The Only Black Guy in the Office

I May Not Qualify for the Stimulus Check, but I Still Could Use It

Stimmy envy is too real

The Only Black Guy In the Office
Published in
3 min readMar 29, 2021
Illustration of a man working at a computer daydreaming of being a rich man lying on a big check.
Illustration: Michael Kennedy for LEVEL

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

One of the first rap songs I ever learned the words to was “Mo Money Mo Problems” by the Notorious B.I.G. Even as a young’un, I was fascinated by the hook Kelly Price sang: “I don’t know what they want from me / It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.”

That song came out in 1997 when I was still a kid living under my parents’ roof with nary a bill to pay; the only problems I had involved arithmetic. But growing up with two parents who worked blue-collar jobs, I did know that I didn’t have McDonald’s money, and allowance didn’t grow on trees. In my world, less money didn’t mean fewer problems, so it was hard for me to imagine someone could be so rich that they made a song complaining about it.

This year, though, I finally began to understand what Biggie, Puff Daddy, and pre-pastor Mase were rhyming about. No, I’m not rapper rich. The only flossing I’m doing these days is dental. But right before the pandemic, I landed my current gig, which included a nice bump in pay. For the first time in my career, my salary hurdled the six-figure mark. I felt like Jesse Owens with a desk job.

I know I’m not about to wake up to a notification that Uncle Sam deposited $1,400 into my bank account while I was dreaming about a new track bike or air fryer or .003 of a bitcoin. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have put it to good use.

Looking at my W-2, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve never associated my success or happiness with what’s written on my paycheck, but I was raised on capitalism and bling-era rap. Money has always motivated me. Yet in spite of my new earnings, I still had financial insecurities, especially after leveling up from splitting rent with a roommate to a fly-ass apartment of my own. My cost of living increased — and so did my problems.



The Only Black Guy In the Office
Writer for

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