Racial Prejudice Causes Hearing Loss

April 12, 2007

In light of all the racial discussions and reflections in the media these days, I thought about one of my own racial episodes from my days in corporate America.

As my SOM states, my background is technology. So, I’m serving as Technical Lead (Internet/Intranet) for an international chemical manufacturer, and my CTO asks me to represent the company, in his stead, at an E-Business Symposium at the Renaissance Waverly. This posh meeting (penthouse level, of course) would be attended by directors, chief technology officers, SVPs, CEOs — it was really an honor to be selected for this opportunity.

I arrive in my best corporate duds, portfolio in tow, fragrant with humble confidence. When I reached the penthouse suite, the pretty blonde receptionist, dressed in a modest skirt and blouse, was busy assisting the gentleman who arrived before me. With his information packet and name badge in hand, she kindly directed him to the private boardroom where the symposium would take place.

I took a moment to leisurely walk around the lovely suite, surrounded by walls of windows that perfectly framed the downtown skyline, perusing business cards and brochures on the tables.

As she returned, her bubbly personality leaped at me – “May I help you?”, she said. “Yes, Hi, I’m here for the E-Business Symposium.” “OhhhKayyy…please have a seat and I’ll be right with you.”

I sat on the champagne chaise lounge, trying wholeheartedly not to show my nervousness in the company of all these big wigs. The last thing I wanted to do was embarrass my company and African-American women everywhere lol. Handing me a clipboard with pen attached, “OhhKayyy…here we go…just fill this out and bring it back when you’re done.” And she was off to her desk.

When I finally looked down at the clipboard, I had to catch my jaw from dropping, for fear of bruising it on the floor. I couldn’t believe my eyes, nor stop the loud ringing in my ears. I couldn’t say this out loud….so I thought it with all my might………..”OH NO she didn’t…Give me an application for KITCHEN HELP!!!”

Gathering my senses and emotions, I walked back to her desk and explained my presence, AGAIN! What part of E-Business Symposium did she not understand. Perhaps the color of my skin, blinded her to my professional attire, and busted her eardrums….translating E-Business Symposium to kitchen help.

The Symposium was great, made some excellent biz contacts….But more importantly, I made sure I offered direct eye contact and expressed verbal gratitude [both were sorely lacking at the table] to the Hispanics and African-Americans who so graciously served us all that day……..

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One Response to “Racial Prejudice Causes Hearing Loss”

  1. refinedone Says:

    Noooooooooo she didn’t !!!
    girl!! you know is situations like this you say ” thank God I’m saved” lol!!


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