Reasons You Can’t Get a Job

“That thing” on your head scares people
Hijab is not professional
You won’t fit our company culture in that
Yes we know your right to hijab is protected by law, but
You don’t wear it the right way
And what religion exactly are you?
Because that is our right to know, so we can
decide if you fall under the law or not anyway

Piercings and tattoos are not sanitary
And they scare customers
They are not professional
Maybe if you keep them covered at all times
Yes, we know the irony is that the person telling you
to cover yours has one that they never cover
But yours are bigger
and not ladylike
Not professional

Why don’t you have a degree?
I thought you had a degree
I thought you were a social worker or something
You know a lot about things
But alas, you do not have a degree
We respect degrees
A degree proves something
We aren’t sure what, but you don’t have it

But we see here you used to make more
You won’t be happy in this position
We don’t think you’ll stay
But we see here you used to make more
And we don’t pay like that
So don’t expect to make that here
I can’t believe anyone paid you that much
You must think you’re really special, huh?

You are fat
Being fat is a choice and it is immoral
It means you are lazy
It means you don’t care about yourself
Clients will judge our commitment to health
You are even happy being fat
You’re not supposed to smile and dress sexy
and seem so confident

You can’t stand for long periods
or lift 50 plus pounds
and no, we don’t do accommodations
You need to be able to bend over
and file things for hours
You just aren’t suited to the work
It’s not discrimination
you just can’t really do the job

You have a bad attitude
We heard you said a coworker at your last job
was racist
You can’t just go around calling people racist
You could ruin their life with a charge like that
You don’t get along with others
and have terrible customer service
The customer is always right means they can
say anything they want to or about you
and you are supposed to smile
And you make some of your male co-workers uncomfortable
because you don’t demean yourself enough to them
and you said that innocent joke was sexist
And you’re not supposed to have your own ideas

You overstep your role
We put you in lower roles so that you will do our work
But you’re not to presume to speak up
Like you actually know anything about the subject
Because that will make us look like we don’t know
or like we don’t do our own work

You are anti-social.
You refuse to come to Christmas parties
or go out to the bar after work
We don’t understand why you consider
off-the-clock time to be your own
or why you would prioritize anything else
over hanging out with us while we get drunk
We are a lot of fun
You are not

You aren’t dark enough for us to get credit
for hiring a person of color
and you don’t speak Spanish well enough
for your value to be bilingualism
To us you’re just another white girl
But you’re neither cute nor submissive enough
and you always bring up race and disability and class and sexism and cissexism and homophobia and white supremacy and systems of oppression and
you make us look bad

We read your public Twitter
You say “fuck” a lot


Find more from Aaminah Shakur on their website.

Image credit: original artwork by the author, Aaminah Shakur


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artist, art historian, culture critic, editor, healer, poet, writer, a force of nature

9 thoughts on “Reasons You Can’t Get a Job

  1. Very nice explanation and experimental poem of why so many of us these days are locked out of the traditional employment markets.


  2. Very nice explanation and experimental poem about why so many of us these days are locked out of traditional employment markets.


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