80 : Respectability Politics (w/ Trill MBA)

Zach sits down with the host of the Trill MBA Show, Felicia Ann Rose Enuha, in this special crossover centered around respectability politics. They discuss the importance of encouraging folks to embrace their full selves, noting that only in being your most authentic self can you really be your best at work.

Check out the Trill MBA Show! Part 2 is on Apple!



Righteous Discontent on Amazon



Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and listen, we have a really special episode. We have a special–and I do mean special–co-host with us today. Please introduce yourself.

Felicia: What’s up, Living Corporate family? [record scratch]

Zach: [?].

Felicia: I can’t help it. This is Felicia Ann Rose Enuha, A.K.A. the truest MBA you will ever know, and I am the creator, executive producer, and host of the Trill MBA podcast, where my goal is to help you survive and thrive in Corporate America by giving you the truth and being as real as only I can be. So I am super excited to be here with you today, Zach, because I love Living Corporate. I love everything you guys stand for. I love the content you guys are putting out for the people, and so thank you for this opportunity to hang out with you and talk that talk today.

Zach: Nah. Definitely the privilege is ours, and we definitely love Trill MBA. You do great content. It was interesting, ’cause in our research trying to figure out, okay, who’s doing what it is that we’re trying to do, who’s out here really trying to have honest, courageous discussions about non-majority experiences in a–in a workplace, and Trill MBA was really, like, the only podcast that we saw that was really focused on that, and it’s interesting because we actually had a conversation, like, internally about even, like, progressing and, like, moving forward with the Living Corporate platform, because we wanted to understand if we needed to be here, right? But over time I think what we realized is, like, there’s definitely more than enough space for any voices that are aiming to do this, and the fact of the matter is if I look across the entire podcast landscape and I can only see one, then, I mean, that probably means, you know, it needs a little bit more.

Felicia: Yeah. We need all different perspectives, ’cause here’s the thing. As black people, we are not a monolith. Like, what goes for one black person doesn’t go for the other. Hey, guess what? Not all black folks are Christian. Not all black folks are Baptists, you know? You know, like, we’re not all the same, but the problem is the media portrays us as that one black friend or that crackhead or that baby momma, and that’s what it’s been until recently, right?

Zach: Until recently, that’s true.

Felicia: And so we have these stereotypes that we need to fight, and the only way to do that is for many more of us to tell our stories, you know, be real about what’s happening to us in different aspects of our lives in corporate spaces. That’s just one aspect of, God, so many.

Zach: No, that’s super true, and I think it’s interesting. Even the way that, like, you’re framing this, in which I agree, is–I think, like, our vibes are really different, right? Like, our core messages are the same, but our vibes are different. So, like, Trill MBA, you know, y’all are–correct me if I’m wrong. My impression is y’all have been focused on, like, the very visceral experiences of black folks and how to really shed off the BS and really be your full selves at work. Now, Living Corporate, we aim to do the same thing, but we’re not just focused on black folks and the framing and the tone in which we take around certain topics are a little bit different, and one could even say it’s almost like an exercise in respectability politics in the way that we go about handling our content.

Felicia: Yes, which is what we’re gonna talk about today, and–

Zach: Segue king.

Felicia: [laughs] Well, the thing is also, like, I’m very focused on black women, because that’s what I know and that’s what I understand, and the great thing is a lot of the things that happen to black women in corporate also happen to other non-white males in corporate, but I want to pick out the nuances for black women. So for example, white women in the workplace, they get up in the morning, they’ll look in the mirror, and their concern may be, “Okay, does this skirt fit too tight? Because I don’t want to draw negative attention or derail my career because I’m coming off too sexy at work,” whereas black women look in the mirror and say, “Okay, do I wear my natural hair today, or do I need to put this heat on it and damage it one more again? What meetings I got today?” So it’s the same experience in the root of oppression. It just shows itself differently, and that’s what I want to bring to the forefront.

Zach: It’s more than appreciated and needed, but yeah, you’re right. We’re talking today about respectability politics, and for those–’cause we haven’t really said this yet, but we’re gonna say it now. So this is, like, a two-parter, y’all. So we’re gonna have part one on the Living Corporate side, and then we’re gonna have part two on the Trill MBA side. But we just want to kind of give some context in terms of just what it is that we’re talking about. So I want to go ahead and give a quick definition of respectability politics, and it’s interesting ’cause when you look up respectability politics–like, you, like, Google it, right? So there’s a Wikipedia entry, and then there’s a couple of, like, posts on Medium, and there’s also an article on The Root, but there isn’t, like, a super historical breakdown, like, within The New York Times or the Washington Post or even, like, The Atlantic. Like, it’s not–it’s not necessarily something that we just talk about and really explore it in-depth in the same ways as we have other, like, hot terms, hot button terms, but I do want to talk a little bit about it. So the term “politics of respectability”–I’m reading from the Wiki, y’all, so don’t judge me. Ultimately, when you–when you look at the history of respectability politics, it really actually started from the efforts of black women aiming to distance themselves from the negative stereotypes that came with being black in their communities, and it aims to control or really set the terms of behavior to make sure that your behavior kind of adheres to norms, and those norms are typically established by the majority. Stereotypes typically, like, around, like, us being lazy or dumb or violent or immoral, and so a lot of times when you think about, like, respectability politics, think about the difference between Carlton and Will on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, right? So, like, Carlton was, like, very quote-unquote articulate. He dressed–he did not, you know, sag his pants. He was a respectable guy. He was very intelligent, whereas Will was–he’d sag his pants, he’d laugh, he’d joke. He’d be all loud, you know what I mean? He was–he dated a lot. So, you know, he was not monogamous at all, and so, you know, that’s where you see–you definitely see, like, a dichotomy there. And then it says–again, y’all, I’m reading off the Wiki. That’s, like, kind of some of the background, but I’m also gonna put the other links in here around some of the other posts that we found, some of the other research that we found. There are research studies that associate part of the high burden of mental health disease for black Americans on assimilationist behaviors. So what does that mean? So the idea or the activity of us aiming to “act white,” quote-unquote, puts a mental strain on us, right? Like, the idea that we need to adhere and just, like, behave in a certain way all the time, and that self-policing, that active self-policing, is mentally draining. Researchers Hedwig Lee and Margaret Takako Hicken argue further conversations about respectability politics should always consider the challenge of negotiating every day social spaces as a black American and how this impacts mental health. And then so really though if you want to–if you want to really read more on the origins of respectability politics, check out the book Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 188-1920, written by Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. And that’s where the term was really coined and created, and it really, again, was to describe the social and political changes in the black community during this time. So this was transitioning from slavery. There was a movement that originated in the black church to really, like, almost reform the black image. This black image was one that was created through oppression, but it was the idea of having the right types of behaviors to be accepted as a functioning member of society. And you see that. Again, like, when you–I remember when I grew up, you know, when I was a little kid, there would be other black people who would be like, you know, “Y’all need to stop acting so black. Y’all need to act white.” Right? Or if you’re hanging out with your friends, your black friends, they’d be like, “You acting white,” if you happen to do well in school or speak well or just reject–like, just reject slang or–it’s like, “Oh, you actin’ white.” It’s like, “I’m not acting white. I’m just–” I’m not acting white. Like, that is super problematic, but that’s the idea of respectability politics. And then, like–look, so here you go. So y’all want another example? I’m about to say a bunch of buzzwords today. Black Lives Matter. So the Black Lives Matter movement is an example of a movement against respectability politics. The movement was motivated by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. So we know the story of an unarmed teenager shot by a neighbor. In line with the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, some celebrities who have typically shied away from the conversations about race have begun to engage the topic. And so we have, like, Shonda Rhimes as an example. Of course we have John Legend, but, like, there’s–again, y’all, like, that’s the idea. Am I making sense, Felicia? Or am I just kind of all over the place?

Felicia: Yeah. I’m over here triggered that–like, that’s why I’m like, “Oh, my God, yeah,” ’cause I was that kid who was told in elementary school by my elementary school teacher–shout-out Ms. [Sledge?]. Well, I guess she might be married now. [laughs] But, you know, I would come to school and speak in black vernacular from home, and when you’re learning, you know how to write sentences and how to write in, you know, “proper English,” quote-unquote, you are told then at that point that how you’re writing this is wrong. ‘Cause I would, like, write things like, “What it is?” [laughs] “How you doin’?” You know? And the teacher’s like, “How ARE you doing.” “Oh, okay.” And yeah, I caught on quickly, and I learned how to code switch without even understanding that’s what I was learning to do. It became “This is how you talk at school, and that’s how you talk at home.” And so for me I also had a nickname, like many black people, and so my nickname is Lisa. And so at home I was Lisa, and at school I was Felicia, and so there began this whole psychological warfare of “Who am I?” [laughs] Or “Who do I need to be?” And always questioning that. So yeah, I’m triggered right now. [laughs]

Zach: Well, it’s interesting, right? ‘Cause basically respectability politics, or adhering to respectability politics, says, “Look, for you to be treated better by those in power, you need to act this way,” right? So you need to–you know, at work you need to dress this way. You need to say these things. Your work needs to look like this. Like, and it’s so much about quality or even delivery. It’s about the methodology of a thing and not necessarily the actual thing itself, and that–again, like, that effort to continue to self-police and tweak and adjust and consider every little thing you do can be genuinely, literally nerve-wracking, right?

Felicia: It’s dangerous.

Zach: It’s super dangerous. In my experience in my career, what I’ve seen is that a lot of times when you have, like, you know, employee resource groups or these types of groups that are, like, basically asking you to huddle around some aspect of shared identity–typically it’s race–and for the black ERGs, what I’ve seen is really just a lot of conversations around respectability, right? So “Hey, when you come to work, you need to, you know, make sure you’re dressing like this.” “Don’t be saying–don’t use slang.” It’s just–it’s a bunch of don’ts, right? It’s a bunch of–it’s a bunch of things for you to assimilate, and I think the biggest thing about respectability politics and just the whole concept of, you know, you need to act this way so that white people approve of you is, look, there’s nothing you’re going to do–there’s nothing you’re going to do that is going to dissuade someone from realizing that you’re a black person, right? Now, in your mind, I guess if your goal is just to make sure you look like you’re one of the good ones, I mean, I guess that’s a choice, but ultimately nothing you’re going to do is gonna stop them from remembering that you are not white. And it’s interesting, because, like, when I talk to older mentors of mine who are the same age as my parents–they’ve done this for a little while. I say, “What would advice would you give me?” And they’re like, “Look, the main thing you need to realize is you will not ever be one of them. Like, ever.” Like, that’s the–that’s the feedback, and, like, that’s what they’ve said over and over and over again is “Hey, you’re not them, and you’re not ever gonna be them.” “So as long as you keep that in mind.” He’s like “Zach, you know, I know you’re doing well and everybody likes you and blah blah blah blah blah, but, like, you’re not–you’re not gonna be them.” And it was just–that hurt my heart. Like, for that to even be–like, for that to be–for that to be the advice that they gave me is–it hurts. Like, it’s real, but it hurts. It’s like, “Wow, okay.” So–

Felicia: Hold on. Let’s unpack that.

Zach: Hm?

Felicia: Why does that hurt you and many people? Like, what is it about the fact that you will never be them that you feel–that makes you feel uncomfortable or you feel a certain kind of way?

Zach: It’s just–it’s just sad. Like, it’s just really sad, like, because a lot of times when you say, “Well, there is no–there are no races but the human race, and we’re all one people,” and all this kind of stuff, and it’s like, you know, ultimately everybody wants to be accepted, right? Everybody wants to be accepted. So, like, when you’re like, “Hey, I don’t care what you do, you are always gonna be other. You’re always gonna be different.” And so it’s the–the fact of me always being other and different isn’t on its face hurtful. That’s not the problem, but what is sad is that, like, the people that I’m talking to who are at the top of their respective fields, they are, you know, again, outside looking in, very respected and highly successful with a huge network of people that don’t look like them–that ultimately even they, they go home at their end of their days, or they’re in these situations where they still don’t feel as if they truly are accepted and belong there. That’s sad to me. It hurt. So that’s what I mean when I say it hurts.

Felicia: Yeah, and that’s why I needed you to unpack that, because I didn’t want it to be, like, you necessarily want to be them or want to be in the white boy club or want to be a white boy.

Zach: [laughs] No.

Felicia: [laughs] Right, I just wanted to make that clear.

