On Wednesday, Dec. 2, I had a brief Twitter conversation with Luo, who explained — as I suspected — that the focus on men was due to the extremely high unemployment rate within that demographic.
Let me be clear, I think focusing on black men is fine, but I also think that should have been explicitly stated in the article, because without it, the piece merely continues to erase women’s voices from the narrative of black life. Especially since this was the nut graf: “That race remains a serious obstacle in the job market for African-Americans, even those with degrees from respected colleges, may seem to some people a jarring contrast to decades of progress by blacks, culminating in President Obama’s election.” There’s nothing in there that speaks solely of black men.
On Friday, Dec. 5, the Times posted another story by Luo, which included voices of women who are ‘whitening’ their resumes:
Yvonne Orr, also searching for work in Chicago, removed her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University, a historically black college, leaving just her master’s degree from Spertus Institute, a Jewish school. She also deleted a position she once held at an African-American nonprofit organization and rearranged her references so the first people listed were not black.
I do wonder, however, why stripping one’s resume of signs of blackness equals “whitening” it. By not advertising that she went to Hampton, Orr is attempting to take blackness (and the potential negatives which accompany it) out of the equation, not add whiteness. What I mean to say is, whiteness isn’t the opposite of blackness, and it certainly isn’t the baseline ethnicity — or, at least, it shouldn’t be considered as such.
*Adam also added a question that has bothered me in the past: amidst the Deval Patricks and Cory Bookers, where are the superstar black women politicians? (Note, I know there is an overrepresentation of women in the Congressional Black Caucus versus all women in Congress, but I theorize that this mirrors the overrepresentation of black women in the workforce.)