A Black couple recently had their home valued at $500,000 more after having a white acquaintance masquerade as the owner, according to a recent report. One woman increased a white friend’s status as the owner, which increased the value of her home by more than $100,000.
One Black woman in technology has related a story about how after fabricating a phony white male assistant, people took her more seriously amid the talks about racial inequality in the housing system.
Jamira Burley claimed to the Insider that she has been using the fictitious male personal assistant she names “Matt” for ten years and that this has helped her get jobs in the male-dominated IT business, where Black people are still underrepresented.
“I immediately noticed that Matt garnered a level of respect that I, as Jamira, didn’t,” she wrote to the Insider. “People would offer me more money when Matt was involved, and they treated me as more of a force to be reckoned with.”
And it all began by chance. The 34-year-old said that she had created a unique email address specifically for people to contact her about opportunities. However, she received an email from someone who appeared to believe a third party, such as an assistant, was the one using the contact email account.
So Burley rolled with it, she said. “As a woman of color who works in tech, I’m often the only person like me in the room. Having ‘Matt’ on my side – a person who could be a white man – made me feel more confident,” said Burley. “Talking through a man’s voice helped me be able to ask for things I never would’ve asked for as myself,” she added. “I try to remind myself that to change the rules of the game, you have to get yourself into the room first. Matt helped me get into more rooms.”
But creating Matt did not always feel good, said Burley. And after posting her story on TikTok, she realized that other women do the same thing. “And it’s not just women or women of color who do this — it’s disabled people or people who are a part of any minority group,” she said.
Interestingly, Burley’s fake Matt is based on a real Matt, a close friend she met in high school who until now did not know that he is the inspiration for the fake assistant. “As a white man, he [real Matt] moved through the world with a confidence that it seemed like he was almost born into. I wanted to emulate it, so I did,” said Burley.
In all of these, this is what Burley said she has learned: “We all have to move through the world with the certainty and confidence of a white man. We are just deserving. And until we can ask for what we need ourselves, have Matt ask for you.”
Many Black tech entrepreneurs have found it challenging to obtain funding or be regarded seriously over the years. Only 1% of start-ups obtaining venture financing were black, according to a study of 9,874 U.S. business founders by the California-based social enterprise RateMyInvestor.