Zach: Definitely not. I’m very–I’m very in love with the skin God gave me. I’m happy with my culture and my identity. It’s just more about, like, being other. It’s just a different life. It’s a different experience, and there’s nothing you’re gonna be able to do to really–to change that, and not that you should necessarily even want to change that I guess in terms of you being different, but it’s just sad. Like, it’s just sad to me that, like, I’ve met people who have been–I mean, they’ve been working for 40, 50 years. Like, they’ve been–they’ve really been putting in all this effort, and you would think at some point they would be truly accepted and truly part of the in group. And there’s always gonna be a–there’s always gonna be a bit of tension there in terms of “How much do you really belong?”

Felicia: Well, and that’s the thing, you’re not. But we need to realize that that’s okay, that it’s okay to just live in your truth and be who you are, and I think what’s so hard is that as human beings there is a need to feel accepted and to feel like you belong and that you have a place in the space that you occupy, and that rudimentary human need is expressing itself through the nuance of history and culture. You know, basically everything is the fault of slavery, but I think what bothers me the most is that you can’t win in this situation of respectability politics because your mentors and those men that were telling you, “Hey, Zach, when you come into this space, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t do this. You need to be this way.” That isn’t necessarily a rejection of who you are. What that is is survival, and so something that we have to give our ancestors the benefit of the doubt on is that the reason why they were trying to conform and assimilate is so that they can lessen the negative aspects of life that came from being so different and making white people uncomfortable. And so the idea is that if I show you and prove to you that I’m just as human as you are, that I’m just as good as you have claimed to made yourself to be, then you should treat me better, and you should just let me live, but that’s the flaw in the thinking, is that you do this activity, you change yourself, you conform, but they will never see you as human. They will never see you as equal. They will never see you as them because the hate and the wanting to be in power and the wanting to be better than and more runs so deep through generations of the culture of Caucasians that you can do all the respectability politics you want, and it will get you so far–it will help you survive–but it won’t help you thrive.

Zach: It will, it will. No, it won’t. And I think it’s just–it’s so interesting, because I would say, like, the most respectable person that we’ve ever seen on a public stage in our generation is Barack Obama, right?

Felicia: Oh, God. Poor Barack.

Zach: Like, Barack Obama is the most respectable person ever to respectable ever. Like, he is super–

Felicia: But yet what I–and see, this is why I love Barack, right? Because, in a very rebellious way, he would let his blackness be known in public. So, like, when you see him greeting, you know, white people, and he’s shaking their hands. “How are you doing? Hey. Good to see you. How are you doing?” And then a brother comes in that line, and it’s a whole full dap up.

Zach: I hear you. I hear you that there would be certain things he would do to let y’all know that he’s–he is black, but what I’m saying is that when you look at his overall profile, like, this man has had–he always spoke very well. He went to prestigious colleges. Rarely cursed, like, in mixed company. He always kept his cool, right? Like, he was never angry. People used to complain about the fact that he didn’t get angry enough. He dressed very respectably. But ultimately, people still talked to him crazy. People still called–people still attacked and degraded his wife. People still attacked and degraded his children. People still, you know, questioned his–questioned his competence and made a bunch of–a bunch of extremely racist statements. It was interesting, ’cause like, “Wow, man. This dude is the president of the free world. He’s the leader of the free world, and yet he can’t–“

Felicia: He can’t win.

Zach: He can’t win. He can’t win. Like–

Felicia: He can’t win. Can’t win ’em.

Zach: I want to say like Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic said. Man, I watched this man, like–he said, like, “walk on ice and never slip once,” right? Or something like that. It was like he was–he was squeaky clean, and yet, like–go ahead.

Felicia: I was gonna say but then think about if Barack Obama had acted up half as bad–just as half as bad–as this fool, 45, that’s in office right now. Can you imagine the David Duke-like person this country would have elected? Because I feel like the current person that holds the office of president–I can’t even bring myself to call him president, but that thing in office right now, he is a direct result of Barack Obama’s respectability politics and Barack Obama being this entity of a human that had to walk this tightrope line in behavior and manner and actions and, you know, trying to do the best he could with what he had, and they still hated him for it, and they just hated the fact that he was black. And because of that, it was like, “Well, this–” I ain’t even gonna say it on your side, but you know what they called him, and now this is the–this is like, “Okay, we got rid of him. We’re gonna fix it now,” and then, you know, it’s, like, swinging the pendulum all the way to the wrong side.

