Updated: Apr 20
My name’s Clinton Davis, and I’m inspired by the inspired. Surround yourself with people who make you better, not worse. Doing things like that led to this, my first blog with BITM.
Right off the bat, in the summarized words of the very interesting Canadian Poet and Author George Elliot Clarke, if you see something in my tales that seems grammatically incorrect, it’s ‘cause I wanted it that way.
I was a rapper since the age of 16, a poet and painter before that. I probably reached further than most small-cap rappers in the field, made more money, sold more albums. But, this light-skinned’d mixed-boy who’d dropped his second mixtape in October ‘08 then left (fled?) the city of Toronto in April ‘09 - a month before Drake dropped his first album “So Far Gone” in May ‘09 thought he’d be back - but I stayed out here, and here I am. Other than this paragraph of reflection, it’s never helpful to dwell on the “what-ifs” of life.
Like most rebels, musicians, actors - I was a bartender or fine-dining server, which led to management positions. Two years after I moved to New Brunswick, it led to a management position at CasinoNB. Here’s where my first story begins..
Managing Casino New Brunswick
Disclaimer: CasinoNB is not owned by the same company that owned it when I worked there. No one in management that I worked with is still there in my department, and I have no iidea what the Casino New Brunswick of 2021 is like.
Managing at Casino New Brunswick was the nightmare I had to endure before I went into business for myself. I’m thankful for the corporate training it gave me, and sorry to the people that cold-style of corporate management I learned (combined with every a-hole boss I had myself learned from growing up in the 6ix) pushed away. Let me tell you right now, there’s a lot going on in this article as I drop hints at stories that will be future blogs, and do some self exploration.
I got my position as a manager in Early 2011. Well, I should say I got my position after two months of being a part time server in their banquets department, because no one would hire me. I was a smart, accomplished in my industry Black-Looking-Man in NB with a recent criminal record from a major DUI (that until today, I may have only told 4 people about) - and, amidst amazing credentials, other than one Black Chef I will always be mostly grateful for and a great white guy named Sheldon, no one would give me a shot. Sure, I got lots of gigs as a rapper who went on stage and used the N-word in my songs (not against that, btw). We did 50 paid shows in one year in 2010, but, almost no one would give me a JOB in 2011. Anyways, I told the Casino on my first day that I was going to be in Management, and as soon as a position opened up I was going to apply for it. And I did.
My style of management was that of a 90’s corporate “Firm, but fair” kind of boss (I’ve grown so much since then - thank you COVID-era). I treated every business I managed as my own, imagining if I didn’t succeed I’d go bankrupt. I tried to over-push people to deliver results, out of fear of losing my own position, and also out of the idiom all People of Colour learn in their youth, come on, say it with me, “You gotta work twice as hard in life to get half the respect of those around you.” and in this story it definitely rings true.
Okay, let me start.
I was the ‘Cocktail Waitress’ Manager (while there I changed the term to “Beverage Server”, but I think they changed it back). That was my designated department of the 5 branches of Food & Beverage at the Casino, but we all managed it all. I managed a team of 8-12 women, which was a great buffer for the two Salon|Spas we’d later own. I managed these intelligent, quirky, fun, sometimes dramatic go-getters in their too-tight dresses. I dealt with the floors and the drunk cocky card players where the money flowed freely, the addicted piss-in-your-slot-machine chairs slots gamblers patrons (it was a bigger problem than you’d like to believe), and more. My official designation was Supervisor - insulting in itself. I also spent half of my week there alone depending on the shift, managing the Buffet, the Restaurant, the Beverage Servers, the Banquet Hall, and room Service for the Hotel. I coordinated between the Front and Back of House, and I’d later take on monitoring payroll, and recording weekly F&B revenue numbers as well. I trained, I hired, I fired. I was a manager.
Racial Wage Gaps
I agreed to a salaried position for 40hrs/week after unsuccessfully attempting to negotiate for more than they offered me. I’d later learn that others in the same management level as myself were offered more when they started, and got raises while I was there, while I never saw an extra penny. Three white people, and me. Strike One. (sometimes women DO earn more than men when melanin is involved). Was I bad at my job? I don’t know, ask me what my co-managers are doing with their life now, and ask me how I am today. I can’t recall a week at the Casino I wasn’t scheduled for less than 54 hours, and I ate it. I lived there. I was afraid I’d never find another job (thankfully that was my last “job”, I’ve been self-employed for 8 years, “praises to the most high”, so I guess we good).
“Good morning, Moncton!”
Seniors. God bless them. My morning shifts were very early, cause like the 24hr crypto-market that’s all the buzz, gambling doesn't like to sleep. I’d either start at 5:45am (on days I didn’t finish at 4am), and spend some time by the coffee machines on the main floor in my fancy suits, trying to wake up. One morning, while sipping my first sips of coffee, a man in his 70’s came up to me and struck up a conversation. Words and chit-chat took place that I’ll never remember, until he looked at me with the kindest, most sincere face and said “And my don’t you just feel so lucky that you were allowed to come to Canada and live here.” …...... Now, while I suck at Poker, I’ve got one helluva poker face. But that morning at 5:45am with little to no sleep really tested me. I’m a FIFTH generation Canadian. My blood’s been on this land longer than most settlers, and I know my roots all the way back to my very prestigious, yet very.. shameful family line in Britain (more on THAT in another blog). Strike Two. It took every ounce of my being to not shatter the coffee cup I was holding my hand. And through gritted teeth I managed to say to the patron. “Why yes.. I do feel lucky to be in Canada.. excuse me, I have somewhere to be.” Ya, so that one’s not ON the Casino, it just happened there.
