By Dorcas S
Being the sole black face in an organization is indeed a mixed blessing.
On the one hand, it IS frustrating to be one (or a handful) of blacks/Africans in an organization.
It can feel “lonely” and “alone”.
There are also moments of being/feeling self-conscious.
The flip side of being the sole black face in a company is that everyone (within the organization), good, bad or indifferent, immediately recognizes/remembers you and while the circumstances that evoke said memories are oftentimes shrouded in stereotypes, there are benefits to being atop the minds of the organization’s decision-makers.
The book “Leaders Eat Last” was one of two books given by / received from the COO of one of Silicon Valley’s premier company – who remembered bae from an exchange a while. The other title he received was/is “TENSION: The Energy of Innovation” by Chris and Mitch Wasden.
Even more meaningful and substantive is when you are called upon to make recommendations on an issue – “because I’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue and importantly, this is something industry will have to address sooner or later” – as a budding CEO of a small start-up offered during a discussion on expanding enrolment beyond the typical (white enrollees) in a budding clinical study.
Obviously the larger issue and discussion is WHY there are so few blacks in certain industries including biotech, med device, IT (Google, FB, Twitter, Amazon etc.).
Eventually one has to decide how they want to use that “privileged” perch or access/opportunity: For personal gains or to tackle broader/salient issues.