Today we're featuring our second guest blogger....Inkognegro! I asked him to post about the biggest, baddest bitch who has ever influenced his life and I hope you enjoy part one of his story:
I am often asked how it is my understanding of women is so progressive. My usual wink-and-a-nod response is “Good Home Training” but the reality is much more complex. While my mother did represent a valuable role model for me to see the power of a strong woman, she isn’t the one that opened my eyes. That “lead by example” mode was easily counteracted by a patriarchal day-to-day life that dominated my formative years. My moment of clarity wasn’t courtesy of a teacher, family member, or church member. Ironically enough, my moment of clarity was courtesy of a woman who was supposed to be my subordinate.
The year was 1989, and I had just arrived in Hartford, CT for the first year of my college internship at a major insurance company. As a person who was completely new to any sense of Corporate America, who had never known a male family member to put on a suit and tie to go to work five days a week, I was a virgin in more ways than one. I had at least gone to a few workshops on how to dress for success and had been to church so much that wearing a suit and tie didn’t make me uncomfortable. But I was a boy who knew school and church. Occupying a lead cubicle (what the hell is a cubicle?) in a pod (What am I a pea now?) and having an administrative assistant (that I shared with my mentor, but still….WOW) was a culture shock that totally neutered any of the usual ego driven bravado I usually carried around with me. On that fateful May afternoon, I was a sheep being led to some kind of exotic slaughter. And there I sat in the conference room with all the other sheep waiting for our respective shepherds.
Clarice was a woman of uncommon grace. Some women are well schooled and trained in all the scholastic, cultural, and physical rigors of learning the savoir-faire that goes into being a woman of the ages. It was plain to see from the second Clarice called my name out of orientation that she was a natural in every sense. I looked up from my orientation handbook and locked eyes with a set of dark brown eyes that defied the glasses that aided them to diminish the degree to which they sparkled. I knew enough about Black women to know that if they looked 25 they could be almost forty so I didn’t even bother to guesstimate her age. I settled on the fact that she might be old enough to be my mother and was probably my boss and defaulted to the manner in which I treat elders.
I stood and humbly acknowledged her smooth southern twanged alto with a snap to attention and a strong but deferential “Yes ma’am”. The fact that I had no idea where I was going allowed me to walk a half step behind her and behold her walk, a walk that was equal parts Military General, Runway Model, and Gangster; a walk that evoked leadership in every possible facet. I had known Clarice for 3 minutes and I had already decided I would do whatever she said. And for the next 12 weeks, I did.