July 1, 2017

Episode 9: Chuck is Disgruntled

I started my professional career right after college and I immediately recognized in my industry of planning and engineering, African Americans were far and few between. In a city like Baltimore where over 60% of the population is African American I’d think we’d make up more than the handful of professionals I know. On average, I don’t think any of my jobs ever had larger than a 15% rate of African Americans employed in that office.

Now, I was used to being the minority in high school and in college so adjusting to the low numbers in the professional world wasn’t hard, the challenge was adjusting to the stereotypes many colleagues had of me. From white men speaking slang around me to black men making assumptions about my blackness because I was from the suburbs; the judgments were nonstop and came from all angles. I’ve been called aggressive and sensitive in the same conversation by the same person. I’ve been told by a white person that my VP didn’t feel comfortable around me because I was black. And yes, I’ve had people make fried chicken jokes around me and think it was okay because I was “different.” As different as I am, I feel like everyone treats me the same.

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