“No Back Doors for Me”
a Memoir by Joyce Johnson
The story of the authors life in Corporate America as an African American Woman, often the first and only female or person of color in the room. The story begins at the end of her career in 2019 then goes back to her teenage years breaking color barriers in high school after attending an all Black elementary school, George Washington Carver in Galveston.
A guest post by Joyce Johnson
Many years ago, my mother shared a story with me that when she was a young woman there was a Mexican food restaurant in Galveston, Texas (where I grew up), and she loved their food. However, they only served Colored people from the back door. One day after being told “go to the back door,” she decided she just didn’t want to eat there again. So, she left. I have held on to that story since I was a young girl thinking that on that day she decided for herself and me as her firstborn that there would be “No Back Doors for Me.”
After creating my outline for this book and listing the stories I would share, I thought the irony of this story is that my entire business life, I have been treated as if I was at the back door. In the book, I will share stories of racism and sexism throughout my career which counts for more than half of my life. It wasn’t until completing a homework assignment during my diversity and inclusion studies through a program at Cornell University did I realize that I was experiencing a self-diagnosed form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). As a result of many incidents that I told myself to overlook, get past it, let it go, and to walk away from but I learned on that day that experiences of hate for any reason doesn’t go away. The result of being treated as if you are less than or don’t belong stays with you and just when you think you have it all figured out the memories and the pain of them can lead you on a path of self-destruction or self-discovery. I chose the latter!
Have you ever heard the saying that secrets can destroy people and families? I am a firm believer that the same applies on a greater scale, that secrets can also prove destructive in the boardroom and the workplace as companies are made up of people. Overlooking the issues confronting people of color in the workplace is much like covering your eyes to ignore the elephant sitting in the room. If discomfort exists, whether it seems real or imagined, whether injustice is based on perception or something more tangible and verifiable, the issues must be brought out into the light for examination and discussion. Then, and only then can solutions be found. By solutions, I am not referring to the one-year diversity and inclusion plans being formed by many organizations today as a result of protests by organizations like Black Lives Matter. I am looking for real solutions that hold individuals accountable for their actions.
In my opinion, the mistake often made by today’s top-level management is that they look past the working pool toward the customer as if it were a game of “Us and Them”. This method of avoidance is then adopted by mid-level managers. Why would they change if they don’t see any real change at the top?
Well, I have asked myself the question many times. Could I have done more? Why didn’t I fight harder? Did I give up too soon? The stories shared in the book are all personal battles of racism, sexism, and other isms. I fought a good fight in the battles I chose .I will share how I fought to give readers tools, hope, inspiration, anger, whatever it takes to fight your own battles for equality. I am committed to finishing the fight of isms with you until it ends or I do.
To close with something a little off path: I just received a text from my publisher, Darren Palmer. It’s a recording of Bishop T.D. Jakes interviewing John Hope Bryant, founder of Operation Hope. John comments on the interview that nearly caused Bishop Jakes to jump out of his seat. He said to “leave your adversary with his dignity”. They discussed how, sometimes African Americans take our hurt to the table. Instead of sticking to the factual conversation, we go for the jugular and remind our adversaries of their crime. It’s probably because we are so broken and frustrated by the time a meaningful conversation takes place. The adversary’s denial of said acts add to the hurt.
One of of my editors, also included the note from the conversation that “smart people will argue the point and leave their opponent still standing.” I am sure the people that have traumatized me and others as a result of their hate were smart but they didn’t care to leave us standing. With that said, my takeaway from his text is in this book leave a few people, companies, and organizations intact. Hmm.
In the African American culture, we have a few precious keepsakes that weren’t stolen or beaten out of us. One of those keepsakes was the power of the stories we told through songs to pass on our history to the next generation. This book is my story and my song!
About the Author
Joyce Johnson is an Author, Speaker, Sales Champion, and Business Coach, who has worked as a sales leader, business consultant and mentor for over 20 years. Joyce began her career in professional sports and later entered the telecommunications industry leading to a role as Sales Director in Global markets. Experienced in In her previous sales role, Joyce finished at the Top (#1) for two consecutive years 2017 and 2018.