What Can You Do If You Are Blackballed?


I am not sure how to explain how I got on the wrong side of someone with a lot of power. But I was forced off my job as a teacher by someone threatening and inciting the students to give me a more than average difficult way to go. Threatened if they did not refuse my assistance on any issue. Forced to stop taking technical music courses as a nontraditional student. I do not want politics or issues of any kind. I just want to study, work and perform. My new job lasted two months. New workers gathered to force me out. I am not sure why but it is all connected. I would never incite a riot as some accused me of. I don’t want to be a social advocate. I want to study, work, and perform. What can I do?




Dear Anonymous:

Blackballed? Put that thought behind you. From what you say, you have been pushed about and out, but not blackballed. To be blackballed is to have past employers prevent you from getting a job in the future.

Pushed out? Yes. But your brief description does not provide enough information for me to diagnose excactly why, nor is it necessary for you to provide more. The fact is that your “new job” lasted just two months, and that you want another job in music that will be a good one. Possibly you already know enough why you were forced out, and it will be best for you to put it all behind and not wallow in wondering and blaming–at least not to allow this unhappy experience with all its details to play over and over in your mind or in conversations with family and friends. Why? Because doing so can cause others to wish you would get over it, and you to be stressed, depressed, and not to shake the dust off and do what needs to be done to get you the kind of job you want. However, this does not mean you should not learn from this sad job experience. I advise that you take the time to review what occurred; what you did and did not do, what was said to you, and how it could be perceived that you incited students. Perhaps you might talk with those in charge who fired you and even to those you think pushed you out. Ask for advice. Tell them you want to be a competent and respected instructor. Apologize if you have done something wrong. But do not if you have not.

Once you have gotten that information, reflect on it and make plans for the future. Don’t be defensive, rationalize that none of what happened is your fault, and belabor it. As I said, don’t wallow in it. Plan for the future. The unhappy fact is that in almost every workplace there are some people who are difficult to work with, and one must learn how to be assertive and avoid being verbally abused. Also and more importantly, almost every workplace needs competent, cooperative people; especially those who are cheerleaders of others. If you need a job coach, such as someone in the school where you are taking instruction, one can be acquired as you become more accomplished in the musical skills you are learning.

You have chosen music. You must have some talent. Many people, including me, envy and wish we were able to make music. So plan and follow through with preparation. There is no substitute for competence. And also cultivate the job skills of instruction; how to manage, motivate, and discipline students in a respectful way, how to consult, follow instructions of superiors, how to collaborate, how to be a team-player, and how to carry yourself as a professional in dress and communication. Does this make sense? If so, the confusion and hurt you now suffer will heal.

We become what captures our attention and time. So make music. And please report how your career progresses. Independent-mindedness is important when coupled with interdependent-mindedness. That is what I mean by WEGO.

William Gorden