Insert slightly comedic incident. My first month on the job, I walked into the kitchen and came face to face with a stranger on the Kitchen side of line, who’d been off work for a while and in time would become a dear friend of mine, but at the time, he was a Middle Eastern man named “Mo”. He immediately yelled out in the kitchen full of completely white people with a smile on his face “Yes, my Nigga! Welcome to the Casino!” or something like that.... Time did freeze in that Kitchen for a minute as everyone stared ... and when it resumed, I said that thing bosses say, first “Don’t you EVER call me that name again” and, “I need you in my office, now!”. Fast Forward, he’s not from here either, understood why I got so upset, and never did it again, not in front of OTHERS at least.
Note: It’s not commonly known that like certain communities of Black people (and definitely not ALL Black people), certain groups of Middle Easterners and Persians also consider a sort of, term of endearment to call their brothers their “Sand N*ggas”, but get equally offended if a non-POC uses the term.
Let’s Get Him
I worked my ass off while other managers became besties with the staff. I reduced loss, improved revenue, held meetings, and all the other stuff bosses ‘should’ do. However, the F&B Director was on vacation, and a co-manager assumed management. My problematic co-worker had it out for me. One night my performance was off, why? My future wife’s father had just died a horrible death from one of the worst kinds of cancers there is, pancreatic. I wasn’t sleeping, but I showed up to work, took a slightly longer break off the floor than I should’ve to eat, and I got written up for it. When I explained, I still got the write up. The current director sat there stoic, while my co-worker sat there with a smirk on her face. If only the term Karen had existed back then. Strike Th-- oh forget the strikes,there’s gonna be more than three.
What kind of worker was I, you’re surely wondering by now? Well, when I finally decided to quit, two co-managers quit right before me with zero notice. Vanished. I knew I was leaving to take ownership of my now previous franchise. Did I disappear like the others? No. I decided to give one months notice instead of the standard two I’d planned, so they’d have time to find, replace and train three managers.
I’ll never forget the week we got a NEW director. A tall, red-headed, fancy, corporate big-shot from Ontario, from a town North of Toronto, strutting into New Brunswick. While he made quick friends with the other managers, took them for lunches, shared jokes, hung out in the office, he had a “look” in his eye for me, seemed to talk to me with disdain, seemed a little uncomfortable/disgusted when I walked into a room, and was very impatient with me. I couldn’t call the race card back 2011, no one would care if I did. It was later suggested to me by an employee that my co-workers talked badly about me the first week he started, which likely reinforced any stereotypes he’d already had. What he didn’t realize, was that the people that badmouthed me, constantly badmouthed him in front of me! But I wasn’t a snitch, and that’s what “shit talkers” do. I regret to say I idolized him for a little bit, tried to impress him. Looking back now I know it was out of a desire to prove to him that I wasn’t what I felt he thought I was, talk about stockholm syndrome.
“You bangin’ the staff?”
Let me start this by saying if you worked at CasinoNB, with it’s 600+ employees at the time, you were aware that 1/6th of those people were all sleeping with each other. Whether interdepartmentally, same department, management to staff. It was kinda wild, and nobody said anything. In fact some marriages came from it. One day, the new Director took me into the room with one of my higher-up managers and started to grill me. Apparently rumours were floating around that I was sleeping with one of the Beverage Servers. “Are you sleeping with an employee? This is not going to be good for you if you are.” .. “What? (X) and I are very good friends. We’ve become good friends over the years. We get each other. She’s an excellent worker. But I have a partner, and so does she.” .. “You didn’t answer our question. You’re supposed to be a professional. I’m not sure how this is going to look for your employment here.” .. “No! I am NOT sleeping with this person!” .. “Well, we’re going to be watching you, these rumours better go away, or this could be a problem.”
In my mind: “Thank you, once again, for judging me differently than everyone else, and making a problem for me out of a non-existent issue, while turning a blind eye to the rampant behaviour being exhibited by 100 others. It’s okay, boss, don’t worry, the Black guy isn’t banging the White Girl. You don’t have to save anyone. The Black guy isn’t doing what everyone else is doing. Don’t worry. Your women are safe.” That was almost my last day there, but again, I had to stay, or believed I had to stay, and keep eating their horse-shit.
What’s My Point?
What is my point? It’s a blog. Am I just venting? My point is there always has been, and continues to be a lack of equal opportunity in employment in corporations and companies in New Brunswick. Even though I GOT the job, followed every rule, played by the book, I was paid less, treated like less, held under a microscope, and judged harsher for any dip in performance.
In the end, this is an apology to the people I managed too hard, people who were just like the person I was trying to hide from them, the kind of guy that got a DUI and kept it secret, the guy that had to breathe into a breathalyzer just to get to work after retiring from two years as a figurative Rock Star here in NB (another story for another day). It’s also a big FU to those who stomped on me while I was there.
So again, what IS my point? My point is that there were lots of GREAT people at the Casino, many of whose names I can’t even remember, and others whom I’m still friends with and care about. I would say I never got any impression of racism from any of the 100+ people I helped manage, if I’m being honest. Only those parallel to, or above me. But racism, prejudice, stereotypes, and aggression (I refuse to use the word “microaggressions” anymore) … hurt, permanently. It hurts at home, on the streets, on the playground, and in the workplace. That’s why I remember these instances more than any others during my years there. These experiences have been burned into my psyche, and until we can learn to speak out, and fight against inequalities and unfair treatment we see on the job, it’s going to continue to hurt many other newcomers to this province as well. It’s time shit changed.