The Perils Of Professionalism and Diversity
Start writing a post
Student Life

The Perils Of Professionalism and Diversity

The truth is the workspace is not a safe space. It is another space where survival becomes the default mode for oppressed people.

1335
The Perils Of Professionalism and Diversity
startupstockphotos.com

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what “professionalism” is. This is a phenomenon that I have thought about in the past, but that hadn’t really affected me. I was fortunate and privileged enough to work jobs that are inclusive to a degree where I didn’t feel a need to censor myself — or at least censor myself to the point where I felt severely silenced. I knew I was lucky when I worked these jobs, but I didn’t realize how lucky until recently.

As I transition into different kinds of jobs that require more leadership out of me, I am coming to terms with the fact that professionalism is actually a white male-centric agenda. Again, I knew about this. The problem is that I knew about this intellectually and not in practice. So now that I am realizing how strenuous actually is, I have to reconcile it with the silencing I feel as a Muslim woman of color.

The problem with professionalism is that it alienates those who do not abide by the tacit rules it creates: poor people who do not have the access to the necessary clothing professionalism demands; woke people of color whose voices are silenced in the work space for the benefit of a “comfort” that makes it easier for others to digest their perspective; LGBTQ people whose presentation is deemed “unsuitable” for the workspace; hijabi Muslim women who are told that their veil or apparel is not in accordance with the dress code of a particular setting. These are just a few examples. All of them show how professionalism is just another way to silence and alienate those who are different— either because of their identities or their lifestyles.

This can be incredibly oppressive for some marginalized people. While some may find a way to tread the fine line of codeswitching, where they learn to give their bosses what they want while simultaneously maintaining a sense of self, for others the workspace becomes a dreaded space where a marginalized person has to further confront their oppression. As a result, one is given few choices: assimilate or be rejected. And when these jobs put food on the table and pay bills, what options does one really have?

A cycle of constant anxiety and stress is created. There are no safe spaces. Silence becomes the only option. And the irony of all of this is that we live in a time where diversity and pluralism are supposedly valued. If that is truly the case, then why are so many people silenced? Is diversity really the objective, or the affectation of it? Because in my experience, when I became “myself” as I was encouraged to be by my supervisors, this quickly became a problem and when these same supervisors called me into their offices, I was asked to find another way to say what I wanted to say. So is diversity really valued? Or simply the image of it?

The truth is the workspace is not a safe space. It is another space where survival becomes the default mode for oppressed people. If true inclusion is to be sought, then professionalism needs to be debunked, or at least accessed for its underlying white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal values. We must be willing to give those who are not well represented a space to be themselves as much as we would a straight white man. We must be willing to let people present themselves and to simply exist in the way that allows them to perform at their best.

After all, everyone can benefit from a genuine person. If certain voices are denied, that’s one more unique opinion that will not be contributed during staff meetings and conferences. Comfort for the privileged should not be the end goal; it should not even be seen as a concern when attempting to create a more inclusive working environment. If it is considered, then everything becomes a free for all--another opportunity to silence the marginalized.

We all lose when we police certain perspectives and when the workplace becomes another lie told to marginalized folks about their supposed progress when in reality, it is merely oppression taking on a new form. We must be willing to have a conversation about this stark truth so that all voices can be received with consideration. When we frame dialogue within the lens of a “proper discourse,” what we are really saying is that, if you have something to say outside of that propriety it’s not valid. We must find the courage to face these preconceived paradigms of presentation and behavior so that people can be their authentic selves—or at least as close as possible to them.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

There's More To A Relationship Than Netflix

Summertime is only 93 days of the year, Find something to do!

97
Tallie Ammar

Summertime is ideal for more than just hanging out and binging your favorite TV series with your friends. Although summer does bring rain and thunderstorms which is perfect for those binging days, take advantage of those nice and sunny days. There is so many opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy the season before the snow starts to come back. Here are 25 interesting dates that are doable almost anywhere for any age.

Keep Reading... Show less
Leilani Encarnacion

Philadelphia has its beauty, but some of you may have not been to some of the most beautiful hidden spots in the city. This summer is a chance for new adventures and exploring, so here are a few places that I highly recommend you should visit at least once.

Keep Reading... Show less

To my boyfriend's parents,

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

How Not To Go Insane During Summer

Holy cow. If you're like me, you are bored out of your mind taking summer classes all the way until August. Then just to come right back and take more classes for the Fall?

It is like I am going insane.

4197
Pexels
https://www.pexels.com/photo/sunglasses-sunset-summer-sand-46710/

I mean, I am taking rigorous classes which allow me to devote a lot of my time towards them, but still...it is only two classes. By the time I get done, I have a whole half of the day full of nothing. I end up just sitting on my phone for most of the day instead of doing something practical.

So here I have compiled a list of how to keep yourself from not going crazy!

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Week One of Being A Freshie Again

August rolls around, and school starts again...

3732
Week One of Being A Freshie Again
Dear Freshman Me,

Most of us officially embarked on the journey of college. Yay! more school, how great is that? (Sarcasm people) This past week has been my first week at this amazing university. I've been finding all of the neat little short cuts that save me 10 minutes to get to a class, or just allow me to de-stress a little when I feel over whelmed.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments