Stop doing these 5 things to your new black employees
I know you think it’s harmless, but it’s usually offensive
When I saw an email alert pop up from my boss, I read it with curious eyes. The subject was all about Victor*, a newspaper intern who she wanted me to mentor. I had no idea why I was chosen to be his mentor, especially considering I had only been working for this newspaper for maybe a year or so. But my boss thought I’d be “perfect” for him. I shrugged and responded, “Sure.”
Rule 1: While having a mentor who can relate to his mentee makes sense, consider more than just race before pairing people up.
When I saw the intern walk up to the glass door, I knew exactly why I was the “perfect” mentor for him and why my boss thought we’d “be a good fit.” Victor is African-American, a little over 6'0, slim build and handsome in a brainy kind of way. I talked to Victor briefly and realized that we had zip zero in common other than both enjoying journalism and a love for writing. He hated rap music, especially ratchet rap. I toggle between listening to Yasiin Bey and Drake, but some days Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck” and Migos “Fight Night” could be my alarm clock songs. He’s not athletic nor particularly coordinated. Meanwhile I live and breathe WERQ dance routines. His idea of entertainment is watching reality TV shows like “Whodunnit?” while I’d rather shake my fist at my TV and Tweet-complain about the “Black Ink” and “Love & Hip Hop” series.
But in all fairness, I liked him a lot — on a platonic level. He was church mouse quiet around pretty much everyone but me. Still though, he was quite intelligent and charming. However, that “perfect” part about me being a mentor made me wonder what exactly made me more qualified to be his mentor than the rest of our (surprise surprise) all-white news team.