I struggle to understand why some white people do not believe that black people can be talented, educated, highly-skilled, and intelligent. Throughout my professional career, I have often heard white people say that I only got a particular job or promotion because I am a black woman.
They have even said to my face that if I was also a lesbian or someone with a disability, I would probably get every single job I applied for because I would tick the box of every single diversity criteria.
I have a university education like my white colleagues. I have built expertise in managing public health programs in low and middle-income countries, and I have nurtured a network of key decision-makers in this space.
I have been told that I am good at what I do, and yet for some, I am but a diversity quota.
I have worked hard to get a seat at the table like many of my white co-workers, yet many still question my legitimacy. I know for a fact that many of my white colleagues past and present think that I am where I am because I am a black woman. For them, I check both the gender and the ethnic boxes so I’ve hit the corporate jackpot.
When I deconstruct this behavior, I come to two possible conclusions. One is that some white people just do not want to accept that a black person can do just as good a job as them or even better. If black people are to be respected and valued in the workplace, this ignorant and false premise needs to change.
Second, and this is often the case when both a white person and I apply for a job and I end up getting it, my white colleague automatically assumes I got the job because I am a black woman.
I guess it makes them feel better to think this as it allows them to defer any thinking about what might have been their own shortcomings for the role. White people need to engage in that process of introspection in order to stop making scapegoats out of black and brown women.
I’m not sure my white colleagues understand how hurtful it is for them to imply that I did not get a job based on my own merit or on my…