Taking It Off: Should My Resume Say “I’m Black?” Taking It Off: Should My Resume Say “I’m Black?”

Taking It Off: Should My Resume Say “I’m Black?”

With only 97 days, fourteen weeks and three months left until I graduate from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, I have been pruning my resume for weeks. After leaving the workforce for ten months, riding out the recession, my resume is the ticket into a plum job that hopefully will lead to an even better career.

Last week, when I was removing bullet points and adding indents, my best friend peered over my shoulder shocked to find that I had listed National Association of Black Journalists. She asked, “Why would you want to be black on your resume? They'll never hire you.”

Wait a minute! What? And here I thought newsrooms were looking to diversify. I had to investigate.

Michelle* graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from an esteemed university in New York City four years ago. After sending out over forty resumes to prospective employers, she only received two calls for interviews. Michelle was smart. She was the President of the school’s Black Student Union, a member of a historically black sorority and had graduated cum laude.

Perplexed by the lack of calls (mind you, this is pre-recession), Michelle sat in front of her computer screen. A friend suggested she make a few changes: get rid of any organizations that scream, "I’m black". Delete “Black Student Union” and delete “Delta Sigma Theta.” So she did. And after another round of emailing resumes to prospective employers, Michelle was pleased with the response: 12 interviews and a number of immediate job offers.

Michelle is one of many black women who have decided to dial back their blackness in order to excel in corporate America. Whether the threat is real or conjured, black women feel that they must assimilate and appear agreeable in order to obtain a position or be promoted in competitive companies.

“When you’re a person of color, I feel like it’s even harder to get in the door,” Michelle said. “There’s already a lot of competition...and now, there’s the economy.”

The economy has had a dire impact on hiring for all Americans but especially for blacks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black men is twice as much as white men. And overall, 15.7 percent of blacks are unemployed, compared to 8 percent of whites. The bureau cites discrimination as the primary factor in the discrepancy.

After nearly fifty years since “affirmative action” entered our lexicons thanks to President John F. Kennedy’s executive order, blacks still navigate corporate America in a unique way. Unlike their white cohorts, black must strategize and decide if being black is an advantage or a disadvantage. While some may advise not to appear black on a resume, human resources professionals give alternative advice.

“Companies are looking for a diverse pool of top notch candidates,” said Nicole Williams, a former human resource assistant at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, Md. “It can only be seen as an asset in most industries.”

Despite the perceived adversity, most companies have invested in recruiting and hiring people of color. Many companies, large and small, recruit at historically black colleges and universities as well as within black professional organizations such as the Black Business Association and the National Society of Black Engineers. Still, at the end of the day a person’s skills are the ticket into any organization. If you’re skill set does not meet the needs of the company then you won’t get hired.


“What most recruiters are looking for is the right match up of experience, skill set and education when deciding which resumes to send to hiring managers,” explained Williams. “I have not seen a recruiter say, 'Oh, this applicant has all of the requirements for the job but is a member of a black sorority or fraternity so we can't interview them.’”

Despite Michelle’s experience, and the experience of many other prospective employees who are African-American, could it be that removing blackness from one’s resume to level the playing field is an old wives tale? And could it be that the more we’re concerned about discrimination based on race, the more susceptible we are to it?

There’s no doubt that blacks living in America are discriminated against. The statistics show it and the U.S. Bureau of Labor confirmed it. Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that if you’re not qualified, you won’t get the job. Instead of focusing on strategizing ways to fiddle with your resume, focus on building concrete skills that make you look more appealing to a company. Take a workshop in team building, social media or HTML to make your resume stand out. With skills like these, recruiters and companies will find it hard to keep your foot out of the door.

For the record, I kept National Association of Black Journalists on my resume.

* Name has been changed because this sister has a job and she plans to keep it.

- Joi Marie McKenzie

From the Web

More on Vibe

Getty Images

Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

Continue Reading
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

Continue Reading
Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
Getty Images

BET To Unveil Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

As Being Mary Jane comes to an end, BET is willing to offer fans a taste of what's to come in the series finale.

The network has enlisted the help of Ayesha Curry, celebrity cook and cookbook author, to create an edible billboard that also doubles as a wedding cake. The sweet treat will commemorate Mary Jane's (played by Gabrielle Union) nuptials in the two-hour series finale.

On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

Don't forget to tune into the series finale of Being Mary Jane on Tues. (April 23) at 8/7 c.

Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET! pic.twitter.com/jEwkbC71OW

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

Continue Reading

Top Stories