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Michigan, Prejudice while Seeking Employment

Speaker is from Detroit, MI; she is a 41-year-old black woman with a high school education. The interview took place in 1967.

 

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INFORMANT: They didn’t accept you if you weren’t one of them. Several of them used to tell me that I shouldn’t tell people that I was colored because I didn’t look it. And, um, I still didn’t feel this until I was older and started trying to get a job.

FIELDWORKER: How did it manifest itself then?

INFORMANT: The first time was when I went to the telephone company, and I was very young, and I wanted to apply for a job. And the woman there, the—in personnel—asked me had I had any experience, and I told her no, that I had never held a job, and that I had no kind of experience at all. And she did say that, well, she felt she had a job that I would enjoy, that I could learn very well, and she started filling out an application. And she was filling it out until she came to nationality, and she asked me what was my nationality, and I was stunned, because I had always felt that anyone could look at me and see what I was. And I told her I was colored, and she turned as red as a beet, and she said she was sorry, she didn’t have anything for me.

FIELDWORKER: We’re talking about when now, {what year?

INFORMANT: Now} this was in—

FIELDWORKER: Thirty-nine?

INFORMANT: No, no, no. This was in forty-, about forty-seven. Forty-seven or forty-eight. 

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