The Mask

Self Hatred: The Mask  – Is It Still Necessary and Is It Still Being Used

The fifth and final installment of the Self Hatred topic focuses on the mask and how it effects the Black Community.

The 3 Questions

1. Have you ever worn the mask and if so where and why?

2. Do we only where the mask when in the company of other races?

3. Will there ever come a day when the mask won’t be necessary?

FRONT STREET

We have all been there.  We have all had that feeling We don’t belong in the rarified air of Our colleagues at Our jobs and in some cases Our friends and family.  We have all had to wear the mask in order to make it through situations.  But when does the mask become self hatred?  When does wearing the mask become dishonest to yourself and what you are?  Are you ashamed of who you are or are you just cognizant of the situation?  These are questions that Black people consciously or unconsciously face everyday.  Does the use of the mask contribute to the destruction of the Black Community?

Please write in and response to our 3 poll questions or post some questions that you would like to see asked.  These question and more were addressed on 11/15/2020 in our Roundtable which is also available on YouTube.

The Mask 

7 thoughts on “The Mask”

  1. 1. Have you ever worn the mask and if so where and why?

    I wouldn’t say that I have worn the mask on purpose but do I act the exact same around every person or everywhere I go. I feel that I am relatively consistent around mixed race company. However I will admit that I am more comfortable around my own people but then again who isn’t?

    2. Do we only where the mask when in the company of other races?

    I feel that I unknowingly wear the mask just as much around certain Black people as I do around certain White people. I talk a little different even though I am saying the same thing. I act a little more or little less active, more around Black people and less around white. I think this is a result of me being conscious of the historical stereotypes attached to Black people.

    3. Will there ever come a day when the mask won’t be necessary?

    Yes I feel that when we get over all of our mess from the past that everyone can be open and honest with each other. However, I feel that we are nowhere near that point yet.

  2. 1. Ever where the mask, when and why? Yes, around both white and black folks. When around whirs folks more attentive to the tone I use when engaging because of the perception of the aggressive African American woman. When around black folks I uses more slang and “assessed” black mannerisms because people in my black race say I “act white”— whatever that means.

    2. Only around other races? No

    3. Ever a time the mask not necessary? In time.

  3. 1. Have you ever worn the mask and if so where and why? Yes, unfortunately it remains a necessity in the modern white collar world. In many of the upper level meetings I am privy to I am the only POC in the room. But to be fair, those in the meeting have to wear a mask, too. There is a certain persona and type that has an easier time finding success in the corporate environment.

    2. Do we only where the mask when in the company of other races? Only at work, race doesn’t matter, though I am more prone to “let my hair down” around those who look like me. They pay for the work product which is the whole show, style and substance. They don’t pay me to be me, they pay me to do the job the way they want in the manner most favorable to them.

    3. Will there ever come a day when the mask won’t be necessary? I don’t think so. Professionalism is a mask, few of us speak or act the way that a corporation would like in our spare time and many of the the things we personally think and feel would be unacceptable in a professional setting. For example, I hate the smell of most Philippino food which may be considered racist by most but the fact is that I am as much Philippine as I am black. Around my family that statemen might get some disagreement but it wouldn’t end in me getting fired, which it could at work in the right environment. Perhaps not for that exact statement but something along those lines. So a mask is necessary for us all, not just blacks. I know many non-blacks and if they said or did the the things I know they do away from work they would be fired just as easy as a black person.

  4. 1) Yes I have worn a mask once and I didn’t like it. I was in Los Angeles working on set for a TV show Boston Public and needless to say there was only a couple of black folks on set in the midst of a shitload of white people. This was only my 2nd professional gig post school and I was looking to take my cues from everyone else around me in how to conduct myself. Even though I was always a consummate professional in any job I’ve had, however for some reason I wanted to blend in and proceeded to speak like the 2 other black people who were on set and clearly used a different type of voice, posture, and mannerism than I was accustomed to seeing. I was fucking disgusted at myself for laughing differently than I normally would have, using hand gestures and vocal inflections I’ve never used in my life. After we came back from lunch I decided to use my real voice, laugh, and jokes, which of course my white/Jewish people were not necessarily as well receiving of (surprise!). Eventually near the end of the day, I was approached by Loretta Devine and she shared some light conversation with me and left me with a gem: just be yourself and you’ll be fine. That shook me up because I was left wondering why did I feel the need to switch up to make white people comfortable? I watched these muthafuckaz play offense all day on set! Networking, building relationships, and learning all while being themselves. We are born playing defense and having to make others comfortable no matter if we are born into wealth and opportunity, or if you have to build your way up from the bottom. After that day I sat with my experience for a week and made the most important business decision of my life, which was no matter what doors I walked thru, I was going to be myself without compromise. It’s not my job or any of “our” jobs to make “them” comfortable. If I am not in a certain room because I make someone uncomfortable with my being, then they don’t deserve me. I will end this question by saying that by being myself and playing offense, life has been great!

