Hello guys, gals, and non-binary pals, my name is Alan Henry, author of Seen, Heard, and Paid: The New Work Rules for the Marginalized, and I’ll be honest with all of you: this is not going to be a newsletter about The Slap. It will, however, be a newsletter about respectability, and about the images—the masks—we build of ourselves, out of necessity, to put in front of the people that we work with. It’s also going to be about what happens when those masks come down, and people get a view of who we are underneath, for better or for worse.
Before that though, I have to ask: have you preordered my book? It’s up for pre-order now, everywhere books are sold! (Including Bookshop and Indiebound, so you can support local bookstores!) Ask your favorite book store to carry it, and while you’re at it, see if they’d like me to stop in to sign a few copies? I’d be happy to if I can get to where you are.
Now then, let’s get into it. I am infinitely bored of the slap discourse, because it’s tinged with…a lot of things that I could get into here, but honestly, I’m sure you’re done hearing about it too. But I do want to talk about one specific reaction that resonated with me, largely because it’s one I’m used to hearing, and one that I grew up assuming was The Way Things Were: that somehow in order to succeed you had to present yourself in a certain manner that was palatable to authority figures.
Of course, what I didn’t realize until later in life was that A: those authority figures are usually the most privileged among us (e.g., white men, in most spaces, so the whole idea is an artifact of white supremacy) and B: that kind of self-moderating (dare I call it self-censoring?) has a name: respectability.