Zach: Right. Well, you know, I believe it was in Martin Luther King’s–I think it was either Where Do We Go From Here or the Letter from Birmingham Jail, but he talks about–he talks about white backlash to black progression, right, and he talks about the fact that, like, whenever there’s something that happens where black folks make some type of progress in being more free, then the white majority–and again, for those who are listening, not every single white person. We’re talking about the historical narrative of America–that there’s some type of backlash, and I want to say, like, Van Jones–Van Jones, a couple years ago–as problematic as he can be from time to time–he used the term “whitelash,” and that’s what it is, right? And this is not a political podcast, right, but it’s–to me, like, it’s the biggest example to me of respectability politics and the narrative of, like, look, like, if they’re not gonna listen to Barack Obama, with his very prestigious pedigree and vast intelligence, they’re likely not gonna–they’re likely not gonna feel you either. So, like, how do you–so then, like, the question to me then is what does it look like to reject respectability politics, reject respectability, and be your best self? Right? Like, that’s really what I want to understand. I want to understand what advice it is we have for our listeners who–you know, who have–again, black culture, like, we–especially professional black culture is largely shaped by respectability politics. Like, you’re gonna go and show up to these things. You’re gonna talk a certain way. You’re gonna not do certain things. You’re gonna not have certain conversations. You’re going to laugh at certain jokes. You’re gonna laugh a certain way. You’re going to dress a certain way. Like, because of respectability politics, because you want to fit in, and the point that you made earlier about, like, it’s not to shame anybody. The origin of respectability politics and the origin of attempted assimilation is survival, right? And that translates today. Like, we act and carry ourselves in a certain way because we want to get promoted or we don’t want to get fired or, you know, we want a bonus, or we want–like, there are things that we believe that respectability will earn us, will reward us, and so what I’m really curious about is that conversation. How do we encourage folks to be their full selves, right? How do we encourage people to fully embrace who they are and really be their authentic selves? Because only in being your most authentic self can you really be your best at work.

Felicia: Right, and I think we have to really get honest with ourselves and understand that we’re operating out of fear. And so this is something that I’ll be touching on in my book. I’m working on a book right now to come out at the beginning of next year, and it’s focused on career management for black women. And so one thing we’ve always been taught is that, you know, you need to show up in a certain way, and what I’m finding through my research is that the black women specifically that are doing very well in corporate America–so they’re in the pipeline, they have senior-level sponsors. So their sponsors are CMOs, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs. Their sponsors are in the C-Suite, and they are being put into the succession pipeline for higher levels of leadership. Those black women are actually doing well because–they do something that’s very unique in that they decide that they’re gonna be themselves, but in addition to being themselves, they decide to share their story, one, and two, they also decide to bring their most positive self to work every day. So one thing they still keep I think from the realm of respectability politics is the idea that I have to fight against the stereotype of being the angry black woman. And I honestly think this is okay, because my grandma, she always told me “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, baby,” and that holds true to this day. So when you come into an organization and you face those challenges and the stress people try to cause you, whether necessary or not, when you can come in with your happiest self, your most pleasant self, your most positive self, and still bring the critical thinking–push back in a way that’s a win-win for everybody, you know? Tell people about you and who you are and your personality, which we’ve always been taught “Don’t do that ’cause they’re gonna use it against you later.” When you make that change, that’s where you start to see a resonating with the humanity of the people you work with that don’t look like you, because now instead of being afraid of you they start to understand you as a human, and you’re not just this black entity that they don’t know and they’re afraid of. And so that’s the thing that we need to change. We need to focus more on relationship building and less on conforming and putting our heads down and thinking that our work is going to speak for ourselves, because work is only 10% of the equation in success. So you can do all the great work you want to. The mediocre white man is still gonna get your promotion. Why? Because he has relationships. And so we can now move from this idea of respectability politics, because it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous to our mental health. It’s dangerous because it doesn’t help us fight stereotypes the way we think it is. It’s like you’re trying to call the stereotype as wrong, and first of all, stereotypes are just generalizations that have a bit of truth in them. We all have a Cousin Pookie. Yes, it’s true. He might not be named Pookie, but we all have him. You know who your Cousin Pookie is. I got a couple of–

Zach: Every family has a Cousin Pookie. Every family, irrespective of race. Right.

Felicia: But the thing that we need to get white people to understand is that our Cousin Pookie is their cousin Billy Bob or their cousin Ray-Ray.

