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.

I am a young black woman in America

How many people can say they know what it’s like to be a young black woman? We all face obstacles as an individual but, there is a common struggle that black women face in America. Watching the protests and riots break out in neighborhoods where people look like me caused me pay attention to the black community in America.

First I noticed the difference between a black woman and a black man in America. Most of the cases of injustice that I’ve seen has been centered around black men. It is too often that I see a black man gunned down or arrested on the news. This led me to wonder, are black women equally affected in the injustice?  I dug deeper and realized that black woman may be the ones that hurt the most. Think about the tears in a mother’s eyes when she comes home from work to a home where her son will never sleep again. Then I thought about the wife of a husband incarcerated, struggling check to check to make ends meet and keep her children off the streets.

Black women are the thread that keeps the black community strong, so when black men hurt we hurt with them. We also hurt with one another. I remember looking at the little girl with fair skin at the age of five and feeling a flame burn in my soul because I was darker. The media taught me at a young age that fair skin was better and I believed it. I would see white women painted in a positive light and perceived as beautiful. She was confident, gracious, and intelligent. She was the person to be and I resented her because I could never be her. With time and education, I learned to love myself and was motivated to teach other young black girls to love themselves.

Being a young black woman in America is not a curse, it is a gift. God created everyone unique and different in many ways, so we must love one another and ourselves. Once I learned my worth  I became honored to know what it is like to be a young black woman in America.