    2) No. I have not ever worn a mask in front of my own people but I see it all the time and I hate it. Black people have to learn to love ALL that we are and stop the self hatred. If only for a moment, notice how the others come and try to be us more than us……think about it

    3) Yes. That day is today! There is no reason to wear a mask. You can be successful and still be accepted. Don’t wear a mask just to taste a modicum of what you perceive as success when the ones you are trying to impress could give a fuck about you. As hard as life can be, don’t let anyone make you ashamed of who you are….play offense!

  5. 1. Have you ever worn the mask and if so where and why?
    I have never worn the mask. Although in many career field the mask is needed. I truly believe many people of color must wear the mask in certain industries and jobs, simply to survive, remain employed, or attempt to overcome or disregard negative stereotypes. It’s been shared by a lot of older Black people, they’ve donned their mask to escape experiencing the weight of being “hated, detested, and despised” by white society. I guess you have to do what you have to when you need to…..

    2. Do we only where the mask when in the company of other races?
    I believe the answer is a 50% yes and 50% no. Some people of color may believe deep involvement in white society makes them more popular or allows them to fit into a “so called” higher social arenas. Oh the other hand, other black folks simply stand on the opposite side of the street and will never mask-up.

    3. Will there ever come a day when the mask won’t be necessary?
    No matter what circumstance or environment one finds themselves, hopefully a mask is not required. Many believe, myself included, if you dislike a fundamental part of yourself, you may be haunted by self-hatred, and if so, may also feel confused about who they are. Don’t be confused about yourself, know your self-worth, and don’t wear a mask unless you find yourself in a life or death situation.

  6. 1. Have you ever worn the mask and if so where and why?
    Yes I have worn the mask in the work place. I believe corporate America promote and in someways demand it. I don’t feel it’s about self haterd as much as it’s about surviving in an environment that most black people want to feel accepted respected and equal in. Consciously you know it’s not realistic but in order to function among other nationalities and personalities sometimes it’s necessary to portray cohesiveness. I don’t think we hate ourselves I think it just make it easier to exist among others. It’s easier to blend in than stand out. In most situation you are faced with working among many different nationalities and personalities, and in order to get along and progress you learn to wear a mask, appearing angry or aggressive and you’re labeled as hostel and difficult. For those who wear it because of self shame or wanting to be something the’re not or could never be it’s sad. But self pride start with acceptance of self. You have to love who God made you to be. We each wear it for different reasons. Sometimes it’s just about self preservation in the work place. We keep silent we smile we play nice with others, and we appear cooperative. Then we go home and explode. Only to repeat the routine each day.

    2. Do you only wear the mask in the company of other races?
    No we don’t just wear the mask in the presence of other races. Its worn mostly for other races, but sometime among ourselves. I believe others perception of us good or bad determine what mask we wear. Labels matter, and it’s important to be seen in a positive light, even among our own people. We want to be seen as intelligent, kind, friendly, positive, open minded. Labels follow you in the work place, social settings, and society.

    3. Will there ever come a day when the mask won’t be necessary?
    I hope it will . I don’t feel it’s about self hating. Some blacks and brown people try to adapt to European expectations by straightening their hair, wearing wigs and weaves to blend in. Some environments encourage it, by restricting or not hiring blacks with certain hair styles like braids, locs, hair wraps. I believe the only way we will ever be able to never have to wear the mask is to create our own Wall Street, promote and support our own businesses. When we were segregated we thrived as a people and it’s time for us to work together to achieve this again by having our own and hiring our own. We need to Teach our children to thrive to become entrepreneurs not employees. Love ourselves for who we are. Teach our children self pride. Teach about our culture, encourage them to be open minded. Own our own, Until we as a people can come together and pull each other up we will continue to wear mask.

  7. Have you ever worn the mask and if so where and why?

    It’s funny that this question is asked because I recently had an interview where before hand I felt I had to shave my beard off to make me look less “intimidating.” And if code switching is included in this umbrella of mask then most definitely. Often times the mask is worn around other non black people. Because of my fit build, bald head and beard, I often get those tugging of purses in the elevator, those faster steps if I’m walking behind someone, or those surprised looks when people find out I’m actually one of the folks in management. But outside of the workplace I am my authentic self, and just a note I decided to keep the beard for my interview.

    2. Do we only where the mask when in the company of other races?

    I feel so. I believe social stigmas and stereotypes often times are in the forefront of our minds. We are made to be aware of these and therefore we are more prone to wearing these mask in front of other races. It’s almost like the Obama comedy skit where he hand shakes and speaks in a professional manner to all the white people and culturally embraces all the black people.

    3. Will there ever come a day when the mask won’t be necessary?

    “America” is not ready for all that. And secretly I like keeping our culture, the way we talk the way we interact to ourselves.

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