Zach: Correct. Exactly, yes. Everybody has one. Everybody has a problematic–like, a challenging family member. Everybody has problems in their family. There’s–like, the things that are so negatively attributed to black culture and brown culture, those things are happening in all families, all communities, because life happens. Because life happens and we are all human beings.

Felicia: Yes! And that’s what we all need to understand. This idea of thinking that there’s aspects of your life that will make you better than the next person next to you and somehow make them less human than you are, like somehow you’re a better human, that’s the crux of prejudice and racism and just all of these ideas of you trying to somehow elevate yourself on the backs of someone else, and in order to do that and to somehow keep your conscience, you have to dehumanize the person who you’re standing on. And in this country it plays out around race, but, you know, this is a human problem, but the more that we use our intellect to recognize it and recognize that respectability politics was only a way for us to survive in white spaces, that that doesn’t work now. And you can try all you want to. You’re not going to win. Barack is a very good example of that, and so now what do we do? We tell our stories. We humanize ourselves to the world. We share our culture. We share all of it though. The fun parts, the sad parts, the raw, human parts, the elated, joyful parts, and that’s how we start to shift in the minds of the next generations that we are not a people that you can continue to step on and elevate yourself, because we’re gonna move, and you’re gonna fall on your butt.

Zach: And, you know, I’m really appreciative of this conversation. I mean, it’s tough because when you think about–I was raised to really believe that “Look, if you just put your head down, you work really hard, you keep your business to yourself, you don’t tell your story, then you’re gonna go far.” And it’s like you said, that’s not working now. Like, storytelling is the chief medium of connection, and it’s growing to be that, especially in corporate spaces. Like, those who can best tell stories, those who can best connect the dots in a way in a narrative form. And not, like, in a bulleted list, but, like, truly how they communicate is effective storytelling. Those are the folks that are making an impact, and that’s a different point of direction for us, and it’s, like, very much so against the grain of what I believe we’ve been taught historically will keep us safe.

Felicia: Right, but I want you to realize – everything that we’ve been taught was taught out of fear. So it was “I’m afraid for you to walk in this space, and I need you to keep yourself safe, and so, you know, these are the things you need to do,” which is–I mean, but literally it was about life or death, right? Like, if you walked in and you looked at a white man in the eye, you could die, you know? And so respectability politics had its place, but I think now we need to move forward and realize it is a new day, and so for you, Zach, I would encourage you to be more brave, be more courageous, and take those chances that feel, like, risky, like, real risky, and go for it, because those are the–those are the things that get you promoted.

Zach: Oh, no doubt.

Felicia: When you go to the CEO and be like, “Hey, I’m Zach. I just wanted to introduce myself. How are you doing today?” Now everybody will be like, “You just walked up to the CEO with your black self? And what did you say?” Even your white boss will be in fear. But the thing is, when you do that though, you’re humanizing yourself. You’re humanizing this person who has this title, and everybody walks around on eggshells around [them,] and now this person wants to connect with you because you opened the door, and they’re just humans. And so we need to figure out, as black people, how do we get comfortable in our own skin in the workplace to make those human connections with the white men that are old and stodgy and they have resting bitch face that–nobody ever calls out that old white men have resting bitch face, but, you know, like, how do you get past all of that facade and go talk to them and meet them and learn about them and ask them to learn from them and share with them the things that you know about their organization that they’ll never see because they’re the CEO?

Zach: No, that’s real. And, I mean, it’s interesting that you’d say that, ’cause even, like–and I haven’t really ever shared this yet, but, like, my promotion journey to get to a manager role–and I got promoted at my last firm, and I’m at a new firm now, a new consulting firm now, but it had a lot to do with me telling my story and putting myself out there and connecting and networking with fairly senior folks, and I don’t–and I don’t think it’s exclusive–and I don’t think you’re saying this, and I recognize Trill MBA’s focus, but it’s a chance to–

Felicia: It’s for everybody.

Zach: It’s for everybody, right? It’s for every non-white person.

Felicia: It’s for white people too–it’s for white men too. Like, and that’s the thing we need to realize. Like, in some way, respectability politics also plays out from an economic standpoint. So you will have poor white men whose narrative is “I was raised in the back woods of Alabama, and my parents scraped together enough money to send me to Alabama University, and so then I went to grad school, I got into Harvard, and now I’ve unlocked this world of elitism.” And then they hide, you know, their hick family, you know? They feel like they have to fit into this elite people, you know?

