Don't Hire People of Color Just For Diversity - Hire Them Because They're Talented

Natasha Marsh

Over the past five months, Governor Gavin Newsom of California has ended every press conference with, "Answer the call." In his case, it's a plea to California residents to comply with face coverings and stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Similarly, corporations across America have also answered the call when it comes to hiring people of color to tackle the systemic racism that occurs in this country. As a Black writler, I've seen tons of vacancies and job descriptions that state things like "POC preferred," "Looking to diversity our content, specifically who writes our content," and "We want to do better."

Navigating the new desire for my voice has been both exciting and worrisome. Prior to employees and employers speaking out on systemic racism and developing tools to change it, no one had ever seen my writing. I started writing for a Black-owned NYC magazine startup in January of this year. As we continue to grow our following, more and more people have been reading my words, but nothing in comparison to the last few weeks as I continue to answer the call for POC voices from mainstream publications. The exposure has been monumental. I've gone from small growing audiences to big mainstream audiences in a matter of two months. I'm very happy for the work and recognition, but I'm learning that getting a seat at the table doesn't always equate to fair treatment.

You're not bettering a diversity problem or granting an opportunity to a person of color without treating them as an equal. That is a blind spot.

Publications have brought me on board without batting an eye. Partnerships that typically take several encounters to solidify were done in a few days. Where was this energy when I was applying to writing roles last year, when I made it to second and third rounds in the interviewing process just to be told that I "lacked experience"? Back then I believed them but now I wonder if it was code for "We're at our diversity count, but thanks anyways."

I frequent the Twitter account Writers of Color and have emailed numerous editors who have listed writer roles recently and received really questionable replies. Well-known media outlets focused on the fact that I was a POC and didn't care to review my previous work. "Great to hear from you, when can you start?" was the only response I received after my email titled "POC Writer - Writers of Color Inquiry" was sent out. The response came not more than five minutes later, assuring me my work was not examined and all that was noted - and desired - was my ethnicity. When I confronted that team and shared how demeaning it is to select me for an ongoing contract role solely based on my race, I received the following reply: "I'm so sorry. What can we do to make this better?" The answer is simple: offer opportunities to POC creatives without special privileges.

These confrontation emails have placed me in rather awkward positions. Do I decline the prestigious byline? Or do I plead my case and help these companies look inward, remaining optimistic that they'll pay attention to my concerns? I've been in the industry just long enough to understand the expectations around turning an article in quickly. So when a publisher doesn't disclose a specific due date but instead says, "Take as long as you need," it makes me question their intentions. Are you worried about my mental health in light of recent social injustice acts? Or are you falsely anticipating that my research skills and work ethic aren't as defined as white counterparts? While it's noble of you to take my mental health into consideration as I process the daily murders of unarmed Black people, it's absolutely inappropriate to offer me unwarranted special privileges.

Related: Activists - It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Activism Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Activism Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Allotting three times the length to produce a piece is segregation. I want to be treated equally. That is what Black Lives Matter is about - to see our skin tone and ancestry as equal. Hoping that if you see equality, it would stop you from committing unjust acts. I want to be treated as well as you treat white writers. I want to be paid as well as you pay white writers. And I want my experiences and words to matter as much as white counterparts. And this applies to all professions - not just mine. You're not bettering a diversity problem or granting an opportunity to a person of color without treating them as an equal. That is a blind spot. It makes me question my worth and abilities to produce inside the norm. Instead, offer us opportunities not to fill a diversity requirement but because of our expertise, skill set, and work experience.

Imposter syndrome is such a real thing as a creative. You constantly wonder if you're talented enough, smart enough, connected enough, and if your voice is strong enough to make an impact. These things have long been a concern in the Black community. So if you're part of the hiring process at your company, remember: diversifying your content and voices isn't just about finding the talent, it is, arguably, more about respecting it.

More From

  • The Duchess of Cambridge Wore a Face Mask From One of Princess Charlotte's Favorite Designers

    Kate Middleton is forever influencing us with her fashion choices, and now, that influence includes face masks, too. On Tuesday, Kate was seen wearing a face mask in public for the first time during her visit to Baby Basics UK in Sheffield, England. For the occasion, she chose to wear a mask from childrenswear designer Amaia, which was made from Liberty London's floral "Pepper Tana Lawn" pattern. The London-based brand is clearly a favorite of the Cambridges', as Charlotte has worn the designer's clothes for various family occasions. The masks - which are designed in London and made in Spain - are made from double-layer 100-percent cotton, feature a filter pocket, and include five filter refills (you can also purchase of pack of 50 filters from the site). Not only that, but 30 percent of the proceeds will go to NHS Charities Together. As for the rest of her outfit, Kate let the mask stand out by pairing it with her white button-down dress from Suzannah - a piece she previously wore to Wimbledon last July - accessorizing with a sweet necklace featuring George, Charlotte, and Louis's initials. There has been recent speculation on whether the royal family will begin wearing face coverings during their upcoming public engagements as mandated mask wearing in some indoors places came into effect in England last month. Judging by Kate's stylish choice, we predict there will be many more mask moments to come from the duchess. Unsurprisingly, the mask Kate chose is already sold out, proving that her mask-fluence is in full effect. However, there are plenty of other adult and children's masks available in various prints. Or, if you fancy trying your hand at making your own face mask, you can also buy Liberty's "Pepper Tana Lawn" pattern. Read on to see all angles of Kate's pretty mask, and then shop Amaia's other face mask designs.

  • If Planks Bother Your Wrists, Try This Trainer-Approved Ab Move Instead

    Due to extra tender pain in my thumbs and wrists, I've recently had to give a hard pass to planks. Temporarily taking this move out of rotation didn't seem like that big of a deal - until I realized how plank-dominated all of my core workouts really are.

  • 31 Seriously Sexy Movies That Are on Hulu Right Now

    No matter what mood you're in, an evocative movie and a glass of Rosé might be the answer to an enjoyable night at home. These streaming movies, ranging from the sweet Kate & Leopold to the classic Dirty Dancing, feature a ton of steamy scenes that are sure to heat up your screen. Whether it's a romantic comedy, an erotic thriller, or an emotional drama that suits your taste, we've gathered all the hot flicks that are available to stream on Hulu right now! Related: 55 Sex-Filled Films to Stream on Netflix For a Steamy Night In

  • Kate Middleton Keeps Her Kids Close by Wearing a Gold Necklace With Their Initials

    Kate Middleton's kids are close to her heart, even when she's away from home on royal outings. The Duchess of Cambridge met with volunteers at Baby Basics UK on Tuesday, and if you look closely, you'll see the sweetest nod to George, Charlotte, and Louis around her neck. Kate followed in her sister-in-law Meghan Markle's footsteps and chose a necklace featuring her kids' initials from sustainable designer Daniella Draper. How lovely! Naturally, the rest of Kate's outfit is the definition of breezy summer style. She opted for a white button-down dress from Suzannah - a piece she first wore to Wimbledon last July. For the Baby Basics event, Kate changed the way she styled her shirt dress and chose a favorite pair of Tabitha Simmons heels to go with it. She also added a floral Amaia Kids face mask when unpacking boxes or interacting with workers at a closer proximity. Get a look at her whole outfit below, and see her exact necklace. Related: Yes, Kate Middleton Has Mini Tennis Players All Over Her Dress - How Delightful Is That?