Why are Black Women Not Allowed to Be Introverted?

Because of stereotypes, we are shocked when we meet a Black introvert.

Amari Pollard from So-Called Oroes

The stereotype for a Black woman is that she is loud and ghetto. We imagine them to be the funny, extroverted, loud person in the office using the latest slang. We assume that all Black people should be extroverted, talk to us and make us laugh. And when they don’t we take offense or take it personal and punish them for not holding up to the stereotype.

This is seen early on in childhood. White peers will question why you aren’t loud or funny or why you “talk white.” Then in adulthood we see this play out in the workplace. We expect our Black coworkers to be fun, entertaining, share as much as their personal lives as we do. When they are more reserved we isolate them or question what is wrong with them.

The preconceptions of Black women who are quiet tend to be: stuck up, vapid, bitchy, rude.

At my first job, me and a white woman were hired to start the same day in the same role. I came into the job with more experience. I did not fit in because the company was mostly hipster white people who were known for partying with each other and sleeping with each other. I did not want to be a part of that and had clear boundaries from work and my personal life. In my review, my boss told me I was doing a great job on my assignments but that I should speak up more in social settings and that is how I would get a raise. I was confused because speaking up had nothing to do with the job I was hired to do so why should that determine if I should get a raise. The white woman I was hired with got the raise because she spoke up more simply because she fit in the work environment as a white person who engaged in after work activities. I was in charge of 12 websites while she was in charge of 2. She was not even doing half the work as me but got the promotion. Black women shouldn’t have to be extroverted to have a promotion. The same standards are not held for white and Asian women because of stereotypes. These women can be however introverted they want because that is just “how they are” but Black women are never extended the same grace.

These aspects of silence are also pushed in Black households. Often times growing up we hear, “don’t speak unless spoken too” and “children are to be seen not heard.” To be silent is to respect your elders and speaking up in any way is a sign of disrespect.

In this episode, we discuss what it is like being an introvert and how society’s expectations and stereotypes of Black women make it harder to be accepted as an introvert. The So-Called Oreos dive into how being raised in a common Black household has an effect on how we react in the workplace as well as how society and social media can make us believe that staying at home as an introvert is some how not normal.

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Sufficiently Black Podcast

Sufficiently Black Podcast

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Rebranded from So-Called Oreos, Sufficiently Black is a show that explores what it means to be comfortable in your Blackness.