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As a response to the letter from Tanya F. [who said factors other than race may prevent some minority candidates from getting an internship or job, AA, Feb. 20], here is a description of one of my interviews:

I first sent out a mailing with some samples of my work and a resume. An agency with billings over $100 million called me, one of the principles. We talked for over an hour and he invited me to fly out for an interview.

Although I'm a writer, I wore a suit. Rental car waiting for me, I drove to the agency. I arrived on time. Book in hand, I told the receptionist who I was and who I was there to see. The receptionist did not page the person I had talked to, but left the reception area unattended to tell him I was there. I must be special, I thought.

She returned and showed me to his office. He met me at the door, we shook hands and exchanged introductions. Then he told me he was going to be honest with me, and that he didn't think his clients were ready to deal with a black copywriter. The interview was over. I drove back to the airport and went home.

I could tell you about flying into an airport and having the creative director walk past me and ask white men in shorts and T-shirts if they were me. I stood there in a suit with my portfolio in my hand. Or having an instructor at the Portfolio Center in Atlanta tell me that my people were not "quick enough for advertising." But then I would be using my race as an excuse.

I'll let you tell me what you think the reason is. Oh, but we can't do that, can we? You didn't have the conviction and courage to use your last name or address. Well, here's mine.

Derek Walker


Milwaukee, Wis.

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