Last week, an archived episode of Power105’s The Breakfast Club interview with reality-tv star Amara La Negra popped up on my timeline. I wasn’t familiar with La Negra’s brand on the Love and Hip Hop series, but her hair caught my attention so I clicked to listen.
The portion of the interview that played was of La Negra, tirelessly, explaining to the male hosts, DJ Envy and Charlamagne the God about the struggles of breaking into the music industry because of her ethnicity. She correctly characterized herself as Afro-Latina.
As La Negra spoke, they either talked over her or called her “crazy.”
Watching this brought me back to my, almost, weekly struggles at work and speaking to men and sometimes women when I have a valid point.
For more than a decade, I’ve engulfed myself in the art of journalism as my career choice. Yes, journalism is an art.
One element is getting strangers to talk to you and craft their words into a story other strangers want to read about.
Within this field, there are journalists or the fourth estate who are dedicated to particular topics, also known as “a beat.”
I’m a criminal justice reporter which focuses on courts.
A chunk of my position entails explaining to laypeople what rights journalists have to receive public information. You’d think when the government hires their employees that a section of the job description would be: what is public record?
At least three times a month, I find myself reciting the same song about the public’s right to know about (fill in the blank) and why (fill in the blank) is public record.
Each time, I repeat my position to a man or woman, he or she finds a moment to interrupt by pushing out both hands (palms down) and say, “okay, calm down” when my voice has not risen an octave nor has my neck rolled in a stereotypical way.
Every time the words “okay, calm down” are blurted as I’m stating my case, it infuriates me.
The person on the receiving end of the facts, I believe, simply cannot handle or respect that I know my rights.
I’ve been told this by others employees, lawyers and colleagues who’ve heard me make this speech to various laypersons over the years.
There’s times where I would recommend a male colleague to state my case for me and he would get the information quickly, no questions asked.
It’s utterly ridiculous.
As a woman, a black woman, why do men and women alike feel intimidated or threatened by our voice?