Maintaining Blackness in a White Space

An article by Kennedy P. Buck for Professor Lynn Waltz's class

Many Black journalists within the entertainment world fight for more diversity as racism is forefront in the headlines. The top entertainment company in the country, Walt Disney, continues to recruit and reassure Black students that they will not only be embraced but will also be comfortable if offered a position within the company.

Courtnee Collier, the public relations manager of Walt Disney World Resort, was a part of a recruiting panel about internships for students who attend her alma mater, Hampton University. Collier said she maintains her blackness in a majority white space through balance.

"You're going to be the only Black person sometimes in these spaces and it's going to shock you," She said. "The key is to be able to balance how you interact with other races while also staying true within your blackness. It can be hard because you don't want to be too much, but you also don't want someone to question you. That's why you have to find that balance."

The advice to these Hampton University students did not stop there. Christina Powell, a 2017 graduate of Hampton University, talked about her experience as a young Black producer within the Disney world and how it led her to become a producer on the Emmy winning Talk-show: The Tamron Hall Show.

"There were many times I was the only Black person in the room, but I did not let that hold me back, I let my work speak for itself," She said. "I let my work do the talking for me where they never had to question my Blackness, because they knew I could deliver and that is why I am in the position I'm in today."

Barry Dillard, the vice president of risk management of Walt Disney World and also another graduate of Hampton University, touched on his own advice from the Executive side of Walt Disney. "I rely on communication," Dillard said. "If something is wrong, relay it to the people above you. Communication is key."

The panelists also touched on how to stand out to gain a competitive internship. They gave good advice such as to always research the company before an interview and how to sell skills and campus activates so the color of the students' skin would not even be a factor.

"You have to sell yourself on paper where they never even have to question your culture or your skin," Collier said. "If I'm being honest these white college students are coming into these interviews and they know their stuff. Stand out and research."

Even though the panel discussion was brief, the advice from the Hampton alum resonated with many students. Students were able to see that if they continue to work hard and reach high then they can achieve their dreams.

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