The Fragility of the White Male Ego and What that Meant for my Seat at the Table

By Raven Young

I was recently promoted to a great position, which as a black woman in my company, is an amazing opportunity for my growth and development. I should’ve been ecstatic, celebrating, and overall just a happy bundle of melanin joy…right?

Insert my coworker…we’ll call him “Blake” to protect his identity and fragile ego. My boss decided to have a conversation with him about my promotion before publicly announcing it to the staff. First, a bit of a background about Blake and I’s work relationship: we both were hired within a month of each other for the same position. Fast forward through the last three years- not to brag, but I have excelled at everything this company threw at me. Not only did I excel, but I made meaningful and impactful changes to the culture, and that is what I am most proud of. Blake struggled and is struggling to become a leader. Don’t get me wrong, out of the kindness of my heart, I tried for the last three years to take Blake from managing nag to a leader others would respond to and respect. Blake chose to stay stagnant, never learning or growing from coaching conversations and creating tension between himself and our staff. In his mind, he had all the answers and was never wrong (if you’ve ever worked with white men, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about).

Fast forward to the part where my boss had the conversation with Blake about my promotion. He was ANGRY. He was shocked and appalled that he had been passed over for the promotion and was given to me. Here’s where the fragility of the white male ego comes into play: Blake believed that him doing the bare minimum, such as “never being late or calling out,” made him a suitable candidate for my current situation. And here was the kicker for me—Blake asked my boss, “Well did Raven get it because she asked for it?” I had to laugh because that’s how THEIR world works. White men think they are owed things just because they do the bare minimum. And to me, that’s insane because Daddy Pope’s voice, along with my own dad’s, is always in my head “You have to be twice as good to get half of what they want.” I have always exceeded expectations only to be passed over, and the first time I get something I’m deserving of, this white man who has never lifted a finger to work hard tries to snatch the joy of the situation. I had to take a step back before reacting emotionally to Blake’s anger and outrage. I willed myself to understand that I deserved all of the recognition for my hard work. I had more than earned my seat at the table. And Blake, or any other person for that matter, would ever make me doubt that again.

Raven Young is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project LLC. Raven is a spiritually driven individual navigating corporate America. Follow her journey and connect on Instagram @raebeyy

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