It’s been a long time…I KNOW. Not much has changed-still looking for work, which demands so much of my time-still getting rejected, but this time I had to write about it.
This time was personal-or was it racial?
Recently, I interviewed with a well known literacy educator who purports to have a passion for teaching literacy skills to the underserved (read: poor, black, brown) elementary school children.
In fact, she teaches wealthy, mostly white students to do this.
For the purpose of this piece I must provide two relevant pieces of information-my interviewer- (the person I’d be reporting to) is a wealthy white woman who is a professor at a well known private university in New York. I-the interviewee-am a black woman.
The person I’d be replacing was a young, extremely attractive. The point was reiterated ad nauseam throughout the interview.
I forgot to mention:
The interview process was grueling-up until my fourth and final interview where I met her, I thought I had the job.
I thought she understood me-after all the woman was writing books and giving lectures about how not to discriminate because in doing so-talent is neglected.
While waiting to meet her, I picked up a book in their library called, “So You Want To Talk About Race.” She walked in before I got a chance to peruse.
And so we begin. Black girl on her best behavior-white woman of privilege sizing me up. And down.
She tells me that the woman I’d be replacing keeps putting forth candidates that were unqualified because the woman I’d be replacing is scared of facing her powerful leadership role.
Keep in mind she is working on her Masters and I have two Masters degrees-(I hate to be that b@#$! but I’ll explain the braggadocio in a minute).
My interviewer knows this-she examines my resume, looks at my employment history and asks why I want the job. I won’t bore you with the details of the answer I gave her–but I’ll tell you this– if the gajillion places I’d sent my resume to over the past year had gotten back to me, I wouldn’t have been there-of course I didn’t say that, but I wanted to.
Here I sat, with two master’s degrees being told that I’d have to water her plants, fetch her coffee-maybe even park her car (I’d been out of work so long and the pay was so good, I’d start growing a green thumb, and by this point I actually wanted the job- there was tremendous growth potential).
I’d already explained in the past three interviews that over the course of my career, I’d developed pretty thick skin. None of that shit frightened me.
Back to the book.
She glances at “So You Want To Talk About Race.”
“Have you read it?”
“It’s a compelling read. Brutal.”
I nod. I know better than to discuss race or politics in an interview.
“I mean it’s brutal towards white people…”
She took it there.
I inhaled deeply. I wasn’t getting the f!@#? ing job.
“Until we have candid, uncomfortable conversations about race nothing will change in this country.”
Pregnant pause. She nods.
“I hear they are about to impeach Trump.” She says, packing up her belongings. “Have you heard?”
I hadn’t. I buried my grandmother the day before and to be honest, the fact I was able to carry on a conversation at all was a miracle. I was so angry.
“Well I have to run, I have to go to the pharmacy; my husband’s unwell and I have to pick up his medication before they close.”
She had a long drive ahead of her to the suburbs-far removed from the work she claimed to love-far removed from the racism she was implicitly perpetrating. That was the most infuriating part of the process.
She told me I’d hear from her within a few days. They were anxious to fill the position, which incidentally had been hard to fill. Their hires never seemed to work out.
She got up abruptly. I stood as well. I can’t explain the defeat I felt. I knew she didn’t want a black woman reporting to her and that white guilt may have been getting the best of her. I bet she thought, “I can’t ask this educated black woman to water my plants!”
But she didn’t ask me anything. She didn’t care to know.
“It was great meeting you,” I lied, and shook her outstretched hand. She closed the door and left me alone.
I thought about taking the book home-they’d never miss it. I mean she read the f!@#$! thing and didn’t get the point. I wondered, as I left that room humiliated and angry-would they ever?
Sent from my iPhone