What a Year Writing About Being Black in Corporate America Taught Me About Race
When keeping it real goes right
A few weeks ago, I got my first whiff of celebrity status. And it was horrifying.
I got a text from my boy James, a member of the POC posse at a former job. We’d stayed in touch over the years, and he’s elevated to a meme swap acquaintance — basically a half-rung below what I’d consider a friend. It’s always good to hear from him, though, and when his name popped up on my phone, I was already prepared for a good laugh. His latest correspondence, however, wasn’t a silly TikTok video or Bernie Sanders Photoshop job.
It was a link to my anonymous column, The Only Black Guy in the Office.
Apparently, he got a kick out of an entry I’d written back in September, listing 2020-appropriate professional email greetings in lieu of the perfunctory “hope all is well” opening. He sent it along with the phrase “BIG MOOD” and a bunch of laughing emojis. I was shook. On one hand, I was hyped to see that he found humor — and a shred of truth — in a satirical piece that had already been a hit with Medium readers. The fact that it had circulated wide enough to land on his radar was an added point of pride. But the overwhelming emotion was paranoia. Did James connect the dots? Had he discovered that I was Miles Morales, secretly slinging essays about the overwhelming Whiteness of corporate America under a masked identity? (Yes, I just compared myself to the only Spider-Man who matters. Deal with it.)
The encounter comes to mind as I reflect on this past weekend, the first birthday I didn’t celebrate with cake (but probably should’ve). Saturday marked one year since my first published The Only Black Guy in the Office post on this platform. Aside from being a gainful side hustle, it’s become such a significant aspect of my life that it feels like a persona of its own. This column has become a form of therapy — a weekly vent session to process the good, the bad, and the fuckery of my professional life.