Avoid. Accommodate. Compromise. Repeat.
In their renowned text The Managerial Grid, Blake and Mouton describe 5 methods of coping with conflict: Collaborating, Competing, Accommodating, Avoiding and Compromising. Given racist stereotypes about Black people being violent, angry, and overly emotional – do African Americans choose too frequently to accommodate, avoid, and compromise to fit in? What are the consequences to their mental and physical health as a result?
Black people are often stereotyped as being angry, combative, and violent. Black woman are usually charged with being angry and overly emotional, while Black men are usually perceived as being violent and physical. “It’s not a stereotype, it’s true.” The thought creep ups as another Black man is arrested, or another brawl breaks out between two Black women (and subsequently ends up on worldstarhiphop.com).
To really make it in today’s society, Black people are often forced to accommodate, avoid, and compromise their way through life. As I grew up, I was reminded on a constant basis that certain things are always going to happen to Black people and that’s just the way it is. In all areas of my life, I would have to accommodate. I would have to avoid. I would have to compromise. Because, no one likes an angry Black woman.
So, I guess I just need to avoid sexual harassment as I walk down the street in my predominately Black neighborhood.
I guess I just need to accommodate the old white man in Union Square that bumps into me and snarls.
I guess I just need to compromise and accept that it’s normal for there to only be one Black person in a senior management role at work.
And I guess my boyfriend needs to stop being so angry at the policemen who arrested him after he was the one who was mugged with a knife pressed up against his throat.
I’ve avoided, accommodated, and compromised myself into a warped state of mind. The things my mother said would happen are happening. Some of the things I thought I would never accept, I have accepted. The things that make an angry Black woman so angry surround me. I’m a little touchier, with a dash of attitude, and I’m relentlessly skeptical of everyone. I see how mentally draining and physically stressing this is on my Black and Caribbean friends and family who avoid, accommodate, and compromise every day. It ends up wearing us down as we go through life.
I’m not sure how my older friends and family have done it for so long, but as for myself, I know that I can’t compromise my way. I’m done with that. Too often are African Americans are stereotyped as the angry Black person, when in reality, many of us are just trying to get our voices heard against the racial, socially accepted injustices that we live with on day-to-day basis.
By Danielle Palmer