Hey! So I know this is kind of ~awkward~, but I’ve noticed you’ve been having a little trouble remembering my name? Maybe it’s just me (it probably is), but it seems as though you keep confusing me with the other black girl? You know, the one with the completely different name, who looks nothing like me? Yeah, her.
I want you to know that I don’t blame you at all. In fact, I totally get it. There’s a lot to keep up with; the whole “political correctness” thing, where you have to assume "all black people don’t look the same", is pretty exhausting. I’m sure you don’t mean to call me a name that is definitely not my name (just to be clear on that), but the name of another black girl. I know you know.
But even if you didn’t know, who’s to blame you? There’s two of us, and how the hell are you supposed to focus on telling us apart while also doing your job? Never mind the four blond white guys named Tom who you seem to be able to distinguish between just fine. Two black girls who look so similar (but aren't actually similar at all)? That’s way too much. It’s no wonder your go-to technique is to throw out whichever name comes to you first and hope for the best. At least then there’s a 50% chance you’ll be right!
Anyway, you’re super busy, I’m super into being called by my actual name – how about we settle this? To make things easier, I put together a quick and easy guide as to how you can tell us apart. Maybe you can print this out and tape it to your desk? Or, like, get a personalised pendant with each of our faces and names in both sides of a locket? I don’t know. Whatever works for you.
1. Check our height.
The first and easiest signifier for distinction is height. For example, I am much taller than she is, and therefore appear different in size. While she is petite, and struggles to find her shoe size in many high street retail stores, I am much larger, and mostly complain about finding jeans that will fit my ridiculous waist-to-butt ratio.
You may have heard one of us voice our woes and wondered how one person could have such terrible sartorial issues. But alas, these were two separate conversations had by two separate people, who are not the same but entirely different.
2. Pay attention to our voices.
If you listen carefully, you will find we sound nothing alike. Her voice is soft and high. My voice is low, and at times obnoxiously loud. This information will come in handy in social settings, and you can look out for these telltale signs when we speak in meetings.
Now you’ll be able to tell which of us is which!
3. Notice our completely different personalities.
Again, you’ve been busy, so I doubt you’ve had the chance to really get to know us, but we actually have pretty distinctive tastes. And by “pretty distinctive”, I mean we don’t like any of the same things at all. We’re kind of like chalk and cheese really, which is why it’s so weird that you keep mixing us up because we’re so dissimilar, but as I said, no big deal at all! It’s an easy mistake to make.
4. Remember that we work in different departments.
Due to working in separate departments, myself and Only Other Black Girl Here spend the majority of our time in different locations. In fact, I rarely remember she’s here until I’m expected to answer to her name.
Surely our job titles, which have absolutely nothing to do with each other, are a surefire giveaway that we are not the same person?
That, and the fact we sit on opposite sides of the office, of course.
5. Consider that we’ve never had the same hairstyle.
Despite the fact 70% of our white male colleagues are currently working with the same “short back and sides” haircut, the two of us have never had the same hairstyle!
But don't panic, I'm well aware that black hair is “complex” and “confusing” and “feels weird”, so I don’t expect you to actually be able to tell the difference when we’re wearing two hairstyles that are totally non-identical.
Still, we’ve never copied each other. Not once!
6. Note our faces, which are in no way similar at all.
If none of this is enough to help you, do remember that our faces in no way resemble each other. Aside from being a comparable shade of brown, we have different eyes, noses, lips, and ears. We smile differently, scowl differently, and even cry differently. We are as different as they come, hence the different names.
But of course, you know this, deep down. You were probably just too busy not seeing race to notice, and I commend that!
Please, don’t take this advice too personally. The last thing I’d ever accuse you of is being a racist (ugh, such an ugly word!). This has probably just been a great big misunderstanding, and I’m more than happy to assist you in the difficult task of taking a few seconds to look at my face and actually learn my name. Perhaps you can attach it to my unique lived experience as a human being, and someone who has more to offer than just being one of two black girls you’ve apparently ever come into contact with? But seriously, no worries! I know you have hot yoga on your mind and all that. Regardless, I hope my guide will be of help to you, and in turn, to me – girl whose name you still don’t know.
Let me know what you think and I’ll see you around the office!