Zach: That’s real.

Felicia: So these things happen in different ways, but they happen to all of us, and so I don’t want to deny anybody’s experience. I just want to call out, “Hey, as black women, this is how this happens for us,” in a way that humanizes us and in a way that you can understand.

Zach: No, that’s real, and so what I want us to do is I want us to go ahead and, for our listeners…

Felicia: Oh, it’s about to get real. [laughs]

Zach: Check us out. We’re about to go ahead–and you’re gonna listen to part two of this conversation on the Trill MBA show. That’s right. So, look, we’ve got, like, a crossover thing. It’s really cool, right? Like, it’s kind of like when you have–I don’t know, what’s all the shows on NBC? You got Law & Order, and then you’ve got SVU and, like, you know, all the characters kind of cross over. You’re like, “Oh, snap. Oh, [?]. They’re on the–” You know, so it’s kind of like that for your podcasts. For the loyalists over on Living Corporate, y’all get to now hear me on Trill MBA and vice versa, you know what I mean? So it’s kind of like that.

Felicia: Yeah. You’re the Olivia Pope, and then I’m gonna be Viola Davis. I always forget her character’s name. I know that’s horrible, but she is so ratchet on that show. Like, she killed people and everything, so I don’t think–

Zach: Oh, you’re talking about How to Get Away With Murder?

Felicia: Yes! Yes. You know, they did that crossover episode. Annalise Keating! I’m gonna be Annalise Keating, and you’re Olivia Pope. So you all statuesque and, like, put together, white knighting it, and then I’m over here breaking laws ’cause I’m a rebel.

Zach: Wow. [laughs]

Felicia: So if you want to come over and hear us be real black, come on over to the Trill MBA Show, where–what we’re gonna break down though, we’re gonna give you tangible, tactical tips on how to combat respectability politics for yourself in your workplace over at Trill MBA.

Zach: All right, y’all. Well, listen here. Thank y’all for listening to the Living Corporate podcast. You can check us out everywhere at Living Corporate. That’s right. So if you Google–that’s right, Google–Living Corporate, we’ll pop up. We’re @LivingCorp_Pod on Twitter. We’re @LivingCorporate on Instagram. Livingcorporatepodcast@gmail.com email address, and then we’re living-corporate–please say the dash–dot com for the website. We’re also livingcorporate.co. We’re, like, all the Living Corporates dot whatever except for Living Corporate dot com because Australia is still holding onto that domain. So we’re gonna have to see what’s going on with the AU so we can get that domain, but yeah. If you have any questions you’d like for us to read on the show or anything you’d like for us to shout out, man, look, our DMs are open, okay? Twitter DM, Instagram DM, Facebook Messenger, and you can email us at livingcorporatepodcast@gmail.com. You can also contact us through our website, which I’ve already talked about. And make sure to subscribe to our newsletter through our website as well, okay? Let’s see here. Shout-out to JJ. Shout-out to all the folks who are checking out the podcast. Shout-out to Trill MBA. You’re gonna see us over on the next one. This has been Zach, and you have been listening to myself–

Felicia: Felicia Ann Rose Enuha, A.K.A. the Trillest MBA you will ever know.

Zach: JJ, drop the air horns right here. Yes, right on the outro. We’re gonna put the air horns on here for my girl Felicia. Thank you so much. Thank y’all for listening to us. We’re gonna be back. Peace.

Felicia: That was so cool. [laughs]

Support Our Mission of Amplifying Underrepresented Voices...

Living Corporate’s mission is singular in purpose, but diversified in approach. From our podcasting, to live events around the US, to our giveaways. 

Through Our Podcasts

Our podcast garners over 10K downloads a week and reaches black and brown executives, millennials, college students, creatives and influencers. 

Through Our Visual Media

We host a variety live, interactive web series for Black and brown early, mid, and late careerists that have a global reach. 

Through Our Resources

We connect our audience with valuable resources from resume services, certification prep materials, conference,  attendance sponsorship, and Living Corporate merchandise. Join our newsletter to learn more.


Select Payment Method
Personal Info


Donation Total: $10.00 One Time


Join Our Community

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Living Corporate will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.