Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Being Black in Rhode Island

"Rhode Island is the third-worst state for Black Americans to reside in." -The Worst States for Black Americans, 24/7 Wall St.

Being a Brown Girl From Boston, I experienced my fair share of experiencing the pros and cons of being a Black American living in Boston, Massachusetts. I am a proud Mattapanian born and bred in a two-parent household in which homeownership, savings, investment, and the community were the top priority within the culture of people and within the community, which was predominantly Black.

Currently, I am a Brown Girl who resides in Providence, Rhode Island. Let that sink in for a moment. I relocated to Rhode Island in 2011 for love. My husband relocated to Providence, RI, from Boston a few years before I decided to relocate for my husband and marriage. I also asked my husband why he moved to Providence, RI, of all places? You just don't wake up one day and say, hey, I think I will move to Providence today? No, no, no!!

Rhode Island is a state, not an island, nor Long Island in New York. Many people are confused between Rhode Island and Long Island. Rhode Island is very tiny! Many people are related here, never left this state, and have no plans to leave. My husband and I are definitely going here very, very soon. Rhode Island is located in between Massachusetts and Connecticut. You can travel in and out of Rhode Island in less than 45 minutes, so don't blink, or you'll miss the entire state. It is cold, freezing during the wintertime. I am currently rocking my pj's and long socks as I type this post. Rhode Island offers less than 1% of what I want and need.

On the flip side, little Rhody is where I birth Brown Girl From Boston, uncovered my FLYness, and where I get to live with the love of my life (temporarily). Besides all the romantic stuff, Rhode Island is not a place for Black people to live. Rhode Island's full name is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Don't worry. I'll let you reread the name of the state over and over until it registers in your brain. I feel like a runaway slave because I am always finding an exit strategy to get off the plantation before I get caught up.

Rhode Island is the third-worst state for Black Americans to live in. Let me repeat this statement, Rhode Island is the third-worst state for Black Americans to live in. Here are some facts that will have you clutching your hidden pearls. According to

There are only 6.4% of Blacks who reside in Rhode Island
29.4% of Blacks in Rhode Island own homes (10th lowest in the United States)
Black incarceration rate: 1,884 per 100,00 people (11th lowest in the United States)
The black unemployment rate: 16.0% (6th highest in the United States) compared to 9.2% of all people (2nd highest)
Black households earned just 62.2% of the white median household income. Black Rhode Island households made just 52.5% of white families.
More than 23% of Black Rhode Islanders lived in poverty last year, while less than 11% of White residents live in poverty.

Every day I wake up in Providence, Rhode Island, I pray and meditate on the day I can wave goodbye for good to Rhode Island. Being Black in Rhode Island can exhaust your energy, finances, and hope for humanity. I have had many personal and professional struggles while living in Rhode Island but slowly overcoming them.

I have taken so many losses, such as being rejected for over 150 jobs despite being a Licensed Master Social Worker, having a diverse professional background experience, and doing well on job interviews. It takes a toll on your mind, body, and soul when you get rejected from jobs you know you are overqualified for. The majority of the jobs I had in Rhode Island I have been overqualified for and worked for incompetent superiors who barely had an associates degree but questioned my education status on a day to day basis because "I am too young to have a master's degree and a diverse background of professional experience" and "How did you get your master's degree because I don't have one"  My master's degree didn't come easy especially being a graduate student with at The University of Southern Mississippi where I was one of two black in my master's program.

I have dealt with my fair share of racist supervisors in which I had to make complaints to the EEOC/Civil Rights department due to discriminatory treatment on the job. Living and working in Rhode Island, I have been the only Black person in the entire organization. Do you understand how lonely, awkward and uncomfortable it is to be the only Black person in your whole organization? Most of the non-profit agencies I've worked for are serving communities that are diverse, low-income, and marginalized. At the same time, the workers talked over their heads, down on them in a superior and authoritative tone. I have witnessed significant and challenging working Black people get terminated from a job due to "downsizing." Still, a few weeks later, the supervisor brings in an incompetent and lazy individual who doesn't have a strong work ethic or can't operate a copier.  Mind you, this person is usually someone's cousin or a friend who needs a job. When nepotism is keeping it real.

Living in Rhode Island as a Black person is depressing, oppressive, and damn right unhealthy. They have sundown towns where you hope and pray you are in and out of there by a specific timeframe unless you want to be harassed and profiled by the police. You have to check people and their ignorance because some think you don't belong in certain areas due to your skin color. Now, mind you, this is New England in which people have been brainwashed to believe it is liberal, progressive, and justice for all. Stop your F'n lying. New England operates on a covert, systemic, and institutional racism system.  Look at gentrification, workplace discrimination, the high rental property where people of color reside, and low pay for people of color in professional job positions. Gentrification isn't for the people of color; gentrification is set up for people who abandoned their homes in the 70s and 80s (White Flight) to come back to their original communities, drive the property taxes up to marginalize people out to the suburbs. Gentrification is not for the marginalized people, it is for people whose jobs are in the city, and they are tired of that long commute.

