Competing in My Skin
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
By: Jarod Hamilton
As a Black male in America, I am fortunate enough to say that I have not had any real serious situations with police or anything like that. The only thing I can say is how hard I have to work in the classroom and in the workforce.
Not just when it comes to trying to achieve my goal of being a sports broadcaster. I mean everyday jobs too.
I went to one group interview and I had to dress the part of course and the other person who made it out of the interview was a white male who was dressed very casually.
I got the job over him but it still feels, as a black man, I am playing at a disadvantage somehow. I have to be twice as good as my peers [black students] at my university, and four times as good as other people from other schools, so I can get the same opportunity.
An example of how hard I need to work to grasp opportunities is when I underwent a tonsillectomy a few days before the Celebration Bowl (the national championship football game for Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
The doctor ordered me to rest for two weeks after surgery but I couldn't. I had to cover the game like I promised I would do. I even volunteered to drive my car to Atlanta where the game was being held.
At the time I was editor for the sports section “theScore” and I had to report on the game because that is why my school sent me there.
I was only required to write a post-game write up but I wrote another one because I was able to score interviews with the chancellor and athletic director, which I had not originally planned on getting.
I knew that these would be great stories to have in my portfolio and also I wanted to set an example for the rest of the newspaper staff that nothing will stop me from doing my job.
It is the level of commitment you need to have in the real world because in another situation, someone could have gone to the game and wrote great stories and now they could be in a position to replace me. For me, I can make anything a competition so I love healthy competition because winning makes me motivated to be my best, whether that is at school or playing a game of cards.
The reality is, if you’re a minority then competing isn’t really an option. It's to compete or get left where you stand. With everything you do, you should be trying to be the best because you are already at a disadvantage. Not to berate or talk down on white people but systematically you are at a disadvantage. My advice would be, if possible, take no days off and take risks because the good thing about being at a disadvantage is that you have almost nothing to lose.