Diary Of A Black Woman In A White World

By Diary Of A Black Woman In A White World

They Fired The Racist And Hired Me The Black Woman

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They Fired The Racist And Hired Me The Black Woman
Or how some white people are truly not racist
I was on maternity leave when I applied for a new job at a prestigious Fortune 500 company. Barely a few hours after I had sent in my online application, I was contacted by the Department of Human Resources. They told me that my qualifications were an excellent fit for the role and asked me for a bit of patience while they reviewed the numerous applications they had received. I was ecstatic. It was the first time in my life that I had received such a quick response for a job I was interested in.
A few weeks later, I was invited in for interviews. I met with the head of the team, Oliver, as well as two potential future colleagues, Brenda and Jack. The role was indeed exciting and involved rallying employees around the company’s purpose, vision, and strategy. It was an area of work where felt I could contribute to a lot as well as learn new things. I was deeply interested and motivated by the task at hand.
After a full day of interviews, I came back home excited and content. I believed that I performed well in discussions with the head of the team, Oliver, — even though he seemed distant, and potential future colleagues. The company said they would get back to me within two weeks and so I waited. Weeks turned into months and I still hadn’t heard back. I applied to other roles at other companies and started interviewing for a few of them, but if given a choice, it was that first initial company that I wanted to join.
I decided to write to Nancy from the HR department to understand why I hadn’t heard back. I thought to myself that maybe they’d selected someone else for the role, maybe I wasn’t a good enough fit. Nancy said she’d get back to me within a few days and she did. She explained that there had been some changes in the team and that the boss had been asked to leave. She said a new manager would start the following month and that they would re-initiate the recruitment process then. I trusted Nancy and held out from accepting other job offers until I heard back from her.
A few weeks later, I was re-invited for an interview — this time with the new boss, Ben. I liked his character. He was inspiring, entrepreneurial, curious, fun, and seemed at ease with me. The exact opposite of his predecessor. We spoke at length and even went overtime on the slot set aside for our interview. On my way back home that evening, I was overjoyed. I had a strong feeling that I would get the job, and I did. I joined the team a few weeks later and looked forward to this new journey in my career.
Months after joining, I heard my colleagues Brenda and Jack gossiping about Oliver, the former boss. I was curious and started asking them about their experience.
“Oh, he was a bully and psychologically harassed many people under him. In fact, we had two colleagues that left because he treated them badly. He also made derogatory comments about people of color. He said they were lazy, argumentative, and over-emotional. He said he couldn’t understand a word Africans said because they had thick accents”.
As I sat there listening to them, it suddenly dawned upon me why I had felt so uncomfortable in my interviews with Oliver. Something just never felt right.
Brenda and Jack went on to tell me that after the first set of interviews I had had, Oliver had not shortlisted me for the job. They had both shortlisted me but since he was the boss, he overruled their choice of candidate.
“We didn’t understand why he did that. He wasn’t even able to provide a robust reason as to why he didn’t want to hire you. We suspected it was because he is a racist”.
I looked at both my colleagues in surprise, realizing at that exact point in time how subtle racism can be. White people can hide their racism so well, you’d never ever be able to guess that they have a problem with engaging with a Black person. I had had a strange feeling when I’d met Oliver, but there was no way I could prove he was racist. Every day across the white corporate world, Black people are denied positions that they are qualified for because there is “a worm in the apple” or a racist in the company’s midst.
Brenda and Jack went on to explain that once Oliver was fired, they reached out to HR to lobby for me to get the job. It was around this same time that Nadia had received a message from me inquiring as to whether I was still being considered for the position.
So, this is how a got the job — an extraordinary stroke of “luck”. But things should not be this way. I should get the job because I am the best person for it, not because a racist was fired and nonracists lobbied for me to get it.
In the back of my head, I keep asking myself this question: how many Black people were turned away by Oliver because he did not like the color of their skin and did not want to work with a Black person?
This story taught me a few things: while there are definitely racists in companies, there are also people that aren’t. There are people that look at your skills and qualifications before looking at the color of your skin. Brenda and Jack were such people and it is also thanks to them that I got the job in the end.
But, there are also people that are the opposite of Brenda and Jack. They are racists and white supremacists and they are sometimes at the most senior levels of companies. While a company may be trying to be diverse and inclusive, these individuals are rowing in the opposite direction.
Companies can no longer just rely on an individual saying they are not racist — they also have to monitor and evaluate the actions of that individual closely, especially if they hold positions with a lot of power.
True diversity and inclusion will only come when companies consider and take concrete action to make anti-racism a priority within and outside their walls. Until then, some sly racist foxes will slide under the radar and allow white supremacy to thrive in organizations.
Thank you for reading my perspective.

 

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Diary Of A Black Woman In A White World

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