The Black Walk
I code-switch a lot at work. I switch it up so much that I some times I forget to turn off the facade when I leave the office. Black men are often perceived as overly aggressive. It’s a perception that has been spread relentlessly throughout history. I guess everyone just ignores the vicious, virulent and violent acts of other demographics (e.g. the domestic terrorism, barbarous imperialism and government-sanctioned crime associated with White people). So when I’m at the office, I gotta tone down natural behaviors that may seem aggressive. Like my walk.
Yesterday I went to work early to catch up on a project. When I got to the office, I knew that no one would be there at the crack of dawn. So I got into the elevator with my headphone on maximum, rapping lyrics out loud (like a troll). I got off the elevator and started walking down the hallway. As I walked, I looked down at my phone to change the song, not realizing that Katherine was watching me from down the hall. I looked up and saw her face. She had a look of genuine concern.
“Oh my god Kai! Are you okay? You look so angry.”
Damn. She caught me doing my natural walk. You know, augmented shoulder movement and a tiny hint of a limp. The Black Walk. But she caught it when I was listening to The Clipse. And if you’re not already aware, a Black man’s walk can be severely altered by the presence of rap music. So even though I felt relaxed and at ease, Katherine saw an angry Black man walking down the hall. I might as well have been Kimbo Slice.
This is one of the many reasons I code-switch. When I worked at a Black office, my boss rocked a serious Black-walk every morning when he entered building. Then he would blast Nas’ Ether instrumental from his computer. Things are a little different for me now. If White people think I’m angry, it hinders proper communication and interaction. I can’t be having that shit at work. So I told Katherine that nothing was wrong, kept it moving and turned the code-switch on.
I guess she still thought I was angry, because she didn’t bother me for the entire day (quite a rarity). So I suppose if you want your White coworkers to leave you alone, rock the Black-walk.