Working in corporate America there is always a code amongst us Black folks in the office to look out for one another. “Hey brotha watch ya back Bob was looking for you earlier.” Or “I’m headed to that chicken spot did you want me to bring you back a quarter piece and that mac and cheese you like?” But what I haven’t much had experienced with is trying to figure out how to tell another Black person in the office that they have ashy elbows.
A new Black person started working at my office a week ago, which can be exciting. We had gotten past the “figuring each other out” stage quick enough to even grab a drink after work on the third day of knowing each other. You know that stage I’m talking about when you first meet a Black person and need to first know their angle. The business suit and tie is just a costume, so contrary to what other kinds of folks think there are very different kinds of Black folks and we can’t all hang.son and need to first know their angle. The business suit and tie is just a disguise, so contrary to what other kinds of folks think there are very different kinds of Black folks and we can’t all hang.
There is the:
Sell out type
Too spiritual type
Not spiritual enough type
Jack and Jill type
The list goes on but this brotha was just cool. However, this one night we were working late with some of the white guys at the office and my man rolled up his shirt sleeves to reveal a couple of the most ashiest elbows I had even seen. It was so bad that one of the white boys let out a slight “yikes.” For the rest of the night I don’t think anyone could concentrate on anything except those elbows ass elbows. The next day one of the white boys says to me “Ohmigod how about that skin condition, eh.” I started to say, “That’s not-“ before stopping myself thinking, “Was I really about to explain “ash” to this white boy?”
All I know is I can’t be hanging out with no ashy brothas. This was a shame because he’s the only other Black guy in my office and we brothas do need to stick together. At the same time I feel like, what link of brotha doesn’t know to moisturize in the morning? What kind of Black guy is this guy? Am I making assumptions about his “Blackness” that I shouldn’t be? Should I not be judging him of the color of his ashy skin and still try to be friends? Maybe he does have a severe skin condition. Then again, that’s what Black people call “ash” and the remedy is usually a bottle of Jergens.
This is what happens when you are the only Black guy in the office, stuff like this consumes you in a desperate attempt to feel connected to somebody else dealing with the same cultural office politics.
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