see if it's my hair….then come the questions…."how do they do that?" "how long did it take?" "did it take them 3 days to braid your hair like that?" lol. I try to make light of it and not make too big of a deal out of it. Most times they mean no harm, they are really just curious.

      1. I know they're curious but I've been working with the same folks since '05, lol. That's 7 yrs of the same daggon answers! LMBO! Stop asking me already!

  5. 1. Asking to touch my hair ( Im natural and normally wear my hair in twists or a puff)…and when I say no, they beg and say "But it looks so fluffy and soft" o_O I am not a pet poodle

    2. Asking me how to pronounce certain black names (I work in healthcare)…Sh*t im just as confused as you are.

  6. These have actually happened at my last job…

    1. There's a new black/latina girl…a coworker even says "she seems like you're type" :/

    2. Early in my diet i'm drinking lots of water, coworker discreetly asks if they're drug testing

    3. Assuming I have newports on deck

    4. sideeyes because i had watermelon chunks for #breffis

    5. Calling me T-Dog, T-Man, Big T..Its Tristan muhfugga Tristan

    My recent post Today’s Word is… MAN

    1. Trist I feel u on that number 1…..white folks stay tryna hook u up with the other black folks of the opposite sex…..annoying as hell.

  7. lol I'm the only black person on my team and every month we have a little lunch where this one guy cooks meat and we all bring the extras.

    I've purposefully avoided eating watermelon when it is brought.
    My recent post Murci, Murci Me

    1. You ever ate something on the inside corner of your desk so no one could peep the food? I do that all the time. However, in group settings I always make sure not to get anything fried and refrain from chicken when I can.

      1. I know so many white folks that love chicken, popeyes, kfc, and watermelon it's not even funny….lol
        They eat more watermelon than the black folks…lol

  8. It’s always awkward when you’re the only Black person in your group (or at your site, like me ;-/ ) and folks go out of their way to describe you without saying your Black. “Oh Jubi? She’s about this tall, with glasses…ummm…she’s wearing a red shirt…”. It’s ok White ppl, you can say I’m Black, it’s not a secret.

    1. Nah but on the real though… listen to the way they describe other people when they're not around and you'll know they call you the Black one. Trust me, I peeped it.

    2. Jubilance the awkward moment for me is when anyone non-black is describing a black person and they say "african-american" they Never just say black..

  9. 1. Getting a weave and everyone staring in amazement and asking a million questions.

    2. Listening to the Steve Harvey show in the morning and keeping the volume low so they won’t hear the strawberry letter.

    3. Pretending to know what’s going on in the republican party.

    4. Not knowing whether to laugh or be offended when your white coworker shows you the latest ratchet YouTube video.

    5. Slipping up and sucking your teeth.

    6. Waiting for months for someone to bring up Trayvon Martin

  10. 1 awkward moment is when folks ask u what u did over the weekend and it's something u don't wanna talk about cause u dont' want anyone to know u went to the club or a rap concert or something.
    So u lie about what u did and say not much…lol

  11. An awkward moment for me that I experience right now all the time at work is when white folks and non-black folks say "my bad"……my 60 something yr old cowrker said that to me and I was like wtf! Blew me so much I couldn't even laugh about it.

  12. When white coworkers come back from a vacation and say "HEY! I got a tan, now I'm almost dark as you are"

    also My name is DMario, not D-Mo, D-Mac, or D.

  13. When my white male co-workers can't understand why I'm loving that particular rap song when "they're so disrespectful to you ladies!" How can I explain this? It's the beat dude…. the beat plus I know Gucci Mane aint talking about me!

  14. Or when you tell them what part of town you live (you know, where all the black people live) and they get all protective and go "But that's a dangerous neighborhood. Isn't it scary?" Ummmm, for you it is. I'm black!

    1. I'm so dead. They always want to call me, "bro" and i'm like if you do that I will call you bro all the time until you hate it. I'll "broseph" the hell out of everybody in this office.

      People don't ever assume i'm dating the other black girl, they keep running up to me asking me which white girls in the office like black guys like I have some type of radar for that. Like, how in the world do I know? Facebook them and look at their pictures, I ain't got a clue.

  15. 1. When your white coworkers assume that you know the new black hire, who's in a different department…in a different building. I do but I can't let them know that, lol.

    2. When everyone is amazed at "how long your hair got this weekend". I'm natural and the first time I came into the office with straightened hair everyone was so intrigued…I'm pretty sure someone pulled out an iPhone and snapped a pic.

    3. When you return from a recent vacay and white coworkers discreetly ask if you visited the most "black" areas. (Ex: after returning from NY, someone asked what Harlem was like -_-) Again, I probably did but I can't let them know that!

    4. When you bring a date to the office social and the white women offer compliments on my "hot boyfriend" or "how cute we are together". Be real, he's tall, black, muscular and you're turned on…period! It's fine.

  16. I Don't know why but White people always get loud and start using slang when they talk to me Lol. Like my name is Ginger they are like, "WHASSUP GINGAH?!" And give me a High five That mess is hilarious cause I'm the most quiet person in the place. I do use slang but why are they switching it up with me?.. Epic

  17. I don't think about it, honestly. I avoid talking about race. Other than that, I'm treated like a normal person. No one ever asks me about black issues. It rarely happens, actually. I don't think, "what will white people think" when I wake up in the morning. I also don't think, "what will black people think". I simply avoid the question and move on with my day. I do hate being singled out because I'm black or being noticed because I'm black or people being surprised at how intelligent I am. You see, when you're smarter than white people they automatically respect you. I don't seek their respect or approval, it just naturally happens. Maybe I'm missing some signs or something, but when you're relaxed, calm and honest, they seem perfectly fine. I have gotten the "most black people aren't" and "you're not black" things from whites. Honestly, I don't feel anything when anyone says those types of things. Racism doesn't bother me… I do, however, have a burgeoning distastes for whites, in general. They seem like a rather selfish and fearful people. Also, the arrogance of their race exceeds no other. I dislike that they think they have ownership over me, can tell me what to do, think they know what's best for me etc. You never know where you stand with one of those people. You can never really know whether you're as "amazing" as they say you are. As far as their "accomplishments". I imagine the center of the universe will be oriented towards another state in the future, and the other figures will take center stage.

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