The whole subject of code-switching, as it stands now, makes my skin crawl, especially when I see other Black women promoting it as a positive thing to do. And as grown-ass working Black queens, especially those of us in fields that are majority male or majority white, we've all done some form of code-switching.
When you totally change the way you speak, your mannerisms, your tone, or any other way of communicating, you've earned your place in the Code-switching Club, sis. And if you're among the scores of Black women who have felt they've been forced to code-switch simply to survive and pay the bills, let me tell you now: I chose, a decade ago, to never code-switch to the point of inauthenticity and mental turmoil again, and today, I'm challenging you to do the same.
Before we go any further, let's get into more about what exactly code-switching involves. Research has found that people find code-switching "professional," and that the act can indeed "facilitate career advancement, connection and other forms of success." As much of this can be true since code-switching comes with its rewards, I have found, as a Black woman who has worked in both corporate and small-business environments, that the definition and sacrifice of self for us goes way beyond just speech.
In my experience, if I spoke too loudly, I was labeled "ghetto" or "uncouth." If I spoke too much with my hands, used slang, or didn't enunciate every syllable, I'd be considered unreliable, uneducated, or not trustworthy. If I used analogies that are smart but rooted in "urban" or Black culture, I'd sometimes be laughed at like I was the company comedian.
Code-switching has been found to take an "emotional toll" on Black professionals especially. The motivation behind code-switching involves being accepted in environments where you feel you have no choice but to blend in or totally change who you are during your office hours just so you can pay the bills or advance up the ladder.
This involves fighting against what is called "stereotype threat," and can "undermine motivation and trust and cause underperformance." We all know that as Black women, communication goes beyond just our words and phrases, into the way we use gestures, dress, and our overall powerful swagger. For us, the promotion and rewarding of code-switching (both passively and overtly) are stifling, discriminatory, and, dangerous. It's also rooted in bias and white supremacy. Yep, I said it.
It's one thing to be respectful, eloquent, graceful, and emotionally intelligent. Those are all amazing leadership qualities and skills that are necessary for anybody in any business or social arena. But it's a whole other thing to put Black women in a monolith and force them to totally change who they are every day--- women who are already disenfranchised in the workplace, face double discrimination, are disproportionately underrepresented in the C-suite, and already have to fight to "lean in" and take up space.
So how did I thrive by not code-switching? Here's how I navigated my rebellion against an age-old so-called norm in the workplace:
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1. I aligned myself with organizations, opportunities, and companies that were a fit for my personality, career goals, and values.
I like to change up my hair without a bunch of judgments and questions, and I'm okay with bluntly letting someone know that I'm not in the mood to explain why or how. I like to use slang (hell, even patois), and I talk with my hands. I laugh heartily and I'm passionate about what I do, so yes, sometimes my tone is louder than a whisper. I have a deep Virginia country accent or a very-suspect Trinidadian-Jamaican one, depending on the situation. And all of the clients and publications I work with respect and love those things about me.
Not all Fortune 500 companies are created equal when it comes to truly facilitating diversity and inclusion, both in good and bad ways, but you can indeed find a company where you can just be yourself (whatever that means for you) while doing work that is impactful, challenging, and rewarding.
Go on informational interviews, ask questions about diversity resources and company culture, connect with others who work for your dream brands to get a sense of what it's like in the office, and look up folk on LinkedIn to discern if that company's mission, values, and vibes match with your goals and values.
Also, why not look outside of the corporate realm and work for smaller brands, nonprofits, or startups? I've found that I have the most freedom to just be me working with entrepreneurs or companies that aren't yet at the 500-global-locations stage. Many of the companies I've worked for or with were either Black-owned or women-led, and I've had the most fulfilling career experiences with those types of companies simply because their goals, way of doing business, and priorities were similar to mine.
2. I got real with myself about my personality and communication styles in the workplace--the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I'll be honest here: I've had to get some major mentoring and even pursued a master's degree to learn how to better communicate as a leader. I've found that when I feel slighted or upset, for example, I'm more apt to be super-disrespectful and off-putting, which indeed is unprofessional and alarming to co-workers and clients. I know I'm a good leader, love to help people, and have the experience to guide others, but I keep it very real with myself when I fall short and the actions I need to take to improve.
While code-switching can be demoralizing in certain situations, sometimes we have to confidently know ourselves in order to determine when it's necessary and when it's not.
For example, I've found that raising my voice or tightening my tone can be problematic if a difference of opinion happens, so I've learned to smile, take a deep breath, think first, listen clearly, then respond. I also know I have a strong presence in any situation, and my energy when I walk in a room is super-noticeable. It's a bittersweet gift. (I have always been bossy, and I've had to play leadership roles in my household since childhood, so that can also be misunderstood or taken the wrong way.) Thus, if I really want to serve or get people to endear themselves to me, I can be a bit more graceful in my approach or try not to immediately criticize or correct someone.
The key realization here, though, is that these are all self-improvement actions I take, as a human being, after consistent self-reflection, therapy, training, and journaling, not trauma responses due to being afraid of embodying some unfair Black woman stereotype.
If you're not sure of your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to your workplace communication and experiences, try an assessment like CliftonStrengths, talk with a trusted workplace bestie or mentor, or hire a career or life coach to troubleshoot scenarios and process through your communication styles.
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3. I stopped taking jobs just for the money and focused on my ultimate lifestyle goal and purpose.
I know, I know. This can seem challenging for many of us who have bills to pay and other very expensive obligations. Hear me out: So, instead of staying in a workplace or employment situation, that for me, became toxic simply due to the fact that the culture just wasn't a good fit, I went freelance and decided to take my risks there. If I had to work a customer service or remote tech job in between---just to pay the bills--- yet still have the freedom to seek out the real fit where I could be myself, so be it.
