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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Burden of Representing...

Have you ever experienced role conflict to the point where you need a new name for role strain? Have you ever felt like you need to represent everywhere you go? Case scenario: you start a new job and you're the only black/white/asian/middle eastern/christian/young/old etc person in there. Everyday is a struggle to wake up, find your work gear and get your behind to work. Everyone has prejudices and stereotypes and so you feel the need to represent all black people whether African American, Caribbean or African. In that work place you have become the black person. In certain places you might feel the need to represent all women or all men depending on your gender.

I sometimes wonder if anyone has felt like that before. I remember back in college when they would talk about issues concerning Africa or black people in general and I'd feel like a million eyes were on me. I always felt like I had to push myself extra hard because I was the only dark skinned girl in a class of 60 students. Should I have been stressed out?

Growing up I was the pastor's kid and you know "you gotta represent!" You can't be like any of the "other" kids and throw a tantrum when you can't get your way. No marm, that is absolutely not acceptable. You had to be on your best behavior everywhere you went. No wonder some PK's (pastors kids) eventually cracked open and it was not a pretty site when they did!

Right now, I still am the single black female in a certain role. I see myself as older and wiser and don't feel the pressure to represent anyone but myself and ofcourse to bring glory to my maker. There are times when I feel the burden of representing everyone of the groups or roles which I associate myself with but at least now I understand that to be my best or for a certain defined role to bring out the best in me is not so bad after all :)


Tetekai said...

I have felt that pressure sometimes. I felt it particularly when i was the only female in a department full of guys. I was always being asked for sweets by one guy or the other, and they don't understand why i don't keep sweets in my bag. Duh, I am not a supermarket!, but that is just one thing compared to 'so when are you going to cook for us to eat?'.
You can only be who you are and not get lost in the whole representing thing.

Jaycee said...

Yes, I have felt that pressure and still do. God created us to be ourselves, to shine the brightest we can be wherever we are, and certainly not because of pressure or stress to do so. I'm learning to let go from a world filled with prejudices and stereotypes, and just be the best 'me' God created me to be.

yankeenaijababe said...

This can be your best opportunity to shine as a black lady. I know what you mean and it can suck sometimes. Just be yourself, do what you have to do and God will give you favour...miss ya.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you are doing a fantastic job at representing yourself. Keep on doing what you do and may the good Lord see you through it all, Amen.

Maxine said...

@TETEKAI- You're right! You can only be who you are. Sometimes that gets a little confusing if you get caught up in representing in that role :)

@JC- otta put the best you out there for sure :)

@YNC- I'm a black star for real!...hahaha... now that means I gotta represent my motherland!...haha

@Anonymous- Thanks for the blessings and encouragement. Much appreciated :)

a cat of impossible colour said...

I'm often aware of being the only white ZImbabwean that people are likely to meet, and having to represent that whole group. Kind of exhausting! As you say, it's best just to be you.

Maxine said...

@ A cat of impossible color- OMG, I am honored that you took the time out to comment on this post!Thanks for stopping by. Often times, people are shocked when you tell them about white Zimbabwean and South Africans! Keep representing you!