Sounding Black?

About 5 years ago now, I had an experience on the phone with a federal government employee who was doing a quick survey on employment/unemployment. I agreed to the survey and began answering simple questions from a male interviewer, like verification of my name, age, etc. I had the option to disclose whether I was a visible minority, and I proudly stated that I was Black. His response was this: “You’re Black? You do not sound Black.” I was offended by his comment, and simply repeated, that I am.

The survey continued with generic questions about transportation, expenses, etc., and ended in about 8 minutes. He spieled off his government scripted “thank-you,” but before he hung up he quickly asked in a lower voice, “Do you have Facebook?” Confused, I answered yes, and then he hung up. About 15 minutes later I got a text from an unknown number: “I had to see if you really were black, lol. You’re voice was no nice.”

I did not take any action on this at the time. I was in shock and kind of confused. After all, this was a representative of my government who had called me. It was more than a month later, and after sharing the story with others who advised me, that I decided to report the call. But I could not find the number he had called from, nor could I remember his name, department or agency. I ended up letting it go, but to this day I share the story because it proves that racism permeates every level of society – even our government – to this very day.

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