ETHNIC WORKAHOLISM: HOW RACIAL STEREOTYPES HAS EFFECTED BLACK PEOPLE’S WORK ETHIC

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“Living to work.”

As a child my mother would explain to me the hurdles in life I would have to overcome to succeed in America. Conversing with me about how people in society who may not like me simply because of their own beliefs towards those who look like myself. She wasn’t giving me this knowledge as a means to keep me from pursuing my goals in life. She just wanted me to be aware of the pitfalls I may come up against. Was she lying, no; everything I was taught growing up, I experienced. What has it done, it makes you work harder. Sounds fine right; wrong. If anything, your life becomes a job and not necessarily one to be enjoyed. Well, what do I mean by not enjoying your existence?

After leaving high school, I experienced more of what I was raised I would experience. What it now does it that you not only work harder, but it becomes an obsession. You live to work and not work to live. Meaning hard working Black people, especially males, you tend to work to combat something that is racially driven. You’re not working to pay bills, feed yourself & family, or even enjoy your life. You’re just working on a daily basis to combat stereotypes. Most of which state that Black people are lazy and don’t want to work. So, a lot of times your home life or social life fails. Then to add to it, if you work in a professional environment where you’re one of only Black people working there you have to put in more. Because when you screw up, it will catch more attention.

Well, why, why when we do achieve as Black people it’s usually on such a high level? The reason being that we are taught as children that if you’re not twice as good as your White counterparts in your pursuit in life, you’re not going to be successful. We are taught you have to be twice as good to be average. It’s the same reason why Black athletes succeed at such a high level, Black entertainers bring so much to entertainment, and in day to day society we have to go so hard. My pursuit in life is to be a writer for the most part. While the average White male or female want to write compelling material, my goal is to be above Ernest Hemingway or Edgar Allan Poe. It’s only to be average to their work because I have to, not because I choose to.

There are plenty of days, I wish I could be just a normal run of the mill guy. But my average is seen as below average on the charts. So I have to try to crush the past generations of White men and women’s work to be their equal. If they sold 1 million books, you aim at trying to sell 5 million. Because throughout American history, your 5 is their 1. Now, some can say that’s ridiculous, but look at the leaders. There have been some pretty average White men and women who have held very powerful positions. There have been some pretty average, even less than average films and television shows that have not performed well in theaters, yet were given the most credibility. But how many Black people in those same positions have been mediocre, and held top positions. The answer is none, why, because you can’t.

In the end, I’m not saying that I want to be a loser. But giving your life over to working in a world where no matter how hard you work it is still average compared to everyone else is not normal. You tend to lose the ability to build relationships with friends or monogamous relationships. Your time is spent combating more issues than building. So as for me, will I believe the idea that I don’t have to work that hard. No, because still to this day that is evident. I have to beat you (non-Black people) to be average or equal to you.

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