Black girl magic is getting dropped off at every corner of the Earth these days, and I couldn’t be more proud. For the first time in my life I’m no longer contemplating straightening my hair for a job interview or for client meetings. (It’s still annoying when white people introduce themselves to me multiple times over simply because my hair is different. But in their defense I have been known to make some seriously drastic changes to my hair. Like long, dark, wavy weave one week and then a natural tapered blond the next.)
Surprisingly (or not) no matter how far we’ve come with enforcing and reinforcing natural 4a, b, c, and d coily hair as #HairGoals, I can’t help but wonder if code switching is still a thing. I mean, when I walk in with my afro should I feel compelled to switch to my high pitch voice? You know the one that’s less threatening and super approachable? The one that somehow lessens the stereotype of the angry black girl. Because simply being black also classifies me as being angry (insert eye roll).
And yes I understand that there will always be a way you act at work and a way you act at home. It’s like the equivalent of yoga pants and a business suit. But the code switching I’m talking about is more than just layering on a professional tone. It’s that thing we do with our voices to hide our blackness to make sure our peers and superiors aren’t intimidated or offended by us. Or is it to show them that we can assimilate because we believe that the only way to do well at our jobs is to be more like them and less like us.
Wait…have we convinced ourselves through some impractical misrepresentation of the world that the tone of our voice is too black? Or is it just that whiteness is so often perpetuated that no matter how big our Afros get we never really stop believing that white is the only right?
I mean I just want to know is code switching still a thing. No judgement if it is. I make a conscious effort to catch myself because I don’t want it to be a thing. But each time I do that I am reminded that somehow switching is engrained in my head as an unspoken requirement of my employment. Am I the only one? Are you still doing it?