Updated: Feb 28, 2021
I am the only black nurse practitioner in my facility. I had to make chess moves in order to get this position. There was no Aunt, Uncle, or any other legacy entrance to pave the way for me. It is often this way for people of color as they start to ascend to higher heights than that of their parents. True indeed they may be hardworking folks but maybe degreeless. No shame in that. No sob story either. My mom is a nurse and worked hard; 2 jobs most of her working career. But never in a position to “get me in” somewhere.
When it comes to nepotism, we’ve seen first hand with this outgoing administration what that looks like. For this particular position that I have now, I had to leave a full time position but keep my foot in the door, per diem or as needed. I had to observe the inner workings of this corporate circle; learn the chess board and it’s players. Why? Because no matter how professional, reliable, or knowledgeable I was, there is always someone’s niece or nephew that could be made to appear be more qualified! And by the lack of diversity in upper management, this is how POC are often locked out of the “insiders path”. That‘s privilege.
PBI or performance based interviews are a series of questions that are fired off in a round. Usually there are 3 interviewers and they take turns asking these vague questions that really have no specifications for the job you’re interviewing for. The grading is subjective. And though there is supposed to be impartiality, it’s not. The panel is usually familiar with the interviewees. And often their minds are made up as to whom the want to hire.
So to keep my foot in the door and get familiar with the players, I made chess moves. I got my experience elsewhere and worked occasionally at this job. Going in when needed or asked. Showing up and actually doing the job.
But after a bad experience with my now full time employer, I decided to go back to my per diem employer, as a full timer. But not as a nurse practitioner, I went in as an educator.
However, I knew that there was going to be some retirees, soon! And I just needed the opportunity to learn the pieces, players, and the chessboard to make my move on one of those positions. Quietly, stealthily, and determinedly I worked my way into my now position. I learned many components of the department, kept my time and attendance stellar, and stayed true to myself and character. Something that’s hard for POC to do for fear of being too “black” or for being too “real”. Believe me, I had issues before and will continue to have them. I am 5’3 1/2, chunky, black, with platinum blonde hair and a nose ring and I work for the Federal government! Picture those optics!
How could you deny me? 😂 But they tried. And many were salty because it didn’t work. My flat mono tone was often seen as “rude”. Thankfully I had a manager who understood the difference between professional and alleged rudeness. She diffused those who felt triggered by the direct, plain speaking, black woman.
Thats a small component of beating privilege. And many of those experiences and that of other people’s was the catalyst for my book. Having to deal with corporate bs and watching the system work for some and not others.
Whether you believe it to exist or not, privilege is real. It doesn’t mean ones life wasn’t hard or that they didn’t grow up poor, it just means that based solely on one biological factor, your whiteness, you have been given the benefit of the doubt. You’re assumed to be smarter, honest, and hardworking based solely on being white. KUDOS! You may be the laziest mother sucker on the planet but because you’re white, you deserve the job, the chance, the option.
I am a black professional and yes I wrote this guide based on not just my experiences but those of many POC. Our inter-connectivity segued into this quick, well put together read. For anyone actually. White folks who have read this book are amazed that it’s relevant for them as well!
The Black Professional’s Guide How To Navigate White Privilege In The Workplace