Lisa Beasley • January 28th, 2018
Recently, Jordan Peele’s social thriller, Get Out, was nominated for four Oscars making Jordan Peele the third filmmaker to receive Oscar nominations for directing, writing, and best picture for his feature directorial debut. Actor, Daniel Kaluuya also received his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Even though it’s been nearly one year since Get Out premiered in movie theaters, its influence on our culture and its social impact is still very apparent. When the Oscar nominations came out, I was very inspired to the explore the signs that your workplace may in fact, be The Sunken Place.
Whether your boss tells you that he would have voted for Obama for a third time if he could or if you’re noticing that everyone in your office is really, really into tea, here are the signs that it may be time to evaluate how you really feel about your work environment.
(1) That job recruiter REALLY, REALLY needed YOU to apply for this job.
While at a job fair, you notice a recruiter eagerly staring you down from across the room. Their eyes light up as you begin to make your way to introduce yourself. Turns out, her name is Rose and she tells you that you’d be a perfect candidate and exact fit for a company before she even looks at your resume.
(2) You have your doubts
Upon entering your new role as a junior level manager, something just doesn’t feel right. The vibes are hard to read and in some cases, weird. You can’t figure out exactly what it is so you decide to stay another day. Just like when Chris (played by Daniel Kalyuuya) walked onto the property of his girlfriend’s parents’ home. We all knew something wasn’t right and you even heard someone whisper in the back of the movie theater, “Nah, get outta there Chris,” but he stayed the night anyway.
(3) All eyes are on you. All of the time.
You could have sworn they said the free coffee in the breakroom is available for everyone. So why is that every time you walk into the breakroom, everybody falls silent and stares at you? Finally, after 10 seconds, they realize that they have been quiet for too long so everybody just tries to start talking to you at once.
(4) Everybody assumes you played sports in college
During your first conversation, your office mate, Chad, excitedly says, “Football! Yeah, THAT’S the sport you played in college bro. Look at you. I can just tell.” He’s so excited that you don’t want to crush his fantasy of your presumed past life. You’ve never touched a football in your life but will always entertain Chad with a game of catch with the invisible ball he likes to throw around during meetings. Finally one day you have to break it to Chad that you spent most of high school and college thoroughly invested in debate and foreign politics.
(5) You have to tune everything out to survive.
Much like Chris’s efforts to drown out the hypnotic messaging of his captors by stuffing cotton into his ears, you’re always quick to grab the nearest pair of headphones because the office chatter is unbearable to listen to. Like really, the world is falling apart and all they want to talk about are the different types of teas in the world. If you hear one more loose leaf vs. herbal tea bags debate, you might resign.
(6) People are always bringing up the “diversity hire” that took “their” job.
While it was obvious that Rose’s grandfather Walter (played by Marcus Henderson), never got over losing at the Olympics to Jesse Owens, hence, him using the body of a black man to run into the night, you never thought it could be possible for so many people to talk about the one diversity hire that “took their job.”
How 147 people think they could all get that 1 job blows your mind.
(7) An ex-employee tells you to leave the company…immediately.
You run into an old friend that used to work for the same company. You ask for advice on how to navigate this interesting, new experience and their response is:
(8) They are too eager to take photos of you.
Before you even begin training, oh they will make sure to update that employer database so fast and add your picture to the company website banner immediately. Your face is in brochures and campaigns for divisions of the company you don’t even work for. Tomorrow, you’ll be staring at your face on the side of a bus smiling really hard next to your employer’s logo.
(9) You’re often frozen in your tracks.
Some days, life feels so heavy and you’ve witnessed another public display of injustice being replayed on every news outlet in America. You go into work feeling hopeful that you can move forward with the day but as soon as you get there, someone says something like “They probably deserved it.” or “Trump is handling this very well.” However since you’ve cried all the tears out of your body the night before and you feel dead on the inside, you just stand there looking through all of your coworkers.
(10) Your boss ALWAYS introduces you to potential clients or business partners.
You often hear, “Hey buddy, get on in here. I want you to meet somebody.” Next thing you know you’re shaking hands with the CEO & President of Mega Billion Dollar Company, Incorporated.
(11) There’s just no saving Christina who exclusively goes by “Chrissy.”
You know, the black woman in the office that your eager manager introduced you to FIRST? You were relieved to see another person of color in the office. Remember the first time you turned to her for the classic “is this really happening” glance after your white boss raised a black power fist during his forced speech about MLK and all she did was smile in return and clap the hardest after the speech was over? When you know it’s time for YOU to GET OUT, everybody isn’t going to follow you out of the door.
(12) You feel like you’re sinking.
No matter how hard you work, you’re always underperforming and coming up short. You always feel underprepared and like you’re never given real feedback. Does it take you longer to finish a presentation than everybody else OR would it have been easier if the meeting notes were given to you in your first language? Is it that you’re always missing a deadline because you’re truly inadequate OR are you getting information later than everybody else because they finally realized they should have a “voice like yours” on the team? You’re completely overworked, stressed out, and there’s no one in the office who doesn’t want to touch your hair to talk to?
Yeah, your workplace needs work! Until corporations get serious about implementing diversity & inclusion training and committing to the road ahead of making workplaces truly inclusive, some employees will continue to dread going to work. No job is perfect but no one deserves to work in The Sunken Place. Hopefully, you have good friends in your corner to help you think up a master plan to shine in a place that doesn’t set you up for success or move on to the workplace of your dreams.