I Wasn’t One of Them

I never thought that it would affect me.

When I first came to Buffalo, NY, I would vaguely hear about its history of division and discrimination.

Most of my peers on campus were from the New York City area so I never felt like I was far away from home. Even though cases of discrimination goes on in Long Island, people are a little more liberal, so I never felt threatened by anyone from another race.

One day I learned that being a minority in Buffalo has its adversity. I applied for a retail position at the Galleria Mall and I was excited because, I was confident that I would get the job.

I ironed by best attire and headed to the interview with high hopes. I prayed before I walked into the store and noticed that there was a lady who appeared to be the manager waiting by the registrar.

She walked me to the office so we could start the interview.  She started asking me questions about school and telling me about her experience working in New York City and the cool people she met. It was kind of weird that she talked about herself a lot but, I didn’t mind.

Then she started to get a little more personal. She began to ask me about my family. I was hesitant to answer but, I answered the questions anyways.

“Do you have a father?”

“What about a mom?”

“Did you all grow up together?”

“Why wasn’t your father around?”

At this point I grew uncomfortable so I tried to change the subject. I asked her if she wanted to see my resume so I could talk more about my credential but, she declined my offer.

She said that she wanted to know more about me. She then asked me if I had an internship. When I told her no she suggested that I focus on that rather than apply for the job. A part of me thought that she was genuinely concerned until she started talking comparing her life decisions to mine bragging about her days working in New York and what she accomplished in the past.

At this point I knew that this interview was a disaster and I was sure that I would not get the job. A part of me wanted to tell her that I thought that she was out of line and that her questions were unprofessional but, I stuck it out.

She started asking me questions about when the store was founded and how it began. I felt ashamed that I didn’t know the answer until I realized that she didn’t know the answer either. She pulled up the company’s website and read the answers to her questions off of the computer screen.

After a long 20 minutes of being interrogated she told me that she didn’t think that I was a good fit for the company. I walked out of the interview feeling inferior and did not make eye contact with the employees whose eyes were glued to me when I walked out.

I knew deep down I wasn’t going to get the job from the moment I stepped into the store because I didn’t see anyone who looked like me. I stuck through it and hoped for the best despite my intuition.

Maybe I can be the one that adds diversity here. Maybe I can be that person who can close that gap, I thought to myself but, the reality is, we have a long way to go. I was qualified for the job, I talked well, and I was prepared but, that wasn’t enough.

I wasn’t one of them.

If you ever experience employment discrimination of any kind you can contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for more information.

To share your story you can contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “I Wasn’t One of Them

  1. Those questions are absolutely illegal to ask during an interview. Unfortunately, there is little recourse in this situations, because a complaint to the labor board would only result in an administrative record; since there are no witnesses, it ends up being your word compared to hers…which sucks, because the truth won’t be known.

    I’m sorry this happened to you.

    1. Thank you. Things happens for a reason and I got a chance to see what a lot of other experience all over. I am thankful for my education. I graduate in two weeks and that’s something no one can take from me.

  2. I am blessed to have worked in organisations where hiring leaders / HR / etc are trained to ask the right questions and to know that those questions asked of you during your awful experience are not permitted. I am sorry this happened to you and am glad that you were brave enough to share this.

  3. Sorry to hear of your experience. And you’re way too kind to her, she was no lady. As an aside, my parents were thinking of moving to Buffalo when I was younger. The problem with these cretins is, the more educated and intelligent you are, the more they will hate you. And instead of seeing this as a learning experience (personally, I’m very much able to learn from my juniors) to get a fresh outlook from a younger employee, they overcompensate by bragging. Love the idea of sending another minority in to record the interview.

      1. I liked it, what little I saw of it. The part about graduating, I felt that way about where we lived in Germany when I graduated high school. But that place was really bigoted. Still is. At least we get to see the world. These people are stuck in their ways. Is my philosophy. On a good day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s