• Florentina Bernadette

No, we just hurt them the right way!

#BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd #AfricanAmerican #BlackBeauty #BlackIsBeauty #BlackIsPure

I greeted my teammates with a cheerful good morning. They usually work on an earlier shift or somehow manage to reach the office much before I do. I, on the other hand, most often sprint through the IT park with just about five minutes on the clock, praying to catch an empty elevator that would take me straight up to the 7th floor. I also give the folks at the front desk quite a laugh as I dash from the elevator, dancing to keep my balance on that slippery tiled floor.

Thankfully, that day I managed to ping-in before the phone ticked 9:00 am.

As I turned on my workstation and my inbox loaded itself, I prepared myself for the day’s work ahead of me – the meetings I had to attend and the deadlines I had to meet flashed on the forefront of my mind and I sighed. I opened a mail that read, ‘updated guidelines – important.’ There were about ten new guidelines listed in the mail with highlights in bold red over the most important ones.

Now this is what I do for a living – I provide alternative descriptive texts for images and photographs that appear in any e-document, be it a website or an e-book. This aids the visually impaired to get a gist of what the pictures are about and gives me a little satisfaction that I may be helping someone in some part of the world.

I scanned through list and the 7th guideline read in big bold red letters, ‘do not use words like black or coloured to refer to African-American people, rather you could just say that they belong to a different ethnic group or background.’

Through that day, I saw managers walk in and out instructing their teams and urgently asking them to correct their texts to suit this particular guideline. One of them remarked, ‘this would hurt them, we should always be polite with our words.’ I felt that stingy proud feeling on reckoning that I already practiced what this guideline insisted.

Weeks later, the world hash-tagged #BLACK #LIVES #MATTER.