The Only Black Woman In The Office: 'I Am The Only One -- Again'
"I am the only one. Again," the young black woman says, staring straight into the camera. And so begins a new, fictional web series about a black woman named Racey Jones working in an all-white office in corporate America, circa 2012.
The first episode of the "The Unwritten Rules" shows Jones trying to shrug off race-tinged comments from blonde co-workers: "I love your hair. It's....so whimsical," one says. Another, upon learning that Jones attended Brown University, declares how nice it is that she received a scholarship.
While TV shows like "The Office" and "30 Rock" will sometimes poke light-hearted fun at white people's ignorance and insensitivity to black co-workers, it's still rare on television to see such scenes depicted so candidly from the black person's point of view. Indeed, this season's hit series, HBO's "Girls," has come in for heavy criticism for failing to include a black character.
While YouTube series are generally seen as the province of struggling artists, some major talent is involved in this web series, released every Wednesday on YouTube. So far, four have debuted, with the first episode getting a little more than 18,000 page views, the most of any episode thus far. The series' creator is Kim Williams, author of the 2004 book, "40 Hours and an Unwritten Rule: The Diary of a N***er, Negro, Colored, Black, African-American Woman." Asha David, who plays Jones, appeared in the critically-acclaimed, 2011 film, "The Pariah."
The web series revolves around everyday workplace scenarios but filters them through the prism of race. Jones, for instance, brings in her lunch -- soul food dishes, like oxtail -- and her co-workers make her feel like she is an oddball. Jones is also forced to confront the prospect of having to do the lion's share of her white boss' work. At one point, one of her colleagues talks into the camera, and says, "She doesn't seem ghetto at all."
Earlier this year, a web viral meme, "S*** People Say," led to web designer Franchesca Ramsey releasing "S*** White Girls Say ... To Black Girls." The video garnered more than 9 million page views and featured mocking comments from white characters who said: "I think what I like most about them is that they're not like stereotypical black people.... It's almost as if they're not black."
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Dan Fastenberg has more than a decade of experience working as a journalist. Most recently he was a reporter with TIME Magazine covering politics with analyst Mark Halperin. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America. Follow Dan on Twitter. Email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Add Dan to your Google+ circles.more...