Jenn M. Jackson Shares Racism She Experienced at Orange County Theme Park

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"You ever see an elephant fly?"
An African-American woman has penned a heartfelt essay on the racism she experienced at an Orange County theme park.

Yeah, I can only think of two theme parks also.

She mentioned she had loved the company brand since childhood.

Yeah, I can only think of one brand like that also.

Her name is Jenn M. Jackson, and she wrote "It Happened to Me: I Was Punished for My White Co-Worker's Racism" for xojane.com.

The beginning sets the tone:

Graduating from USC with a degree in industrial engineering never could have prepared me for the racism I would face living in Orange County, CA.

Being 22, the only person of color on her team and the rare African-American with an engineering degree at the company, Jackson was originally treated special, and she lapped it up.

But the good feelings changed after an older, white male peer, about 60, made jokes to her about "cholos." Then, shooting the shit alone with her in the office one day, he mentioned how things were different in the park back in the old days.

"'Africans'--like yourself--they would never have been allowed to work front of house," she quotes him as saying. "They had to stay in the kitchens." Her "corn rolls" (which actually weren't corn rolls) never would have been allowed either, he supposedly mentioned.

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xojane.com
Jenn M. Jackson
Jackson kept it together long enough to escape to a restroom, where she cried. After she told her husband, mothers and others about the encounter, she was told to suck it up, keep her head down and keep working hard, which Jackson says she did.

A few weeks later, she says she overhead some ladies talking near the office when one mentioned she had auditioned for a television show, where she had gotten "all BET," singing an Erykah Badu song and being very "ghetto." Thinking back to the advice of loved ones, Jackson says, "I just swallowed it and kept working."

But while discussing another issue in the office weeks later with her superior, an older white lady, Jackson says she began crying uncontrollably. She told her boss what happened, and while the supervisor shrugged off what the older white man said as being "old school" thinking, she vowed to contact Employee Relations.

Jackson says she was told the matter was taken care of--and that things she had said before were also discussed, without her knowing what those things were. The man in question seemed to continue working without a care, although he never brought up cholos again.

She would work the next two years closely with her boss, who wanted to know how to do all the basics of Jackson's job. Next she says she received performance evaluations that stated she had poor relationship skills--despite having received soaring reviews before. She eventually left the company, although even that proved difficult because, she claims, she received less-than-stellar recommendations.

Jackson's conclusion (although you really should read the whole piece for the full context):

As America becomes more diverse, good 'ol boys like my male peer will inevitably fade away. But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't at least try to educate them a bit before they do.

It's a world of something-or-other, that kiddie ride tells us.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!



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