Sadly, sometimes pretending to be a white man in America is the quickest way to gain respect as a businesswoman — especially if you’re Black.
“I immediately noticed that Matt garnered a level of respect that I, as Jamira, didn’t,” she wrote. “People would offer me more money when Matt was involved, and they treated me as more of a force to be reckoned with.”
Burley recalls the incident, which she says was an accident, that led to creating Matt.
It all started when she created a separate email account for people to use to contact her with opportunities. After receiving a response from a person that assumed they were speaking with an assistant, she decided to stick with it.
“As a woman of color who works in tech, I’m often the only person like me in the room,” said Burley. “Having ‘Matt’ on my side – a person who could be a white man – made me feel more confident. Talking through a man’s voice helped me be able to ask for things I never would’ve asked for as myself.”
Are Fake White Men The Norm?
While Burley does feel like she sort of cracked the code by creating Matt, she admits that it didn’t always feel good. She also noted that after sharing her story via TikTok, she realized that she wasn’t the only one who had done such a thing.
In a video that was viewed more than 550,000 times, the 34-year-old revealed, “People treat you entirely differently when they think you have an assistant and also when that assistant is male.”
What’s more, the comments on the post spoke to all of the women and women of color who had also created their own versions of Matt, but it didn’t stop there.
“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,” said Burley in the essay.
The Real Matt
For Burley, Matt, who was actually inspired by a white male and friend of hers with the same name, is a reminder.
“This is what I’ve learned: We all have to move through the world with the certainty and confidence of a white man. We are just deserving,” she concluded via Insider. “And until we can ask for what we need ourselves, have Matt ask for you.”