The Color Issue

By Lauren Wilder

I’m a little nervous about this installment mainly because one isn’t suppose to expose certain things i.e. work which sometimes brings trouble later on.  However,  I have to say something, beat it into the ground, and most importantly vent.

This should be safe since my issue isn’t on the behalf of my employer, but the customers  I serve.  Many cities  have their  characteristics they are known for like New York their fast pace in everything, Washington, D.C., their politics, Los Angeles  where people go to be movie stars, and the list goes on.   Let’s get to Chicago which is known for being windy and bitterly cold, crooked politics, and fabulous restaurants.

What I found out as a newbie to the city that though this is a neighborly city, it is also a very prejudice one.  For those who are familiar with the layout know that white people stay north, black people in the south, and Latinos are west.  When I used to ride a CTA train, the Red Line which runs north to south, I could see the change in ethnicities while heading home.  After hitting the White Sox Stadium stop the train was all black people and sometimes a few minorities.

This seemed a bit disturbing at first because it felt like an old world that I know nothing about.  Oddly it made sense that sometimes people like to stay where they’re most familiar and a lot of the time it’s around people they know.

In downtown there’s a mixture of people which consists of your downtown workers, artsy college students, panhandlers, street performers,  tourists, and older well off individuals.  I deal mainly with the last group and every now and then a tourist.

In many conversations with people who have lived in Chicago have told me about some instances of blatant prejudice.  I didn’t believe it, not my beloved Chicago.  It wasn’t too long after that I began to notice things, but brushed it off.  For example, I notice how customers chose from whom they wanted assistance and they weren’t choosing me.  At first I thought ‘no big deal’  it happens.  As time wore on and I got to know the people who lived in the Gold Coast, a ritzy part of downtown, it became more evident.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve greeted a customer and get the look of death as if I ran over their dog.  Right now you could be thinking ‘oh they’re just snobbish,’ it’s a little more than that.  Usually another coworker greets the customer and they are met with a smile from ear-to-ear. I’ll go ahead and say that I’m the only black woman who works in the company, it’s fairly small, and have become accustomed to it.

If you’re not buying that one well here’s a good one.   I was standing up front with my coworker and two older women came in, as usual I greet them with a smile and a warm welcome.   So, both women gave me the who-are-you look and turned to my coworker and said hello.  They asked a question and I answered, but they looked at my coworker for an answer.

Next is a one-on-one scenario.  I was helping a customer who needed a professional yet casual dress for a business trip.  I noticed immediately she had a certain air about her for one,  she wouldn’t look at me when talking and also her head was tilted so far back she could probably tell me how many squares were in the ceiling.  Of course she had questions about our products and as I began to answer she walked away to ask someone else…that happened 3 times.

Right now I’m working on moving up fulltime (part-time isn’t going to fly anymore), but I keep asking myself, ‘is it worth it?’  Sure, there are other factors that make me ask this, but I have to say my treatment is really turning me off.  I could build a thicker skin, but I really don’t like the idea of being treated as someone less.  As a black person, I deal with things that make me work harder, dress better, speak quite formally just so I won’t get dismissed like I’m an inferior.

Chicago has shown it’s ugly side and I’m already asking for long-term purposes, ‘should I try to make it here?’

The P3 Group now offers over 300 online courses to help advance your professional career for free.


Click here to visit the P3 Online Learning Center and start learning today!


Do you want access to more Power, Passion & Profit? Click here to visit the P3 LifeLine!

Visit the P3 LifeLine!

Are you looking for Life Coaching for Women? Contact the P3 Group for a P3 Power Session! Click to continue...

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.