Interviews: that dreaded word that sends shivers down even the most seasoned professional's spine. Yes, even me, a confident, skilled Black professional, finds myself battling sweaty palms and pre-meeting panic attacks. But beyond the usual anxieties, there's another layer of fear: the fear of rejection, not just for the position, but for my whole self, my unapologetically Black self.
In professional spaces, especially for Black professionals, there's this unspoken pressure to assimilate, to downplay, to cover. It's as if we have to mute our true selves to blend in and avoid the stigma that follows our melanin. I refuse to do that.
I've made a conscious choice to work with people and in environments that respect my professional contributions and embrace my dynamic personality. I won't be a washed-down version of myself, nor will I contort my voice to sound "professional." Honestly, it's exhausting and ultimately ineffective in building genuine, harmonious relationships.
Misrepresenting yourself on a resume or in an interview might get you the job, but it comes with a price. You'll be expected to perform at a level you haven't portrayed. The same goes for your "well-mannered white phone voice," the slicked-back hair, or the neatly tied dreadlocks. It's too much work to cover who you are. And why should you?
I understand the need for acceptance, but not at the cost of your own identity. You're an intelligent, innovative, and driven professional with a wealth of experience and knowledge. So why not bring your authentic self to the table? You have nothing to hide, but your self-respect and a fierce pride in your culture and the journey that brought you there.
Let's stop performing and start being. Let's be our unapologetically Black selves in every interview, every meeting, every professional interaction. We deserve to be seen, heard, and respected for who we truly are.
This is not just about individual success, it's about paving the way for generations of Black professionals to come. We can't afford to keep playing by someone else's rules. We need to rewrite the narrative, redefine what it means to be a successful Black professional, and show the world that we can thrive on our own terms.
So, to the Black professionals out there, I say this: walk into your next interview with your head held high, your voice clear and unwavering, and your blackness radiating like a beacon. Don't be afraid to be unapologetically you. You are intelligent, innovative, and powerful. You have a story to tell, and the world needs to hear it.