The internet is hell-bent on ‘quiet quitting’. You’re probably familiar with the concept if you haven’t been living under a rock. The term was originally coined at a Texas A&M economics conference, and it simply breaks down to doing the bare minimum at your job, instead of going above and beyond to progress. The concept itself doesn’t sound too trivial — as it’s an obvious response to burnout — which has been heavily spearheaded by Gen-Z who have taken an arguably clever approach to work smart, not hard. In fact, it’s this generation who have been at the forefront of this conversation, mostly through TikTok.
Their ultimate goal is to break cycles of toxic workflow behaviour that have followed generations – and it’s no wonder. A survey from workflow management platform Asana found that 84% of Gen Z reported experiencing burnout in the last year, compared to 63% of all workers who said they’ve felt burned out.
This sounds all good and well, but in my eyes, this is yet another idea that will clearly only be exclusively attainable for people with an abundance of privilege, and Black women are clearly not in this matrix.
Sure, I understand quiet quitting to be sort of a trauma response for people working beyond their physical and mental limits and receiving nothing in return. Gen-Z have clearly coined themselves as the generation that just won’t take any shit. Soft life only. And frankly, I agree that we deserve it. I even tried to attempt it myself: “I cannot come and kill myself…” I thought. But then I remembered, “…oh wait, I’m a Black woman.”
To me, being less than excellent has never been an option. I noticed that from a young age, for myself, and other girls that looked like me, anything that wasn’t quantifiable, or that was mildly subjective was measured by a different standard. The statistics show that the racial gap in education is very real. A YMCA poll in 2020 found that almost half (49%) Black students believed racism was the biggest barrier to academic attainment.
I then came to learn that as I grew older, the disparity of how my work and my contribution to society was valued, would also differ widely from my white peers, especially male white peers.
“You don’t have the same privileges as them, you have to work x10 harder than everyone else.” brutally honest words from my mother — a Black woman expressing a clear-cut premonition. These are words most of my Black friends, colleagues, and family members have likely heard from their own mothers too.
Camille, 27, is an Executive Assistant for a major entertainment company, and for her, quiet quitting has never felt like an option. “Frankly, as a Black woman, I’m just too scared to subscribe to that. I also identify as a high achiever and bought into the idea that hard work would pay off, and a degree would get me far, so here I am trying to force my way to success.” she adds: “If anything, I feel like I’m not doing enough because even when I feel like I’m going above & beyond, I’m still not getting the recognition or feeling valued. Instead of ‘quiet quitting’, I’m like ‘I can do more.”