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.

 

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41 comments

  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.

    • 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.

  4. It was really bad attitude by this company to show you, how they treat people there. I think, you shall be happy not to get hired in such a place with a really strange leader. You are much too good to work for those people.

  5. Wow! Your story horrifies me, but sadly doesn’t surprise me as much as I wish it did. The person who interviewed you has clearly got her own issues, and treated you appallingly in your so called interview. You had a lucky escape I think. You should not have to be around that kind of energy and clouded thinking. Onwards and upwards for you. For her, perhaps not sadly.

  6. I hear you, and i saw that personal anguish. If it were “me”and that professional, Id think of the gain at the end, rather to take it personal so much. At least to know that “we” need to see the light in the middle of things. Just to know we took everything in sight. Yes we have lived since and still in a world of bigotry and discrimination. It takes guts, to take everything. Just to know, you got to two rounds, and still come out undefeated in the end. That my friend, is to be a “New Yorker”. although i have not been in New York.

      • We cannot change bigotry and discrimination in this planet. The only thing we can is ourselves, and at least try and help the others to enlighten and illuminate what we can for them. “its not better person”, its the altitude of their attitude. I am hoping i did help you in some way.

  7. Rayven: You are precious as are we all, even those who are truly misguided, in the eyes of Great Spirit. I thought that within my lifetime, we would see this hatred die. I’m sorry it hasn’t. I still pray ( and act) so that it will. I’m sure that if you revealed the name of the company, many of us would be happy to “refuse them” our business as a natural consequence of their discriminatory behavior.

    We cannot leave the decisions and retribution up to the lawmakers, they are corrupt. But we, the people, we can stand together and make change happen.

    Thank you so much for stopping by #formidableWoman today.

    Go get another, better job, and never look back!

    Peace,

    • Thank you for your wisdom. Growing up in Long Island, NY race wasn’t much of an issue as it is in other parts of the country. I realized that we need to be exposed to more places and cultures to plant a seed of change and progress in the world.

      I use to be scared of people who appearance discriminatory but I realized that the scariest people like that are the one’s who are responsible for employing and governing our communities.

      I’ve also seen men promoted for position and manage women who are more qualified then they are.

      I have hope for the future but we need to have more open conversations.

  8. I really was always led to believe that the North was so above such ridiculous prejudices. Hmmm…we get a really bad rap in the South. Frankly, on the flip side, I wouldn’t want to work for such a person. When I was only 17 I applied for a job at a local upscale department store at the mall. The man asked me if I ever smoked. I said no. He persisted, “Oh come on now. I find that hard to believe.” I assured him I had not, to which he made a disapproving face and told me about their lie detector test policy. I am so thankful i didn’t get that job, so many people in charge that have no compassion, no objectivity and no right to be doing what they do. Much luck to you in all things in this crazy upside down world.

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