Oh Tom and Sadie, smh..... Honestly I personally detest using these terms for the sole reason that I'm smart enough to know the Tom(s) and Sadie(s) did what they had to do to sustain their sanity. However, for the purpose of this article I need to somehow identify my characters so Tom and Sadie it is!
Being black in Corporate America, I'm purposely omitting the term "people of color", not all of those of "color" experience what black person(s) experience. Our presence in corporate consists of defense, overly intelligent, hard working, the teflon approach (we take a lot of crap and just have to shake it off half the time), and a strong sense of teamwork. The one thing that some of us have mastered and some of us just can't seem to wrap our heads around is the "kissing up" technique.
Being a black/hispanic woman I have enough on my plate. I can commit to working hard, doing more, ignore stupidity even deal with the Prozac population. But the one thing I can not and will not do is kiss up! For those of you who are confused with kissing up vs teamwork, let me give you a couple examples.
1) The boss tells a stupid joke, it's not even funny in any manner. Kiss up Tom will crack up like he's at a Chris Rock concert. Non-kisser person may give a little smile, this smile is only meant to acknowledge regarding the attempt of being funny.
2) Your boss informs the staff there is no more office space and we all have to sit in the hallway until something becomes available. Sweet Sadie responds "oh that's cool we can greet everyone who's coming in" mind you we are NOT receptionists. Non-kisser will oppose being subjected to being placed in a demeaning location, will argue the violation of respected privacy and will challenge management to seek alternatives.
As you can clearly see there's a stark difference between Tom and Sadie vs Non-kisser. The problem with this situation and it's a sad one, is unfortunately for us Tom and Sadie look like us and presents a cosmetic notion that we should all act the same. In the true form of the way God made us, no two people are alike; regrettably for Mr./Ms. Boss they so wish we were! Because the wish is so intent and will not be granted for everyone, the Non-kisser appears to be confrontational, adversarial, and difficult to work with. Hence affecting positive performance reviews, promotions and a huge like-ability reduction. All of this because Non-kisser refuses to suck up!
It's a shame that in today's world there is still the expectation that we need to kiss up to get ahead. It's not about our education, our commitments or contributions, rather how much and how good can I kiss up to you. Personally my job is not make anyone feel good, yes I am a strong proponent of all well balanced friendly work environment; however, I am equally passionate about rewarding based on productivity and meaningful contribution. I have witnessed many passovers and layoffs of extremely intelligent individuals who did not practice laughing at every joke, who refused to be demeaned for any reason. I truly hope one day, Mr./Ms. Boss whether white or black get over the you have to make me feel good, save that shit for your Man or Woman. We are not here to provide that service. It's almost reminiscent of slavery when anything Massa did, for example, if he laughed you laughed even if he called you a Stinky Monkey who ate Shit! My advice to the Tom(s) and Sadie(s) the next time you compromise yourself remember a few things 1) you have to keep it up and that in itself is more detrimental than eating poison and 2) the more you do it the more you set us all back! How can we move ahead when we still have to coon! In the words of Dave Chappelle (paraphrasing), "you'll get tired of the cooning".
To the rest of us who not only battle the daily wars of Corporate America but have to deal with our "sistahs/brothas" as a challenge, all I can say is keep doing you. Do not compromise your values, ethics and inner morals. Think of your ancestors and how far we've come that we demand to be respected and not faulted cause we don't grease the lips and kiss up! One day our descendants will put an end to this, but it starts with us. Black people chill, know your worth and exercise the value that comes with it!