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Black Identity in the Workplace
Building Resilience and Cultivating Success: Strategies for Black Professionals

What you will learn

How to navigate challenges faced by black individuals in professional settings and learn effective strategies

How to evaluate potential workplaces and align personal goals with professional objectives, helping students to carve out successful careers.

How to stay true to your cultural identity and personal values while effectively “fitting in” and excelling in your role

Insights into specific attitude issues that black individuals may encounter in the workplace and how to skillfully respond

How to form strategic alliances in the workplace, and practical advice on networking and relationship building.

How to leverage your success and alliances for the betterment and advancement of your community


This course, as taught by Dr. Eric Betts, is based on the book “Working While Black,” by Attorney Michelle T. Johnson, which explores the unique challenges and experiences faced by African American individuals in the workplace. The key objective is to foster a nuanced understanding of these dynamics, highlighting their relationship with broader societal structures and the potential for individual and collective action to drive change. The material in the course is also a toolkit for those who may be employers or instructors interested in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI.)

In this course, we delve into Johnson’s strategic perspectives on the professional experiences of black individuals. We explore why black professionals need to approach the workplace with a different mindset and a clear strategy, recognizing the unique challenges they face.

The course also provides guidance on assessing potential workplaces, considering your personal goals and internal processes in a manner that aligns with your professional ambitions. It offers counsel on securing your first job or switching careers, presenting strategies on how to identify what you want and achieve it.

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We further discuss the significance of authentic representation and the potential for black professionals to use their position to drive change. As a key figure in a workplace, you can act as a catalyst for change by leveraging your influence and authority. Building strategic alliances in the workplace is also a focal point, as is learning to fit into diverse workplaces without compromising your identity.

This course takes a deep dive into the teachings of “Working While Black” to shed light on the importance of cultural and social competency in the workplace, particularly for black professionals. Drawing parallels with the influential book “Black Faces in High Places”, by Randall Pinckett and Jeffery Robinson, we explore the experiences and strategies of successful black professionals at the pinnacle of their industries. This course underscores the importance of understanding and navigating different cultural spaces within the workplace effectively. It emphasizes the significance of social competence, including communication skills, emotional intelligence, and the ability to understand and respect diversity. We discuss how such competencies can enhance a black professional’s ability to succeed in diverse work environments, overcome barriers, and ascend to leadership roles. The course aligns with the overarching aim of fostering a culturally competent and socially aware cohort of black professionals who can not only succeed in the workplace but also effect meaningful change.

Students will understand the attitude issues that arise specifically for black individuals in the workplace, how to appropriately handle them, and the legal aspects of such situations. They will also learn how to bounce back after being fired or quitting, with a focus on maintaining health and happiness outside of the workplace. This course, therefore, provides a comprehensive guide to navigating the professional sphere as a black individual, armed with insider insights and practical strategies.




Introduction to Black Identity in the Workplace
The Three Categories of Black Professionals
Are you a Survivor, Striver or Thriver?
Rep. Jasmine Crockett: Is She a Survivor, Striver or Thriver?

Positionality and Intentionality in the Workplace

Resume, Application and Presentation
Matching Intention with Agenda as a Black Professional
Black Sounding Names and Playing the Game
White Perception, Background, and Work Culture
Equal Opportunity and Invisible Bias
The Importance of Introspection as a Black Professional