The Only Black Guy in the Office
Black Employees Are Diversity Ambassadors by Default
I’ve accepted this fact and figured out how to use my powers for good
A few weekends ago, I bagged some clothes and kicks that had been collecting dust in the back of my closet and dropped them off at a local donation center. ‘Tis the season for spring cleaning and whatnot. What can I say, I’ve always been one for giving what I can to those in need. It’s the fulfillment for me.
This everyday, tax-deductible act — along with the world slowly but surely opening back up — got me to thinking about how I pay it forward in my professional life. My general workplace demeanor might be to keep to myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m stingy with knowledge. I’ll drop game on my direct reports and neophytes at the job when I can. And Clubhouse offers a digital forum to share wisdom (albeit in virtual rooms with people who are the literal worst). But throughout the pandemic, I’ve been missing the experience of getting out and meeting prospective colleagues and peers in person and really getting to connect with folks in my own industry.
In the Before Times, I’d leap at any chance I got to speak with students at my alma mater. Back in my collegiate days, I always felt like exposure to professionals in my course of study made my education worth the massive student loan debt. Seeing people who looked like me making big moves at major companies was always powerful; their impression made an even bigger impact if they were also HBCU grads like me.
As I’ve previously written, there’s a myth that an education at a historically Black college or university doesn’t prepare you for the real world — I knew that was a lie long before Kamala Harris became the first Black vice president. You see, when I was back in undergrad with nothing but a dream and a badly fitted suit, I attended career days and lectures that hosted women and men who’d graduated from HBCUs and became directors, VPs, and even CMOs of Fortune 100 companies. They not only inspired me but they showed me that I too can have a seat at the table like Solange and I can…