A few weeks ago while in South Africa on holiday, every time I passed by a bookstore I stopped to check if they had a copy of “We’re Going to Need More Wine” by Gabrielle Union. But from Johannesburg to Cape Town, the book was sold out. And so, as soon as I was back in Canada, I wasted no time trying to find a copy of it in my local library.
The book did not disappoint. Union describes the relentless advocacy needed when you are trying to support children of colour through the school system, gives advice to get over heartbreak, explores why Hollywood is so white, is honest about the power differentials that arise when you have a different income from your partner, describes the pain of miscarriage, talks about importance of investing in people and curating gatherings that matter, shares why you need to find your voice, value yourself, and be brave, and urges her readers to recognize that comparison and tearing people down does nothing for you in addition to many other topics. Overall, Union covers a lot of ground in this book, and reading it felt like spending a weekend or several hours with a wise, honest friend who is not going to hold back in her advice. I loved it.
What stuck with me the most from this book however, is Union’s reflections on career. Over the past two years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of students about building a career of meaningful work, and for me, this book was a reminder that when it comes to finding work as a person of colour, your experiences are not determined solely by what your resume looks like or how good your networking skills are. How employers make space for you and respond to you plays a role in your employment experiences too. And so, given that the average career book does not offer advice on how to navigate the job market as a racialized person, here are five take-aways from the book to help you both navigate the world of work as a racialized person or a co-conspirator trying to support the career journeys of others.