Cedrick Smith So the disruptive part for me is the white supremacy, the white supremacy, and the microaggression is the microaggression of outright racism, to be quite honest with you, that I've had to deal with and I think that's what people don't realize is what we're bringing to the workplace before we even hit the door, before we even have to deal with some of the I want to say normal disruptive events that we all have.
This is the first in a two-part series about the challenge of working in a world where whiteness is supreme. And if you don’t know what that means, if that previous sentence put your teeth on edge, then this episode is probably one that you especially need to hear.
My guests are Dr. Cedrick Smith and Tosca Davis, two Black activists, professionals, and, most recently, filmmakers. Their film, To Be Us, is making the film festival circuit, receiving accolades for telling the stories of Black professionals whose primary disruptive life event is living and working in a world that does not value divergence from the norm of whiteness. The question that they ask all of their interviewees is, “What is your working while black story.”
I am giving it two episodes not because it is easy listening, but because it is essential listening. I’ve seen the film; it is both powerful and necessary and I am eager to be a part of exploring the themes in our next two episodes.
We began our interview during election week in November of 2020. The whole nation was tense, but I was especially struck by the physical uncertainty for Cedric and Tosca in Texas.
- Tosca Davis Friends walked into the apartment building and this white guy said, what are you doing here inward? And, you know, I was like, OK, it's already starting. So regardless of who wins as a black body, there's going to be terrorism stuff. We're going to feel it. So it doesn't have to be physical. I'm always going to be very protective of my body and I'm already conscious of where I am as a black person. I've already been socialized to be conscious of my body at all times, regardless of where I am.
This is Tosca Davis, an activist, mystic, a storyteller, and the co-CEO of To Be Us Productions. We will hear more from her soon.
- Tosca Davis But as far as feeling safe, I wouldn't say you would find too many black people who are going to feel safe in either.
- Cedrick Smith In fact, back then to that, we already won and family members are still like that, we have text groups that are like, hey, look, if you are by yourself, be very aware where you are. Be very aware of your surroundings. You know, go with somebody, gas your car up in the daytime. These are literal things that we're texting to one another during this time. So, yeah, like Tosca, we don't never feel safe.
This is Dr. Cedrick Smith, he is an activist, an athlete, a writer, a comic book collector, and a physician. Very much a Renaissance man and a co-CEO of To Be Us Productions.
- Cedrick Smith I just don't think that I was at my country club the other day hitting balls and we have a practice area and there was a guy's house and he's always trying to police. And I put that in quotes, police the practice area.
- Cedrick Smith So every time I come out there, he's always like, hey, you replace the divets? Are you doing it? I'm playing golf since I was seven years old. I'm fifty. And so I'm like, yeah, I'm doing all of that. But he's he's like surveilling and policing. So he he comes out of his house when he's walking toward me. And I was like, OK, who wants to do walking toward me? So I just kind of moved away from it, first of all, because the would not want to be close to him, but he was going to get one of the golf carts.
- Cedrick Smith And I said, I hope not coming out here, police me like you always try to do with people that have the driving race. And I'm not really trying to please you. So that's what you always