So a few weeks ago, Katie Couric ran a week-long special on her daytime talk show called Katie’s Classified, helping three young women find jobs and giving out employment advice to the audience and whatnot today, they had the three young women on stage after interviews with companies and two received immediate hires. The third received a basket of cosmetics from the company she interviewed and the promise of a second interview with the CEO.
I can’t imagine the embarrassment she must have felt. Stood up on stage, on national television, saved till last, after the other two women received the news that they’d been hired and all she had was a second interview and a basket of cosmetics that looked an awful lot like a piss-poor consolation prize to me.
So that’s pretty bad on its own, right? I mean, it can’t get any worse, can it? Well, of course it can, and it does.
What if I told you that third woman was black and the two before her were perky, blue-eyed white women?
I don’t like to bring race into every situation but I can’t help but do so when it’s as amazingly obvious as it is in this case. Am I claiming that the company discriminated against the young woman because she was black? No. I won’t speculate as to why this woman wasn’t offered a job on the spot like the two other guests.
What troubles me is the fact that she received the news that she hadn’t gotten the job on the air. Why put her through that? Why make a public spectacle of it? Surely the crew and possibly even Katie herself must have known that she only had a second interview to look forward to, so why force her to wait all those agonizing moments on stage, to see her fellow job-seekers get jobs on stage, only to find out that she wouldn’t get to breathe a sigh of relief as those before her did? I guess it just made for better TV.
I’m sure the entire experience, save for the final moments, was an enlightening one for the young black woman and I’m sure the advice she received may yet prove to be invaluable in her future endeavors. But the fact remains that this is another addition to veritable a mountain of evidence that black people, especially our young women, have to work twice as hard to end up getting anywhere and sadly, in this case, virtually nowhere.
President Barack Obama made virtually the same statement in his Morehouse College Commencement address in May of this year, highlighting the constant need for black people to stay hungry and working constantly to get by. What happened that day on Katie’s Classified is just a grim reminder of just how pertinent that statement is to young black men and women in the workplace, and those looking to enter it.
I don’t know what happened to the lone black woman on that stage, and the only one still jobless by the time the show’s end credits rolled. I can only hope she aced her second interview and was offered the job. Perhaps I’m reading too far into this situation. Fortunately, video of the finale was posted on Katie’s website and is embedded below, so you can judge for yourselves.