Being a Black person in Rhode Island is exhausting. The Black community in Rhode Island, especially Providence, is complex, complicated, and not welcoming. Yeah, I said it. You want honesty and truth, right? I will not be politically correct, and I am cool with that and losing Brownie points. The Black community in Providence has "designated leaders" whose primary concern isn't to uplift and organize the Black community. Many of these "leaders" exploit the people, and many are still sleeping. The same few "leaders" are always in the limelight, all up in the videos and talking the same ole same ole nonsense with no solutions nor results.

Some of the organizations here don't give the "outsiders/transplants" a chance to bring fresh and innovative ideas because "they don't know you" or "you haven't paid your dues."  How the hell will I pay my dues when you don't speak to me or get a chance to know me? Nope, I'll pass.  I will volunteer my time and services where it is needed and wanted. Some "so-called" leaders are so damn power hungry that they aren't thinking about mentoring the younger generations for greatness. They don't know how to organize communities or events because everywhere is doing the same damn thing instead of coming together to better the community. 

I have seen many of my people get thrown underneath the bus and run over by 'wannabe leaders" who don't have the passion or commitment to the community. Many of these leaders thrive off power, titles, picture taking, sitting on various boards, and being in the limelight because they lack power and control within their own life. They don't want to know or understand the communities' struggle or help them thrive because they are not asking for the community's input or implementing them. When you organize the communities by listening and making actual changes, your community can grow and thrive. Stop placing your personal needs and agenda over the communities needs and plan. It is not about you, Boo!

In conclusion, living in Rhode Island as a Black woman is exhausting and oppressive. If you are Black and looking to restart your life, don't think about living in Rhode Island unless you received a full scholarship from a College or University here. I have met some beautiful souls who have supported me, my husband, and Brown Girl From Boston. I have built a tribe of Sistah friends, mentors, and friends who understand my frustration living in Rhode Island. We know that our season is ending soon in Rhody, and I am counting down the days until we can throw the peace sign and get the hell out of Rhody. 

I want to thank each of you for reading this post. I finally had the courage and insight to put my wounds on display. Whoever is reading this and if you are going through a similar struggle, remember you are not crazy, worthy, and enough. You are not alone, and this too shall pass. You don't have to deal with abuse, drama, and dysfunction unless you choose. We have choices! Rhode Island isn't for everyone, and nowhere is perfect. As long as you have imperfect people, you will have inadequate places and systems designed to hold people down. No one can't hold you down but YOU. You can always work your way around systems that are designed for you.

Love and light!

P.S.: If you find yourself in an unfair and unjust situation or need support, please feel free to contact me. I am open to helping anyone, whether it is resources to file an EEOC, look for another job, or start your business. I have plenty of experience to help guide and support you. My direct email is


Anonymous said...

WOW! Thank you for your story! It’s a shame that this ignorance is still happening, in 2022… being Judged and treated unfairly because the color of your skin! Seems like RI is intimidated by strong black educated people lol …I wouldn’t want to live there anyway, thy are stuck in time and will never move forward! With all that negativity and hatred.. I’m sure the whole state has high blood pressure and wrinkles. Our Brown skin don’t crack! We know how to overcome whatever situation comes our way! Stay strong and relocate to another state where people are normal…I feel sorry for them if thy ever had to leave RI and relocate 🤔 something to think about, there way of thinking and treating people! Wouldn’t be accepted… PeriodT ….. I pray for RI didn’t know it was prejudice

Anonymous said...

Wow you broke down Rhode Island to a Tee. As a native Rhode Islander I can agree With your sentiments. The old arrogant mindset and non progressive culture needs to change. Until then look elsewhere where there’s natural human decency, progression, good Health peace and happiness!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post. I was thinking about it but as a solo mama born of two beautiful and liberated black girls and bred in Brooklyn and a doc - I think I will pass.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I was reading this and wondered are you sure you are not living in Houston Texas. They still have signs in towns that say *igger if you can read this Run!
I have been refused service and jobs.
My spirit is broken and as a native New Yorker I am counting the days to get back to civilization aka The Metropolitan.
Thank you for sharing your story. I can stop thinking something is wrong with me!

Anonymous said...

Hello young lady I feel and hearyour pain, as a 58 yrs old being in the military 10 yrs trucking for 28 lived new mexico is very similar to your oppression in RI Colorado was just as bad after my my divorce to my white wife and living in Ocala FL several years , I find it unreal moving back to Mississippi you can email or text me 352-525-5348

Anonymous said...

I'm from Boston, live in Rhode Island and currently looking to relocate. I have had similar experiences as you at work. To get a job you most certainly have to know somebody. I have also witnessed "automation" layoffs and a new group hired. I worked for myself for many years but when I got a new job and met all my white coworkers I felt deeply disappointed. Like everyone is white?! One Latina and one Black girl now. I'm getting away from this state. I have a license in insurance and I'm taking my talents elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Where are the black professionals in Rhode Island? Where do they chill at?