Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"Purple Monkey"

Purple Monkey

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” you know even as a young child I knew that this saying was full of shit. It’s truly just something parents tell children to soothe them instead of stating “there are some children in this world who are as ignorant as their parents and I’m sorry you’re hurting because of it.” I mean isn’t that just a little more comforting? Unfortunately, I was teased a lot as a kid for my lighter complexion, wearing glasses and having a bigger than average size forehead. The damage kids do to each other is pretty damn extensive and could take years to recover from but that’s another blog post so I digress. {picture below: me at about 7 years old}

One of the first life lessons I learned many years ago was that conflict resolution actually doesn’t have to involve physical contact, of course this was after I left Detroit. It wasn’t easy embracing this concept due to not learning what to do with feeling “punked” if I allowed someone to say something disrespectful to me and did nothing then I was being “punked”. If it’s one thing black people don’t like is feeling like they’ve been disrespected and looking like a “punk” but again that’s another blog so I digress. Then what is this blog about? Well I was placed in quite the quandary about two week ago and it made me think of the opening quote, hurtful name calling and feeling like a “punk”.   

The Incident - During what resembled a mindfulness exercise the group I observe a colleague conduct were in the middle of doing a mental “grounding” exercise. The colleague stated “think of your favorite color” after a short pause he stated “think of your favorite animal”. A client broke the silence barrier by stating “oh I just thought of a monkey”. I thought it was odd he felt the need to share however overlooked the statement as just an outburst. The colleague then continued by stating “now think of your favorite color and favorite animal. Are they the same color?” The colleague took a slight paused then looked over in my direction, looked back and stated “Humph….I just looked at Latrice’s dress and thought “purple monkey”.  I froze internally as I tried processing what he just said….did he really just associate me with a “purple monkey”? I’m a black woman, he’s a white man why would he even think that would be appropriate to say in reference to anyone let alone to someone of African descent.  I retained my professional composure which helped me contain my emotions. I decided it would be best to address the situation instead of leaving the building with a lot of emotions brewing. I mentally took the time to calm myself so when I spoke I remain the professional Lady that I am and not the aggressive confrontational “set his ass straight” individual my anger was calling me to be.  After addressing my colleague about the incident, there wasn’t much resolve as a couple of his statements were condescending and he offered a meager apology. Granted I didn’t want him graveling on the floor begging for my forgiveness but a show of sincere remorse would have definitely defused the beast growing within. I probably should have referred him to my last blog on “disarming anger”.

The Aftermath - I experienced a few different emotions and did my best to process them all. I know that I can’t change what has happen but that hasn’t stopped me from wishing it didn’t happen. I’ve only shared what happen to those that are essential in the grievance and professional ethics process for my profession. I asked myself “did the words hurt, why did they hurt, were they true? The words were of course completely untrue but they hurt because someone took advantage of me in a vulnerable state by singling me out, embarrassing me and attempting to degrade who I am as a woman! I often wonder why anyone feels the need to hurt others by name calling it’s difficult for me to understand though because I don’t see how that could truly satisfy the insulting individual.

My Resolve – Thanks to my “thick skin” and excellent conflict resolution skills, I was satisfied with being able to swiftly addressing the individual respectfully, vent a little to my support system (My Guy & My Boss) and filing the appropriate paperwork gave me the power back he attempt to snatch away. I’m not here for any race baiting because in the end I know we all need each other essentially to make it! And besides there AINT a monkey alive that could look this damn good in a purple dress!!


  1. I absolutely love the woman you're becoming even so I see you and think if she can than I can too, so thank you for being a strong professional woman and giving me the courage to speak out on things instead of bottling them inside. Awesome are you!

    1. I have to say, so am I! :) I Love you for your support and encouragement!!