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A Day in the Life of the Mental Load of One Woman of Color

A Day in the Life of the Mental Load of One Woman of ColorI am a Human Resources analyst with a local county government, so a day in my life is spent in meetings or in front of a computer. While my department is fairly diverse in most units, unsurprisingly this is limit to internally facing work. My work is not directly related to race equity, but is influenced by it, and always in my mind. As a Woman of Color, race equity is a part of everything that I do.

A Day in the Life of One Woman of Color

{Early Morning}

5 a.m. – Check FB while brushing teeth. An acquaintance posted a meme about solving world hunger by planting a garden in their yard instead of grass. I can’t resist posting a comment. “If one actually considers the socioeconomic differences between those who have land to plant a garden and those who are actually starving, I don’t think this is the answer we are looking for. But your intention is noted.” And so it begins.

6:30 a.m. – Arrive at work. Open my email, and see an article from Harvard Business Review regarding degree requirements in the workplace. This article touches on exactly what I spend a significant amount of time working on. I compose a few follow-up questions for an upcoming meeting. I’m concerned about how some analysts are handling department requests to screen applicants for degrees, even though they have been removed from Minimum Qualifications (MQs). Antiquated ideas about professionalism and educational preferences have a detrimental effect on diverse applicant pools, but are hard to overcome.

7 a.m. – Start working on revising a classification specification to broaden MQs for wider applicant pools.

8 a.m. – Compose follow-up email to a department manager in charge of a pipeline for new employees. This is in response to my previous follow-up email sent after several ignored phone calls. My task is to offer solutions to increase the diversity of their applicant pool. The department has a history of difficulty in hiring and retaining employees, both people of color and women. But it’s been an uphill battle to get him to give me the information I need. He even stated that while he wants help to increase the applicant pool, he has no desire to focus on diversity. Typical.

{Mid-Morning and Lunch}

10 a.m. – Meeting with analysts from several units in HR. Discussion ensues about whether we should continue accepting paper applications when we have just upgraded our Applicant Tracking System to a mobile-friendly platform. Not everyone has access to a computer, a phone line, or email. Refusing to accept another form of application may have unintended consequences for a specific segment of the population. For many people, this is a revelation. For me, this is one of the many things that I have to constantly be aware of, to ensure equal access to opportunities for everyone.

12 p.m. – Lunchtime walk around the lagoon with some friends. While we occasionally vent about work, family, and child stress, we can also fill those 45 minutes with mindless chatter with ease.

12:45 p.m. – Heating up my lunch from home (roasted squash, broccoli and carrots, brown rice, and chicken sauteed with sweet chili sauce). Reading on my Kindle app for 15 minutes while I eat allows some ‘me’ time during the day. Currently reading Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin.

{After Lunch}

1 p.m. – Meeting with a department about creating career ladders for their administrative legal staff. The current department head is the first person of color in that position. Ever. Equally striking is that the other five people in the meeting, besides him and me, are White.

3 p.m. – Reviewing Equal Employment Opportunity data for our next Equal Employment Advisory Committee meeting. While this is not the primary focus of my position, it is my passion, and I am lucky to be able to pursue it and integrate it into my work daily.

4:35 p.m. – Hop on the SMART train to head home. I sit across from the same young, Latino male many days. Folks seem to prefer to sit next to a stranger than across from him in an empty pair of seats. I shoot him a quick smile. Hopefully, some recognition of his humanity blunts the effects of folks’ daily unconscious biases.

{Evening}

5:30 p.m. – Arrive to pick my three daughters up from dance. My son is in the backseat singing a Happy Birthday/Jingle Bells mash-up. I chat with a few other dance moms and get suggestions on where to get “flesh-toned” tights for my daughter. The standard brand and color are too light for her skin and look incongruous on stage at competitions.

5:45 p.m. – Hubs made dinner tonight, so I get to relax and check-in with the kids when we arrive home. Our au pair has school tonight, but with a family this big the house is always noisy, even when people are gone.

6:30 p.m. – Putting dinner leftovers away and prepping lunches for the next day. My oldest is clearing off the table while my middle daughter is washing dishes. The younger two are running laps around the house while they break down the couch pillow fort and put away toys. Soon will be quick baths, pajamas, brushing teeth, books, hugs, prayers, and goodnight songs.

It’s a crazy life, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

A Day in the Life of the Mental Load of One Woman of Color

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