Sister Zora told us. Black women are the mules of the world. Somehow the hardest, most thankless work lands in our laps every time. But it’s not a mystery. It is the legacy of white supremacist patriarchy that keeps us writhing underneath the burden of carrying a people that hate us, on our backs and in our minds. When the hard work is on the table, it’s conveniently catapulted into our hands to decipher and execute. The mules of the world would like a word with you in the aftermath of what is currently being praised as heroine. I, too, am Stacey.
Temporary Heroines, Long-Term Mules of the World
How many of us carried organizations and departments on our back without the title or even the pay? How many of us took on the extra, unpaid, barely acknowledged work, with the “greater good” leading the way? Are we not mf tired?? I’m sure this post has been written 100 times over. But I was overwhelmed with the need to throw my thoughts into the ring.
I was absolutely triggered to see white women, yet again, run to the podium to endorse a Boack woman as the Savior of their Iives. Georgia made history on Tuesday, January 6, 2021. And what white women saw was “the magical negroes have saved us again”. The moment is not even over yet and here goes “sign that woman up for more shit”. Stacey had an election taken from her, stuck her neck out (said too much) and was overlooked for VP and STILL, clocked in for the people. The idea that she may require rest wasn’t even entertained.
I, Too, Am Stacey
I’ve spent years of my young life wearing my “mule of the world” hat in the white liberal workplace. Sucked in by the “passion” for helping that non profit industrial complex perverts to oppress its workers. The better I did at the unfair odds I was given, the more I had to do them. My first full-time salaried job was me filling in blanks for an under qualified leader. The one that was picked over a fellow mule because they were, *tongue in cheek* more fun to be around.
My long term reward for writing a grant, alone, through a power outage was to be dubbed the lead/sole writer for all grants to come. I remember graciously editing a
POORLY written grant draft they wanted me to take a look at. I spent over an hour editing, annotating, asking clarifying questions and pointing out where the requirements were not met in the narrative. Handed them the document only to have them push it back to me and say “you fix it”.
I made half their salary. HALF their salary to be the development team, the communications & marketing department, the program management team, manage direct reports, both create and maintain the internal systems, take on speaking and training engagements they said yes to before consulting me, AND make sure people got paid.
All while they of course took most of the credit, flapping gums for clout and extra paid opportunities. And that grant I had to fix? Due in 3.5 days with no adjustment to my regular work responsibilities.
Enough is Enough
I submitted my resignation on my sick bed, about a week out of surgery. One thing about the mules of the world, we’re required to also smile and perform enjoyment while our backs break. My resignation was being sent several weeks after requesting the following accommodations:
- Noise cancelling headset (chill with the open office concept!)
- Written directives
- Two permanent work from home days per week
Suddenly this had to be forwarded through the “proper channels” so basically, radio silence. The irony of the lack of action for the last request is not lost on me. The feeling of shackles dropping from my spirit and utter joy that washed over my ailing body is one that was yet to be duplicated.
I pray that many of us will have the means to release ourselves from thankless mule work. That we can run away from oppressive “progressives” who do not have our freedom and health in mind. The ones who cry about white supremacy at work and dine with white supremacy in their homes. Release us.
I Speak for:
One of my favorite Black women PhDs whose departed from my alma mater, jaded from being refused tenure. A departure I mourned in tears. Who was deeply committed to having us engage and create knowledge.
My former BW coworkers who invested years and tears into an organization refusing to give them the resources to meet expected benchmarks. Benchmarks that dictated a raise (or not) and promotion (or not).
All my sisters who mute the mic and turn off the Zoom video after being talked over or otherwise dismissed in yet another team meeting.
The silence and undermining I have been met with once it was no longer fun to have me be good at my job and require accountability.
All the mules of the world who wake up and opt not to choose violence. And also the ones that do.
From all of us and for all the pain and embarrassment we’ve endured by selectively public celebrations and privately damning opportunists: We know the real you.