by today's Urban Chameleon contributor
Last night my aunt called me very upset after returning from a retreat with her company. Apparently everyone had to write a couple of paragraphs on ways they could improve as a company as a team building exercise. As my aunt was giving her presentation two women began to laugh. She stopped reading to ask what was so funny and the two women just shook their heads and said nothing. My aunt continued to read and they continued to laugh. So she stopped again and insisted on knowing what was so funny. One finally replied, “It's just the way you speak. We can't understand with your accent.”
My aunt, replied, “I was born and raised in Haiti, I am also an American citizen and if you could write and speak French even half as well as I speak and write English you should be so lucky.” Ignoring her they continued to laugh and when my aunt looked over to her manager for support he was chuckling his damn self! Inside she withered away in embarrassment as she discontinued reading and sat back down.
It amazed me that my aunt could be at a job 27 years and not have any kind of a support system to handle such childish behavior. I also felt angry that she was more concerned about loosing her job than further addressing the issue but for her it wasn’t worth loosing what she had built with in those 27 years. I began to think further about the sacrifices she, and my mom had made for me by migrating to America just so I can become an Urban Chameleon. I had the luxury of appearing to be a native of either Haiti or America having perfected the accent and culture of both countries…just not to be laughed at I guess. But what made it worse is that the women laughing were Black.
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