Written By Mesha G., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series
When do you know if its crabs in a bucket syndrome or glorified tokenism? A while back I read Gabrielle Union’s memoir, “We’re Going to Need More Wine” and she explained how as she was getting older and when another star came on the scene, she felt threatened. The realization of feelings occurred to her when she understood that she could be replaced. Just like her character, Mary Jane Paul in Being Mary Jane was intimidated by the star anchor, Rhonda. On screen, Mary Jane and Rhonda had it out for each other and it even spilled over through camera time. Just like the script, this is something that Gabrielle Union felt in real life with the new and upcoming star, but this time she was the Rhonda. And often, in the black community we feel like there can only be one…or possibly no one at all.
We see it all the time, we see people start small businesses and complain that they get more support from strangers than family and friends. We can agree that we’ve seen someone saying this on Facebook or IG. And the same goes for those who are going back to school, move to a different city, or have finally decided to begin a fitness journey… it’s haters all around, B! And it’s sad to say that I truly believe that some of it is unconscious and we’ve been socialized that as this is the way of life.
The crabs in a bucket mentality is a metaphor to describe human behavior and screams the ideal, that if I can’t have it (whatever it is) then neither can you. It’s such a hurtful place to live in life, trying to bring others down because you can’t either find your way out or are too jealous to lift and climb at the same time. Crabs in a bucket mentality also attest to people shutting you down because they never seen some bomb ass shit happened before; sometimes, other folks talk you down because they don’t have the confidence to do it themselves. Which brings me to my side point for a later post: have friends around you, who truly support you!
Tokenism is a topic all of its own that I can talk about for hours. When I reflect on my experience in my office, I am the only black woman — and the tokenism feels more like exploitation than praise. And not to discredit anyone that may be multi-racial or non-black people of color, it’s just not the same. The history that stands with black people wanting validation from whites or the basic demand of just wanting to be treated like a human lies deep and has shaped some people to be proud of being the only one. Still today, some black people find value in whiteness, emerging themselves in spaces where they are the only one and is congratulated for not being like the rest of black people has really been a point of praise.
Many of us in our workplaces scream about underrepresentation, when the goal was never to be proportionally represented in the first place. Having a few people of diverse backgrounds a part of the larger groups gives the appearance of equality but doesn’t truly stands for it. Considering how the system is set up, is underrepresentation perpetuating whiteness all by itself or is the system really set up to be that complex?
It makes me want to ask the question, if there’s more than one black woman (or person) who shares opportunity, why is this a threat?
– Mesha G., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series