Being an educated NABM (North American Black Male)

NABM!.. kinda like what the cops do right?
I don’t like to get into the race debates normally because well lets be honest; no one wins.
Either the offended are seen as too sensitive or the offender is not sensitive enough.
As a Black man, born in America, I have had my fair share.

That being said. I have a unique perspective on how the world views what my dad calls North American Black Males aka African-Americans.

If I was an alien dropped into this world to play sociologist and study this particular group, I’d be quite confounded. Based on media projections, we are constantly incarcerated, lack intellectual dexterity, and only aspire and excel in events and activities that require physical prowess. (i.e. sports and entertainment)

NOW that being said.. there are QUITE a few males like myself who are African-American (For the purposes of this discourse I am focusing on Africans transported and dropped off in the U.S.) that are educated. Some may have an athletic prowess, or an affinity for entertainment. Nonetheless it doesn’t take away from my intellectual capacity in the least bit.

What brought this discussion on?
Well, long story short, I am in the midst of job hunting like many in this erratic economy! And I interviewed with an agency in regards to a position I felt pretty good I qualified for. The interviewer made his discourse about how my “experience” wasn’t relevant though I showed how it was, but hey, arguing is not attractive and well you look desperate if you do.

That wasn’t the part that made me look at him like he just won a glass-chewing contest.

He then shirks his shoulders, looks at my resume and asks, well I know its “not in your background” but “someone like you” should consider working in a call center!

To my readers who are not (NABMs) or work in Human Resources. Its easy to say, “Well you just getting sensitive and he’s just trying to direct you to stable employment.” I’ll buy that, but would you ask a lawyer to consider being a nurse? Would you ask a surgeon to consider being a telemarketer? No, why because you see that they are in a profession or craft, and you would at minimum refer them to something close or at least within range of what they do, if for nothing else to increase the probability of a successful placement (Basic rationale at work)

I respectfully declined on the basis of, it not being a strong suit of mine as well as not wanting to waste that clients time and resources. He then says we will keep you in mind for other customer services positions.


Now, I don’t knock ANYONE doing customer service, that’s a skill and craft in itself; however I know my strengths and weaknesses, and he disregarded my education and the like. His whole body language was as if I asked for a position I dared not apply for!

We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries and I left.
That exchange has led to this discourse. Why is that when Black males are educated and looking to elevate in arenas that are not traditonal, it is scene as offensive? Is it because of the pre-programming that we have become accustomed too? (This can go for any other marginalized group, as well, but again I am focused on N.A.B.M.s)
There are many other diatribes I can go into regarding this. From the “Oh you speak so well!” (Of course, I passed English and learned to talk, I am an American lol) or “For someone of your background, you are so driven and ambitious” (Translates to: why I didn’t know you all can have goals) and personal favorite “That’s an interesting field for you to be in (Translation, shouldn’t you be rapping or working or your jumpshot)

The point I am making is like all segments of people, there is a depth to North American Black Males. I know comrades that are over six feet tall that HATE basketball. I know of young Black males who do NOT like Fried Chicken. (Imagine that)
And yes their are critical thinking North American Black Males that strive for the theoretical and not back breaking labor. No people are one-dimensional! At the risk of offending a few, I post this and want feedback and discussion. I don’t pretend to know it all, just speak on what I see, and how I feel. If you are in Human Resources I definitely want your perspective. (As honest as you can be without jeopardizing your current employment)
I ask now as a job seeker, that doesn’t want to consider things like race in the selection of the best applicant, and want to know objectively what can one do make oneself better.




  1. Well..I can def relate to this. I get told all the time that I shoulda aspire to something else other than what I want to do. BUT..thats the doube edged sword. Sorta like when folks are shocked to learn I have no kids OR that I was once I can neither be a divorcee or childless. Of course I have a baby at home! Of course I LIVE with a man..just foolishness. I feel you. Our education is their intimidation.

  2. This is a very unique discussion, and coming from one educated brother to another. I do feel their are still a few, as they are commonly known, “Good Old Boys”, who I feel can’t get past their on discrepancies and indiscretions, to see potential in anyone who do not fit into their image of a “fine employee.” Due to this attitude you do have to question if this really a company I want to work for? I mean if you are being demeaned in an interview, how much will they value you, when you are employed.

  3. Wow! The persistently high levels of ignorance and bigotry never cease to amaze me. I guess I should be acustomed to such travesties, but yet in 2010 I still find an element of surprise when I read about such tasteless encounters from friends and colleagues. I must say that fortunately, my interactions with such mindless and biligerant individuals, have been few and far between…almost non-existent! Or it may be that my mostly optimistic attitude has clouded my judgement on correctly assessing asinine comments when spewed by fellow classmates or those in the world of academia. Sometimes in retrospect I do find that a frivolous statement made implicitly alluded to derogatory connotations. However, this academic bubble has been somewhat of a comfort for me and I have grown to feel absolutely limitless in potential within this sphere. This is not to say that I have not experienced the “real world” so to speak, indeed I have: I have lived in 4 countries outside of the US, have visited over 10 countries in the Americas and Europe and have interacted with people from all walks of life – from the homeless to multi-millionairs. Socially I am one of the most well-rounded people you will ever meet. However, professionally my experiences have been limited to the arena of academia. I say “limited”, not in a negative sense. As a life-long student and scholar and teacher, education is where I thrive and for someone who desire to be a tenured professor in the not-too-far-away future, I have positioned myself to have a diverse and strong academic and research background. To this end, I have rarely, if ever,found myself wronglfully denied an academic position which I applied for. As someone who will also be a practicing architect, unfortunately I have not yet had time to expose myself to the professional world of architecture, which I’m sure will pose a lot of challenges to me as a black male. However I do remain optimistic, as my academic experience within architecture at both undergraduate and graduate levels has been overall pleasant.

    What I find the most interesting is that most of the that the majority of the negative encounters experienced by most of my black friends have occured as a result of their interactions with other blacks or minorities, either their equals or in positions of authority, who feel threatened by the thought of being uprooted from their “lofty” station in life by another minorty. These are the minorities who would seek to oppress other minorities, least they get “ahead” of them.

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