The idea of bringing one’s authentic self to work has taken off in recent years. And while the sentiment may be well-intentioned, it lacks a degree of nuance. Some argue that no one, regardless of race, can or should truly bring their whole selves to work. And, though this may be true, the issue is far more complex for people of color.
Emma Bracy, 31, a media professional, believes that many workplaces become toxic and inhospitable to people of color because there is a near-constant expectation of keeping white colleagues and employers feeling comfortable. “I’m generally expected to present as articulate, sometimes I’m expected to be the ‘cool’ one, the one who can dance and knows about hip hop and has an opinion on why blackface isn’t cool,” Bracy told Refinery29. “Sometimes I’m expected to validate my non-Black colleague’s political opinions [and] make them feel like they’re being ‘good’ allies. But I’m almost always ‘supposed’ to be docile. To be safe.”