Mock Interview is comprised of actual interview questions asked by white employers to Black women between the ages of twenty-seven and fifty-eight. I sourced these questions by asking women to tell me an interview question they received that they deemed discriminatory and/or racist.
Afterwards, I recruited, white male students between the ages of twenty and twenty-three, to participate in this piece. I chose white men because they have traditionally dominated the corporate sector, and I believe it is imperative that all races contribute to the conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion. The men were informed that they would be asked discriminatory questions that were previously given to women of color during their interviews, but, as is traditionally the case when interviewing, they did not know the questions in advance.
Overall, I created this video to bring awareness to employment discrimination for women of color and to create a greater sense of empathy.
In her latest series, Am I What You’re Looking For? Ms. Beal focuses on young African-American women who are transitioning from the academic world to the corporate setting, capturing their struggles and uncertainties on how to best present themselves in the professional work space. Her conversation with Whitney Richardson, producer of the Lens blog, has been condensed and edited.
The video, 9 to 5 is a narrative comprised of real interviews given by women of color about their personal experiences with prejudice and racism within the corporate space. Each woman participated in a 5-minute video interview. The similarities between their stories were remarkable and formed the baseline of the narrative. Together, these women become one voice.
Almost every woman has toiled before the mirror, trying desperately to look “professional.” Photographer Endia Beal explored this frustration that occurs so often in the corporate sphere, this feeling of otherness that asks women, quite simply, to change. For minority women this change is often far more difficult, as the ideal corporate appearance remains, in most cases, the white male.
In Office Scene, Beal speaks about an experience that is personal, yet universal to many women of color working within the corporate space. A rumor circulated at work that Beal’s thick, kinky Afro and ethnic hairstyles fascinated her white male colleagues. These men were curious about how her hair felt and wanted to touch it. Beal developed a piece that explores the thin line between personal and private within the workspace. With the melody of spoken word, Beal transform into a voyeuristic actress fulfilling the desires of her male colleagues. However, the viewer is left with their imaginations as the tentative voices of the men discuss conflicted feelings of touching Beal within a very corporate office setting.