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Unheard Stories of

Casual Discrimination

Michel Hobson

Parent | Grandparent | Corporate Training Consultant

...thank you for your help... When will the real trainer get here?"
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Becoming a corporate trainer was a long, arduous journey. I was one of only ten African Americans in the "corporate university" train-the-trainer class - with a class size of over 70 from all around the country. It was expected that not everyone would pass the requirements. It was a year-long journey just to be approved to start.

That was okay.

It was the early 1980's, there were very few of us, and we pulled together to support each other because we knew the deck was stacked against us, and we were our only allies.

Fast forward - many workshops, several certifications, lots of airline miles, and an advanced degree ( M.A. Education - Training and Development) later. I walk into an airline training classroom to "prep" for the week-long class I was asked to conduct. I was the course designer and subject matter expert for this workshop. There would be 2 observers attending, in addition to the 20 participants. Early arrivals begin to show up and I direct them to the coffee, tea, etc.

At 8am sharp, I begin the obligatory "Welcome to training" presentation.

I am interrupted on the second slide, with an audience question. "Thank you for the helpful information, when will the real trainer arrive? Are they delayed due to the weather?"

I pause and internally count to 10, as a couple of audience members look on expectantly, and the 2 observers look embarrassed. Note, this is not my first issue with difficult audience members.

My reply - "Thank you for asking, and let's continue so we can conclude on-time as promised". On the next slide is "About Your Instructor" - with my picture and corporate bio.

It certainly wasn't the only challenge I faced as a corporate trainer / instructional designer who happened to be African American - but unfortunately, it was one of the most public.

The expectation that I could not be the expert, or qualified. I must just be the "welcome committee" or the "class manager".

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