I think BIPOC should complain to management more.
"I want to speak to your manager" is associated with entitled middle-aged white women, but I've been daring myself to complain when mistreated for a while now, and I recommend other who are unused to entitlement to do the same.
I trained myself to speak up more because
1) sometimes I can't just swallow the cost of someone else’s mistake, and
2) sometimes I can tell that people are treating me badly because they expect to be powerless and take it.
There's an art to complaining, I think. I'm normally a 20% tipper, so no tip from me means something personally even if the server will think I’m just another stingy POC. I know I'll be dismissed if I come across as an "Angry Black Woman," so I try to stay calm and factual and modest in my expectations. I tend to apologize if I do show anger, if I inconvenience anyone, or if I got something wrong. Heck, I even use the Sandwich Method for my strongly worded emails. Begin with please and positives, and end with thank you and gratitude.
In general, I try to be understanding and patient with the folks who serve me because I've been there. I try to aim my anger away from those who didn’t cause it, because one shouldn’t blame employees when the company is at fault. Even if the employee is at fault, maybe it’s due to the company underpaying them and overworking them. Maybe, probably, certainly, it’s a waste of time to want “revenge” on a specific employee. Sometimes, all you can ask for is an acknowledge of harm and a refund on a ruined experience.
Sometimes, I can hear in their voices as customer service reps calm down as they speak with me. I have had an issue that I would like corrected, but I’m not angry. Is a refund possible? Often, I rate BIPOC in service industry highly for doing their best even if they've let me down. I want it to be clear that anger is unusual for me, and that it means something.
When I feel like I’ve only been angry at a necessary institution, sometimes I go out of my way to note the things it did correctly, people who’ve been helpful. Instead of focusing on the one mean landlord, I’m cheerful to the rest of that staff—almost bought them donuts for V-Day, but got too busy. I’m trying to use more of those “Awesome service!” cards at the hospital. One time, I emailed Lyft to correct my rating from four stars to five because my finger had slipped, the driver was a person of color, and we’d actually had a pleasant conversation.
I hope one of these actions have made someone’s day.
A anecdote: I once saved $200 dollars on a flight I had to have changed—and this wasn't even their error! It was my error, and I told them so, and thanked them for their grace and flexibility. I think they assumed I was someone important because I said something. I think about this interaction when I think about the difference between privileges, rights, and disadvantages. I think my pseudo-posh accent gives me an edge via phone. I’m Sorry to Bother You, but I’d like…
Another anecdote: I wanted to give a business a 1-star reviews on Google maps, so I became a "Local Guide" who rates lots of businesses to demonstrate how rare my dissatisfaction was. I give out 5-stars like they’re going out of style, so you can see how rare my complaints really are. Google has given me free socks and deals on movie tickets for my reviews, and I have to laugh because I only started reviewing after this white-passing Amtrak employee tried to punish me for being late by making everyone else late.
That microaggression has been safety exorcised! ✨ My anger has been sublimated into stars and data. Justice has restored me to my default state, of quiet chipperness with rights intact. 🌟
At position 0, I walk through this world yet smiling. At position +1, I walk above the earth in gratitude and acknowledgement. But at position -1, I hope to singe the ground with my footsteps. No black girl who comes after me should have to suffer this treatment in the future.
Because that’s what happens when the ones who aren’t expected to speak up, do speak up; it becomes expected. At some point in the future, nobody will expect me—expect us—to be powerless and take it.