The Only Black Guy in the Office

My Pandemic-Era Promotion Presents Unexpected Challenges

New title. New money. Still Black.

The Only Black Guy In the Office
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readOct 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.

I would say it’s been a long time, but these days, 24 hours feels like either 24 minutes or an eternity, no in-between. Instead, I’ll say it’s been a while since I’ve last shared my experiences of being the Only Black Guy in the Office. If this is your first time reading this column, welcome. Hope you’re well.

Unlike Power or The Wire, the stories I tell here do not exist in some linear narrative where you have to go back and read all my old joints (though if you have time and you’ve finished binging You on Netflix, here’s an introduction as well as an archive for you to sift through). In truth, though, you can start here because, well, even to all my longtime readers (what up, y’all?!) I have, as folks like to say on Twitter, some personal news: Your boy got promoted!

Shortly after writing my last column back in July, I was unexpectedly upgraded to the role of senior manager of marketing. I say “unexpectedly” because if it wasn’t obvious to anyone reading this column, I was spending more time trying to make moves than aiming for a swaggy role at my current company. The antsiness wasn’t about wanting more money so much as it was about wanting to see more melanin in my Zoom meetings. Essentially, I was tired of actually being damn near the only Black guy in the office.

But as it turns out, my code-switching skills and the quality of my work made an impression on the powers that be. And I can admit, the offer to be promoted felt good. Despite moments of frustration, I’ve worked my ass off, so it’s nice to feel my contributions are appreciated. I guess “stay low and keep firing” is a sound strategy to getting ahead, word to Big. But I’m also learning that with great power comes great responsibility, word to Ben.

Am I going to end up being the type of manager who frustrates my direct reports so much they end up writing a blog about me?

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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.