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The controversy surrounding ‘Kim’s Convenience’ highlights a sad truth about diversity

Photo: CBC

When the Canadian television series Kim’s Convenience arrived on Netflix in the summer of 2018, I was instantly smitten. It wasn’t the funniest show I’d ever seen, or slickly produced in any way, but it had loads of charm. The largely self-inflicted pratfalls of the titular Kim family marked the first time I could recall seeing a Korean family starring in a sitcom, which also went a long way for me.

The whole affair seemed progressive, even though some of the humor did not. What can I say, I grew up in the 1970s with Fred Sanford and Archie Bunker…

The Only Black Guy in the Office

I’ve accepted this fact and figured out how to use my powers for good

Illustration: Michael Kennedy

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…

LEVEL’s own The Only Black Guy in the Office sounds off on the latest in corporate America–related news in a brand-new column

After a year like 2020, it’s no surprise that diversity training in corporate America has become big business — a cottage industry that has made bank for its practitioners. Companies that have participated in these sessions have been completely transformed in their operation, rewiring the minds of employees from executive to entry level and shifting the seesaw of privilege into a more balanced position. Well, at least that was the goal. Turns out, studies have shown that the DEI boom is largely ineffective in removing workplace inequity — in many cases, these trainings can have the opposite effect. Doh!


The franchise’s diversity quick fix has still failed its contestants of color

The Bachelor’s January debut offered another fresh start, mainly since it followed the franchise’s statement about a newfound commitment to diversity. Although James’s season had the most diverse cast in…


Sure, you wish them well—but navigating the aftershocks is tricky at non-diverse companies

Illustration: Michael Kennedy

A couple of weeks ago, I poured out a lil’ liquor for the homie. I knew Ryan would leave us eventually; I just wasn’t ready to see his time come so soon. But I’m finding solace in the fact that he’s moving on to a better place — a land where vacation time is unlimited, gym reimbursements are plentiful, and 401(k) funds get matched. Ryan got a new job.

No matter the reason, it’s tough to see colleagues leave for greener pastures, especially the ones who are part of your daily routine. Even teammates you think of as acquaintances provide…

If you want to imagine a world without racism, it’s gonna take much more than a kumbaya soundbite

Photo: Ivan Pantic/Getty Images

My job has a weekly meeting about diversity, equity, and inclusion, in that order. DEI, that now-mainstream acronym adored by corporations and organizations everywhere since last year’s racial-awareness uprising, are what “diversity trainings” used to be. You remember those. Once a year or so, you’d spend a few hours listening to someone talk about bias, suffer through an awkward role-playing exercise, sign a form in which you pledge to be demonstrably less problematic, and then go back to work and wait for a softer, gentler workplace culture to kick in.

This portion of the meeting didn’t always exist. Last year’s…

The Only Black Guy in the Office

Pandemic headhunting is boosting my ego at the same pace as it’s boosting my doubts

Illustration: Michael Kennedy

Summer 2020 was a busy time for my inbox. Wanda was the fourth one to slip into my LinkedIn DMs in the same month. Much like Gene, Angela, and the other recruiters before her, the message followed a familiar format: “Reaching out about an opportunity” in the subject line, then some variation of “we think you’d be a great fit,” and “let us know if you’d like to chat” in the body. This isn’t even counting the other three intro emails that came straight to my personal.

Now, I’d be lying if I said Nicki and Bey’s “Feeling Myself” wasn’t…


My company’s diversity committee is pushing forward to make positive change — but not without posers disturbing the process

Illustration: Michael Kennedy

Halloween is still more than a month away, and yet my co-workers are all dressed up in the most popular costume of the season: an ally! The get-up isn’t difficult to spot. It’s mostly displaying a fair-weather enthusiasm about the news cycle, along with performative activity on social media, with little real-life action to show for it. At this point, it’s to be expected. But as the new diversity committee at my job continues to push for positive change at the company, I’ve been surprised to encounter some wishy-washy peers of the same hue — pseudo-allies who look just like…

The Only Black Guy in the Office

Things you learn after years of being a token in the workplace

Illustration: Michael Kennedy

To My 2015 Self (aka The Only Black Guy On The Sales Floor),

Hey, you. Or, rather, me. Listen up. I’m writing to you during one of the most upside-down moments in modern American history and, arguably, our lifetime. A few 2020 spoilers: A reality star with small hands and a combover is running the country into the ground, a pandemic has literally put the entire world on pause, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with WFH, and we’re in the midst of a racial reckoning that’s about to get ugly. TL;DR: This year’s trash. Zero stars, would not recommend.


The Only Black Guy in the Office

Why won’t companies quit slapping a Band-Aid on things and make some actual meaningful changes?

Photos: filadendron/Zero Creatives/Getty Images

There’s nothing wrong with a little special treatment from time to time. Not having to do chores on your birthday as a kid. Your uncle sneaking you $10 under the table because you’re his favorite nephew. Getting a few extra sauces at the Chick-fil-A counter, no charge. (Sure, everyone gets that, it feels so damn personal!) Those little moments feel good. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve become privy to a more irksome brand of special treatment. Like getting sought out for “opportunities” to be Thee Token Black Employee for your newly woke White-ass company. …


Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

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