Living in the Skin I’m In

Perspectives on life as a Black woman

Valerie J. Alexander, Ph.D.
engendered

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Photo credit: Dom Aguiar on Unsplash

A few years ago, I interviewed for a position within an organization. I was being interviewed by a panel of people — all of them white. Now, at the outset, there is nothing wrong with that, but in my opinion, the main interviewer was being overly gratuitous. For a number of reasons, I got the distinct feeling that he was more interested in my ethnicity than my actual skills. I wondered if I would get the job because of my skin color rather than the expertise I would bring to the table.

Perhaps it was an erroneous perception on my part, but I could not shake the feeling that my race was of more concern than my actual qualifications. As a result, I made a fatal error. Towards the end of the interview, when asked if I had any questions, I asked with all boldness, “Are you all looking for the best qualified for the job, or are you specifically looking for a Black person?” Taken aback, the main interviewer responded that they were looking for the best fit for their organization. He denied that my race was a focal point. But something about that interview left me feeling uneasy. I was not convinced that I was the right person for the job.

Although grateful for their interest in me, I chose candor over tact or diplomacy. At the time, I thought my question was a fair one. But in retrospect…

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Valerie J. Alexander, Ph.D.
engendered

Political scientist, sociologist, and theologian by training. I write about politics, racism, faith, and whatever hits me. Twitter: @Alexander247_9