• Otto Blac

Performative Employment: Now Hiring Black People

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Are we really going to let employers qualify our Blackness? Wait a minute, aren't you asking for my help?


Companies with statistically non-black employers seek black candidates who then need to demonstrate or "qualify" their Blackness on a resume for Black Advocacy work. What gives?


Black folks may not always have access to degrees but are still leaders, mediators, and inspiring people in their communities. These professional advocacy roles are a generational improvement. Still, they pan out as performative when there's "right" type of model minority Black person people want to see, and that person is usually a good company "cultural fit"


Who lands Black advocacy job interviews? Blacks fortunate enough to out-perform statistics, Blacks who have mastered code-switching, Blacks who don't make their counterparts feel unsafe.


Meanwhile, you have Black men and women of all social varieties navigating their real-world adversity in a non-academic/non-career way but still manage to impact thousands from their bedroom and Tik Tok stream.


I'm not saying roles like this will not make a difference. But, you're not getting the creme de la creme of Black talent and influence when education systems and workplace discrimination have estranged so many of us from upward mobility. Think about it; most of us receive miseducation on Black history. We have to learn the truth through books on our own time if that course isn't available (in college). How do you quantify hours spent relearning Black History in a resume? How do you convince someone on paper you can confidently stick up for your intersectional self? Isn't that the aim of advocating for equality?


These roles are performative allyship in gesture and thus create a hurdle of unintentional racial offensives, which can only be lept by those fortunate Blacks who've lept every other barrier set by systemic oppression.


Solution? Lower minimum credentials and instead examine life experiences & individual potential. Hiring employers should conduct interviews in small groups, so each individual Black candidate's personality, stories, and solutions to adversity are at the forefront of what each job requires. Being Black isn't scripted. It's intuitive. Hire Black advocates based on responses and personability, not career trajectory.

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