THE ONLY BLACK GUY IN THE OFFICE

Don’t Let Me Hear You Say an HBCU Education Didn’t Prepare Me

Kamala Harris’ appointment to Madam Vice President hits differently for Black college grads like me

The Only Black Guy In the Office
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readJan 25, 2021

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Illustration: Michael Kennedy

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

For many of my co-workers, this inauguration hit different. Mostly for good reasons. After four years marked by incompetence, negligence, and frequent abuses of power at the presidential level, we were all elated to see last week’s changing of the guard. There was a noticeable optimism beaming through everyone’s Zoom windows throughout the day. (I even put myself on mute during a meeting to bump “FDT” for a bit.)

But that’s not the only reason this inauguration felt special. It wasn’t the Covid-era masks that everyone was wearing, or Bernie Sanders’ viral normcore fashion statement in front of the same building where, just two weeks before, domestic terrorists had attempted a whole-ass coup. No, this one was historic because now, for the first time ever, we can all paraphrase Jeezy: My vice president is Black — a woman, too!

There’s no shortage of historical significance attached to Kamala Harris’ ascension to Madam Vice President. (Don’t sleep on her South Asian heritage, either.) But an underappreciated aspect of her origin story that I’m quick to point out to my colleagues is her alma mater: Howard University. As an HBCU graduate myself, I wanna graffiti it on billboards around the city, spam it all over social media, and maybe even tattoo it on my forehead, virtual job interviews be damned. (Yeah, the recruiters are checking for your boy these days.)

As significant as alumni of historically Black colleges and universities have been in shaping and influencing our country, somehow there are still stigmas associated with these institutions.

If I had it my way, Harris’ Howard affiliation would be common knowledge — a $100 Jeopardy! question. It’s not about ego. (For privacy purposes, I’m keeping my actual alma mater…

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The Only Black Guy In the Office
LEVEL
Writer for

Do you know him? Is it you? The trials and tribulations of a Black man navigating corporate life.