Get Out; What Does the “Sunken Place” Have to do With my Work Environment?

By now I am pretty sure all the folks that planned on seeing the movie “Get Out” saw it, and the rest heard enough to form several opinions and assumptions about the countless lessons and harsh realities that the uber successful film delivered.

For those that have absolutely no clue what I am even talking about I will provide a brief explanation.

 The movie “Get Out” was about an interracial couple going home to the (white) girlfriends parents house for the (black) boyfriend to meet the parents and entire family. While visiting the girlfriends parents, the boyfriend learned that black people were lured to the house by his girlfriend to be auctioned off for whatever part of their body a family member wanted. In order for the black peoples bodies to be completely taken over, the girlfriends mother hypnotized each victim putting them in a “sunken place” by stirring tea in a teacup with a spoon. The “sunken place” placed the black victims in a state of mental purgatory where they stayed conscious enough to witness what was happening to them, but not conscious enough to physically be able to do anything about it.

The last sentence brings me to the point of this post. While sitting in the movie theater, I realized that the “sunken place” was a very real place that I have experienced almost everyday of my life. 

I work in one of the most educated and heavily gentrified (DC used to be one of the countries “chocolate cities” that boasted an 80-88% black population in years past)cities in the United States, where most of the homeless folks who also happen to suffer from mental illnesses  are people of color, the new transplants moving into the new astronomically priced developments are not, and CVS stores, trendy restaurants, and Starbucks seem to be replacing all the old buildings and businesses that had culture, black culture to be exact.

During all of this gentrification, I cannot help but observe the dampening of black folks spirit and an obvious journey to “the sunken place”.  The scariest part of all of this is realizing how often I voluntarily have to put myself in the “sunken place” in order to keep my job and pay my bills! I deal with racism every single solitary day whether it be overt or via micro aggressions, and most times I stir the tea cup mentally myself! 

I am well aware that I work in the service industry where I am considered the help. I am also aware that most folks because of what I do assume that I am uneducated and not necessarily well read or well versed on current events or world affairs. Combine that with me being African American and a woman, and it is the perfect recipe for me to voluntarily put myself in the “sunken place”. 

I have to help customers after they snap their fingers at me rushing me to help them with brands I don’t work for, I have to constantly show clients where the trash bins are when they hold out their snotty tissues for me to take and throw away, I have to sometimes bite my tongue so hard it bleeds when they attempt to tell me they aren’t racist because they grew up with an interracial couple down the street from them, I have to even listen to folks tell me they wish they had my skin color so that they didn’t have to spend so much money on self tanners (we all know that if the option to trade in pale skin and the  privilege it brings for permanently tan skin was on the table, folks would just stay pale), I always have to play the “guess how old I am” game even though it has been scientifically proven that black people typically age 10 years slower than whites, and that melanin protects our skin from age spots, premature wrinkles, etc…Point being if I truly threw out a number, the people asking me to play the game would be pissed! 

Sitting in the movie Get Out made me super conscious of the fact that I and many other black folks and people of color for that matter live in a sunken place where we do not have complete control of our minds, bodies, or spirits especially in the work place. I realized also why many people of color including myself aspire to be entrepreneurs. Life is really short, and I pray that most of my life is spent living out loud rather than living in a place that is sunken! To all of my fellow entrepreneurs I say keep fighting the good fight, because dumbing down and pretending to be less than we are for other peoples comfort is straight bullsh$t!!

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