Often time's I'd like to think that the choices I've made in my career objectives were the right choices. I'm sure to some degree we've all grown up around parents or advisors who have told us those specific career opportunities were the best move for us. For example, you always hear that military careers, county, government, and other significant career opportunities are the best to secure. But what happens when they are not?
What I'm about to tell you is going to do a few things: shock you, upset you, make you sort of uncomfortable, and likely take you through a host of other emotions, but bare with me!
On September 10, 2018, I began working for one of those "good jobs." I started my entry-level career at the county utility company. It all started when I was called by the temp agency that I had done work for. They asked me to do a temporary assignment for about four days, and I agreed. I had been unemployed for a few weeks during that time. Two days into the interim position, I was ready to go home. It was a drag. I was sitting at the front desk just watching people walk in. When they finally began giving me tasks, I was knocking them out so fast and accurately, the customer service manager came over and asked me to apply for one of their openings. Because I was unemployed and really didn't know where I wanted to work, I did. I applied for the job that Wednesday and became a full-time employee that Monday.
Things were going great. I began working, caught on to the position quite quickly, and was making a positive impression on those within my department. I was a teller. I had less than $5 in discrepancies in the duration of my time with the company and was up for promotion less than six months later. March 2019, I had my first evaluation since I'd been working there. I was told that I exceeded all expectations regarding the company's policies, procedures, and accountability. This took place the first week of March, and within a week, I was supposed to interview for the promotion opportunity. On the day of my interview, I sat in the conference room, waiting for an hour before I learned that my interview was "canceled." I didn't think much of it, I simply went back to my desk and began my work day as usual. This happened on a Monday. Tuesday I was out of the office because I wasn't feeling well. I had been back and forth to the physician I saw regarding my blood pressure. It had been at stroke level for a few weeks, and I had begun taking medication for it.
The week before, I had spoken with my supervisor privately about a discrimination issue within the office. The company had recently hired a temporary employee, and she was African American. From the information that customers had told me and from experience, there were only myself and one other African American woman in our office. One of my colleagues came to me and said: "It should be good for you that they've hired another black woman in here." It caught me so off guard I couldn't even respond. When she left, she also went to another colleague, who happens to be black, and told her that I was acting as if I was the only black person in the office and that she should feel offended by it. She also was going around the office showing people pictures from my social media account saying that I'm "pro-black" and I bring that attitude to work.
When I reported my concerns to my manager, she set up a meeting with HR and the customer service manager, and I discussed exactly what I told her to them. The human resource manager said, "we want you to feel welcomed here. We have heard nothing but positive comments regarding your work ethic, and it shows." However, on that Wednesday, when I returned back to work from taking a day off, we had another meeting. This time, the human resource manager said, " I knew you were lying the entire time. You are the one causing problems in this office, You "ostracize" yourself from everyone and make everyone in the building feel uncomfortable.
The word "ostracize" means "to exclude, by general consent, from society, friendship, conversation, privileges, etc. (Dictionary.com) in other words, she made me sound like a terrorist. It was at that moment I realized that I was being terminated for reporting racial discrimination. I grabbed my paperwork, and before I could get to my desk and pack my things, there was already a box there waiting for me. I felt betrayed. I had deeply rooted pain and tears building up inside of me, but I wouldn't dare allow anyone to see it. I got what little I had in the office, on my desk, and left the building. The company presented me with an offer of severance pay with the conditions of not seeking a lawyer or any legal action against them.
From March until May, I contacted every organization I could. I did a podcast regarding it. I reached out to the EEOC, the NAACP, I spoke with the board of directors from the company. I did all that I could, but I realized that this type of thing was not built in favor of an African American woman. I felt powerless. I eventually signed the papers for severance, Accepted my one-month payout, and invested that money into my business!
Since March 19, 2019, the day I was terminated, I have worked for myself. Entrepreneurship was forced on me, but it has always been the root of my existence. Though my income continues to vary, I trust myself and my abilities enough to believe that I can make a difference. I am still hurt and fearful of the situation I recently experienced and honestly not able to trust another company as of now. How do I know this won't happen to me again? How can I believe that a company will have my ethnicity at the forefront of their concerns and protect me from discrimination? I don't have those answers, and until I do, I want to continue building right here in the place that God wants me.
I appreciate you all for reading. I hope that what I've shared helps you when it comes to figuring out what is best for your career objectives. It is hard to trust your entire livelihood with a company. You're entrusting the security of your family, your life, and your wealth with them. Once that is jeopardized, it is tough to recover from it.