Since I was 6 years old, I knew I wanted to become a CEO of a company. I would watch informercials about going to college and becoming a business owner. Eventually, I lived those dreams. I went to college and studied business obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business and two master’s degree in business
For many years, I chased my dreams of becoming a Finance Manager in the automotive industry. At one point, I entertained the idea of becoming an owner of a dealership. Due to what I observed, I was not sure that my dream could become a reality because of how things operated. I didn’t’ think I would ever get an opportunity to advance. In the back of my mind, I have always known that racism still exist and that no one wanted to address it. I was once told it is a touchy subject, one that I could not win. The system is built to dismiss it. Because of racism, I knew that I would encounter many more obstacles in order to achieve dreams. Often questioning myself as to how much more I had in me to conquer these obstacles.
Over the years, the hurt and pain that I was feeling took a toll on me. I continued to try only to find myself questioning WHY? It took me a long time to realize that no one could give me an identity or purpose, and I did not need to be accepted.
I finally reached my goal; I finally had my own office and as soon as my career got started good, I was let go. One day my career in Finance came to an end. I found myself in the middle of a war with my previous employer. I was asked, “Why would the same manager at the time, who hired me knowing my race, fire me.” I was told by the organization representative, that my race was clear when I was hired. I was written up and asked to step down from my position with no documentation to back up their statement. Then a few days later because I refused to, I was fired. I searched for answers that would prove to me that their statement was true, but I found nothing. My General manager at that time made up things to defame my character.
There is an adage that says history repeats itself, and in this case and so many other cases that surfaces around the world, some behavior in history never changes.
Sentiments was described perfectly in the 2009 film “The Help.” The film and novel recount the story of an aspiring white female journalist. The story focuses on her relationship with two black maids, during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 Jackson Mississippi. The journalist narrates from the Maids point of view exposing the racism they faced while working for white families. During that time, Black domestic workers in the 1960s America was referred to as “the help.” It was against the rules to treat the help with human decency.
This written piece documented the mistreatment of African American Maids during that time and even though they were treated unfairly they continued to work and serve through those conditions because they had to be able to provide for their families. And still today, a lot of African Americans work to provide for their families. Often, we remain in situations because there is not a clear path without jeopardizing our families; Fear paralyzes people. Imagine putting your all into something and hearing you are not good enough or your performance is inadequate all the while you are being judged on an unfair scale. They challenged my position and undermined my intelligence.
Just because someone is hired for a job does not mean that they are treated with equal or the same respect as others. This story (The Help) was very similar to mine because the general manager and my reporting manager both had an opportunity to treat me fairly, but instead of doing what was right and treating me like a part of the organization they made things difficult. When someone turns their head at doing what is right it signifies that they go along with what is wrong.
People will never understand racism if they will not allow themselves to see African Americans as an equal and not less. It sickens me when people need to feel superior as if the control of my future lies in their hands. For many years no one heard us, but I will not stop speaking against it.
This time, I am speaking UNINTERRUPTED. I do not need an attorney to be heard especially one that does not have the best interest of doing what is right. No one will take my power and tell me that I am less than or tell me that I have failed myself. Here me when I say this, I AM NOT THE HELP!
Our FUTURE was never determined by you. And using white privilege will never STOP us from becoming. We are NOT THE HELP!
This feature was submitted by Twanja Windley
Twanja Windley is a Real Estate Agent, with Keller Williams Greenville Central, and a health & fitness influencer. After completing her undergrad at the University of South Carolina, she received a Master of Arts in Management & Leadership, along with an MBA, from Webster University.
Twanja has taken on a writing career and is looking forward to publishing her script titled About That Pain: Changing Your Mindset Changes Your Circumstances. She is also in the process of starting The Twindle Foundation Scholarship Fund. She resides in Greer, SC.