There are moments in any African-American professionals life where they are forced to attend events and interact with a class of persons that are morally repulsive and therefore beneath them. Unfortunately for those African-Americans forced to enter such situations, decorum and professional expectations often mute our disgust for the event and the major players involved.
The above situation forces one to make a critical decision, do you follow your heart and the heartfelt advice of Malcolm X to “tell that man just how you feel” or do you preserve your professional credibility and literally ‘eat shit and grin.’
Michelle Obama has once again reminded Black America of a familiar tactic that anyone caught in a situation where decorum prevents them from speaking their mind could use. I simply call it “the look.”
Make no mistake about it, it is not happenstance that it was Michelle Obama who shot ‘the look,’ a subtle sign of disapproval that conveys a clear disapproval, yet is subtle enough that it offers a thin veil of plausible deniability. I am confident that if a patent search were conducted, we would find that someone black woman long ago, possibly a peer of Madame C.J. Walker, licensed ‘the look.’
So the next time that you find yourself within an uncomfortable professional setting drum up the spirit of all of those black women who have used ‘the look’ to display utter disgust for those around them. What am I saying?
African-American women don’t need to be told to do that; it is a standard part of the toolkit that they use to navigate a hostile world on a daily basis.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017