Standard interview, or Racism?

I am starting week 2 at the Rutba House. I spent this past week looking for jobs, and let me tell you, even though I only did it for a few days, I feel for people who spend weeks and months looking for employment. It’s a pretty humbling experience to walk into place after place and ask, “Are you hiring?”

My final inquiry was at a TGI Friday’s. I had heard they were hiring, so I went in to ask for an application. I filled it out and they were doing interviews that day as well. As I walked to do the interview, I heard another candidate being interviewed. He was black, about my age, not dressed particularly nicely, but certainly not badly. He was being interviewed by a white man in a tie. I overheard the manager (white guy) say, “We usually only hire people with serving experience as servers.” My immediate thought was, “Darn, cause I don’t have any experience either, so maybe they won’t want me.”

I had my interview next, with a different woman at first. She really liked me, and recommended that I apply as a host, since I didn’t have experience as a server and because my prior experiences fit me better for that. She leaves so that the manager (white guy) can interview me futher and all. He comes over and immediately says that he thinks I should be a server. *Flashes through my head* “Why didn’t he care about my experience??” He recommends me for waiter over host despite my inexperience, while questioning the other guys experience.

I don’t know if this was conscious, or even racism at all. I really hope it wasn’t. I like to think that they thought my overall personality was a better fit and it didn’t matter about my experience. But in the back of my mind, or really the fore, I think there was something going on. There’s no way to know, but I guess this could be my introduction to the South. Even if it wasn’t, how many other times does this happen in other places?

I honestly didn’t think I would see racism so soon (or what could be racism). But then I did something stupid myself. Walking through my neighborhood, I saw a bunch of guys hanging out in the middle of the street, and I was intimidated. They were young and black. So, I walked a different way. It wasn’t conciously because of their race, but seeing the racism at the restaurant and then turning and realizing that I myself am still so full of sin was quite a humbling experience. It reminds me of that scene in Crash, where the white cop who got so upset about the racism he saw ended up shooting the black kid because he assumed he was dangerous.

It was a reminder of my brokenness and my need for daily conversion. Each day I must repent and turn toward Christ.

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One comment

  1. Christian Beyer · August 26, 2008

    Could’ve been racism. But you never saw the guy’s resume – maybe he had six jobs in the last six months. Or maybe the guy’s app was full of spelling errors or was incomplete. Or maybe during the interview he picked his nose.

    You’re going to find racist employment practices. Your aren’t likely to find many being practiced by national companies, like Carlson (who owns Friday’s) or Brinker or Darden or McDonalds or even (gasp) Denny’s (anymore). Even in the South.

    A big part of the problem we have in addressing racism is that those of us who are in tune with it’s symptoms often jump to the wrong conclusions. For example, if a newcomer walked into CRCC on a Sunday morning what would he see? What was the demographic like? Representative of the metropolitan DC area? What did those Sunday school classrooms look like?

    “White bread”. With just a smattering of color. In the old days we someone might of said ‘tokenism’. But you and I know that’s not the case at all. Even so,what King said abut the most segregated hour in America still holds true. If only the church could be more like TGIFridays when it comes to diversity.

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