The Only Black Guy in the Office

Why I’m Skeptical About Joining My Company’s Diversity Committee

Sure, I want to help voice our race-related concerns, but am I playing myself?

The Only Black Guy In the Office
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readJul 13, 2020

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Illustration: Richard A. Chance

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

There are few things more cringeworthy than performative White wokeness in the workplace — and I have a feeling most Black folks working in corporate America will back me up on that. In the weeks following George Floyd’s death and the subsequent uprisings, we watched as big brands added to the stockpile of Black solidarity squares, wondering if the profound quotes they paired them with were simply masks for hollow promises. Now that doing away with systemic racism and doing better by the few Black employees in some of these spaces is at the top of everyone’s to-do list, companies know they’ll need some guidance to avoid getting canceled.

My job already had its share of fumbles: A few White colleagues called out leadership for failure to release an internal or external statement in response to the glaring and traumatic examples of racism in the news. But higher-ups have personally encouraged me to share ideas on how they can keep the subject matter top of mind, whether it’s through a campaign or internal programming. (Best believe I’m going to hold them to that next time I pop-up with an edgy proposal.)

But I was surprised that some of my colleagues sought to take it a step further from the ground level. The other day, a couple of my co-workers asked me if I’d be down to participate in a racial caucus slash town hall that was in the works. Wait, what? Listen, I’m all for organized action, but before anything else, I’m a results guy. So while I love that the idea was brought up, I stalled a bit when it came to taking on responsibilities past my workload.

As one of the few Black people there, it’s all too likely that any negative fallout from the table-shaking falls on yours truly.

The first thing that came to mind was: What is the action plan actually going to look like? It’s one thing to…

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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.