Just as some of us can sacrifice to get that six-figure job at a place where you're okay with cutting off your braids, turning into a whole different character, or wearing a black wig over those red curls (not judging sis; I see you and love you!), some of us must sacrifice in order to reach our end goal of radically saying no to doing those things.
It's everyone's right and unique journey as to what they deem important in order to reach their career goals (which connect to life quality and vision) and being able to wear my hair and nails the way I want, respectfully speak when and how I want, and having the freedom to communicate in ways that are both effective and genuine to me is more important in the grand scheme of things. (Also, these freedoms allow me to connect with the audiences I feel called to serve, thus, I have no choice but to do so.)
I spent years just not being myself, paying so-called dues, and have felt the negative residual effects of doing that. It's wasted years that I could have used pouring into becoming the best, most authentic version of me, and it was a relief to finally say, "Nope, pick somebody else. I'm not the one anymore." And you can, too, sis.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The Libra woman and Aries man are the divine feminine and divine masculine, coming together as one. The love compatibility between these two is one for the books. These two are opposite signs, however, their differences tend to complement each other well. This is a dynamic relationship where they know how to have a lot of fun together, but also aren’t afraid to deal with the more serious stuff that comes with a relationship.
The Libra woman is looking for her equal in love, someone who is willing to put in the same effort she is, and the Aries man sees Libra as someone he is willing to do that with.
The Love Compatibility Of A Libra Woman And An Aries Man
What attracts a Libra woman and an Aries man to each other?
There is a magnet of attraction pulling these two together, and things tend to move pretty fast in this relationship. The Libra woman is always open to love and her charming nature rarely has any challenges here. The Aries man fights for his independence and doesn’t sacrifice that unless he is completely enamored with someone.
Once the Aries man catches the eye of the Libra woman, he is typically the one to make the first move and this instantly wins the approval of Libra.
These two feel like they have known each other forever when they meet, and this spark between them doesn’t die down easily.
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What is the relationship like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The relationship between the Libra woman and the Aries man is one of balance and excitement. The Aries man tends to take on the more dominant role in this relationship and the Libra woman tends to be the more receptive one. Aries is ruled by masculine Mars, and Libra is ruled by feminine Venus. They understand they are coming from two completely different worlds, yet they also instinctively feel this underlying connection to each other and like they could be something each other needs in their lives.
The Libra woman can rely on the Aries man, and the Aries man never has to ask for the love that Libra already knows he needs.
This is a couple that is often reading each other’s minds and wanting to do a lot of the same things. However, not everything is rainbow in this relationship as well, and there are some major differences they have to overcome to make things work. One argument can lead to an explosion between these two, and addressing things when they come up rather than sweeping them under the rug, will be needed to make this relationship long-term.
What is the sex like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The sex between a Libra woman and an Aries man is adventurous. These are two cardinal signs with plenty of energy and stamina to keep things exciting in the bedroom. There tends to be a good give and take in this relationship, and their yin and yang energy benefits them when it comes to their sex life.
There is electricity felt between the two of them in this area of their life, and their power of attraction to each other is strong. These are two people who will want to do a lot of things together, including exploring sexually together.
The Aries man will have to be careful with being overly aggressive, however, as the soft Libra woman may not like this energy- it will completely depend on the two individuals at hand. The Libra woman wants to ease into things, the Aries man wants to get going right away. Learning about each other's bodies, and energy, and reading each other’s cues will help with this.
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What makes a relationship between a Libra woman and an Aries man work?
These two genuinely like each other, and that basis is a key factor for success in any relationship. The Aries man is straight to the point, direct, and inspired. The Libra woman admires these characteristics in others, as she is often herself finding her balance in this type of energy as well. Neither sign is overly emotional in a way that turns them off, and they both require a lot of the same things in a committed relationship. They want honesty, fun, good communication, passion, and to be moving towards a common goal together.
The Libra woman and Aries man don’t have a problem being real with each other and this is something they really value within the relationship. They are both very charming, and there is plenty of flirtation and attraction to keep this relationship going. Aries being the protector they are, Libra finds a sense of safety and ease in this energy, and like they have found their match. Overall, this is a well-balanced relationship and one where they don’t have a problem when it comes to compatibility or chemistry in the relationship.
What may cause a Libra woman and an Aries man to break up?
Libra is the lover, Aries is the fighter, and this energy may be tiring for the both of them after time. The Libra woman can be passive to a fault, and the Aries man who is not evolved, may take advantage of that. She will need to be careful with putting Aries’ needs above her own, creating resentment later down the road. The Aries man loves a challenge, and the Libra woman would be up for that game for a little bit, but if she is not being met in the middle, she will begin to look for other places. These two can have a difficult time keeping the peace in the relationship, and there could be a lot of arguments and disagreements here if they both aren’t willing to put their egos or self-pleasing attitudes to the side.
The Libra woman and Aries man are both more sensitive than they appear or come off as. They are also not necessarily the type to dive deep into their emotions and express them to others, even in their relationships. However, this energy can keep the relationship to a surface level than what is needed to progress and grow the relationship, and a sense of openness is required for this couple to work. Libra needs romance, she wants to be wowed. Aries needs to remember this and to always consider her love language.
Overall, this is a successful pairing. They will have their fair share of challenges in the relationship, but nothing they can’t overcome if they are willing to. The trouble will come in when it comes to the longevity of the relationship, keeping Aries excited and Libra in love. However, all in all, there is more power, attraction, and love to keep this relationship together rather than apart. No relationship is perfect, but this one is a little more blessed than most.
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