Thanks for asking, Joel. And yes, it got to me. I wanted to believe that even stripped of my “on paper” credentials I’d be someone people wanted to hire. That after a conversation with me they’d think, oh, what a nice guy. Smart, and personable, and altogether impressive, oh my! I think most of us flatter ourselves in such ways. In any case, it didn’t happen. My racial identity was obvious and the fact that I was applying for entry-level jobs gave me a class identity. I think that combination provided a powerful lens that conditioned and/or distorted what people saw in me and heard from me.
We all do this all the time. To use an easy example: think about how identifying a person as “homeless” conditions the way most of us see and interact with that person? How much differently, even in the most casual ways, we interact with a homeless person compared, say, to someone we pass on the sidewalk who has just stepped out of a limo in front of a nice hotel? It’s a bit of a “duh” example, but you get the idea.