Acceptable Social and Cultural Capital in an Unfair Society
One of the big drivers in starting a new company is to locate in the inner city and employ inner city youth. The unemployment rate among inner city young people in NYC is incredibly high-devastatingly high. Just read this article about a research piece on the subject (link to full article appears at the end, here) :
Small crimes and acts of resistance are often survival skills used by underprivileged youth denied the social and cultural capital necessary to succeed professionally.
Ronny was called in for a job interview at Carrows, a chain restaurant that served $9.99 sirloin steak and shrimp. He called me up, asking for help. I loaned him a crisp white dress shirt, which I had purchased at a discount store when I worked as a server at a steak house during my undergraduate years. I convinced Ronny to wear fitted khakis, rather than his customary baggy jeans. He agreed, on the condition that he would wear his white Nike Air Force Ones. These shoes had been in and out of style since the early 1980s. By 2002, a famous rapper, Nelly, created a popular song named “Air Force Ones,” and famous basketball players such as Kobe Bryant wore these shoes during games. Black and Latino youths in Oakland sometimes even wore them to more formal events such as high school proms, quinceañeras, and weddings. I asked Ronny why he insisted on wearing these shoes in a professional setting. He replied, “Because professionals wear them.”
I continued to prepare Ronny for his interview, helping him develop “acceptable” social and cultural capital. The day of the interview, I walked into the restaurant separately from Ronny. He looked sharp: a professionally dressed, athletically built, charismatic, tall, African American young man with a charming dimple every time he smiled. I was certain he would get the job. I sat down for lunch at a booth, in an attempt to observe Ronny being interviewed.
Ronny tried to use his charisma to connect with the manager, but she kept her distance and did not look at Ronny, seemingly uninterested in what he had to say. At the end of the interview, Ronny stood abruptly and walked away, with no handshake or smile. I ordered my burger to go, paid my bill, and met him in the parking lot. As I headed to the door, I turned to look in the manager’s direction, and she was greeting a white male youth. She smiled, gave him her hand, and offered him a place to sit. Ronny’s first contact with her was not this friendly.
Ronny told me that he had a good feeling and that the manager seemed to like him. I asked him to walk me through the interview. “Why didn’t you shake her hand when you left?” I asked. “Because it was a white lady. You not supposed to shake a white lady’s hand. They be scared of a nigga. They think I’ma try to take their shit or fuck ‘em. I just said thanks and walked out.” Ronny did not get the job.
Read more: http://www.utne.com/politics/social-and-cultural-capital-zm0z12sozlin.aspx?page=2#ixzz25bT72akq