**Last week, I kicked off the Urban Male Chronicles, a series of posts looking into life as a black male professional. I introduced yall to Chris, one of the few brothers I know that’s also in HR. In the process of talking to him, I realized he had a lot to say that many of us could relate to. So I asked him to pen a post (or 2) for SBM. Enjoy the perspective and share your thoughts in the comments. -Slim**

“Being black in Corporate America has its challenges.”

I heard this from a lot of  people when I was making my journey through college. Therefore, I tried my best to prepare myself for the challenges that awaited me,  but never could have imagined the pressure and loneliness that would come with it.

Within the first couple of weeks of employment after graduation, I was slapped by this reality when I looked around the organization and noticed that no one looked like me. Sure. There were older black women sprinkled here and there, but they were counting down to the day they retired and totally consumed with beginning their post-work lives. I wondered why there were so few people like me, but I just sucked it up and put it out of my mind. That worked for a while until the day I participated in a conversation that would change my view on things forever.

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See, I am an HR Business Professional and I was asked to conduct an assessment on why so many people between one and five years of service were leaving the organization, and to present my findings to the senior leadership team. So, the day arrived and I presented to the CEO and his direct reports. Although I was confident in my work, I remember being so nervous for the first couple of minutes but I got through it and finally it was over. I assumed I did well based on all the nodding heads that appeared to understand and agree with my fact findings and recommendations until “it” happened.

The CEO, whom I’d never met prior to this and who I’d only heard people talk of as though he was God, walked over to me and asked if he could have a moment of my time. He told me that he loved my presentation and looked forward to implementing some of my recommendations. However, he had something to tell me and hoped I wouldn’t take offense to it. Now I don’t know about you, but when someone includes “no offense” before telling me something, I instantly get defensive. Nonetheless, I was ready for some constructive criticism, but what I was not ready for was what came out of his mouth next: