“They” should all be like you.

Shelagh-circa-1952-53Shelagh Mullings,
Coral Springs, FL

A white supervisor said this to me in 1965 when I was the lone “Negro” working in a white collar job for a large international corporation in San Francisco. I am a naturalized American with light skin (yellow) who was born in Jamaica, BWI. I was well-spoken, quiet (shy), and, most of all, made no waves. I did not take this as a compliment and only wish I had the courage at that time to tell her she had just insulted me and a whole race of individuals!

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2 Responses to "“They” should all be like you."
  1. Erica says:

    Gorgeous vintage photograph!

  2. Alessa says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, and don’t worry about not being able to speak up back then. It’s not your obligation to educate anyone in regards to racism and you were doing what you had to in order to keep a job and make a living. Saying something to your white supervisor would most likely have resulted in negative consequences for you and no change in attitude/behavior from her.
    After all, in her mind she was complementing you! And the mere fact that she was willing to work with someone who isn’t white would be evidence enough to her small mind that she’s not racist. It’s the equivalent of “I can’t be racist my best friend/ significant other/ favorite actor/ personal trainer/ etc is black!” Unfortunately, its a lose/lose situation.

    Best wishes. (PS: You’re picture is so gorgeous!)

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