Race is never the only thing going on in a Black person’s life.
Or anyone’s life for that matter. People “experience” race at the same time they experience sex, gender, wealth, poverty, nationality, or any other aspect of human socialization. All of those things are ever-present and must be known and addressed.
So, if we pass a law making it illegal to segregate schools by race, and then all the White people move away, we need to know that wealth plays a role, gender plays a role, sexual orientation, and many other things, all play a role.
Considering how multiple factors happen all at once, is called “intersectionality”.
Everyone my age currently has a Facebook wall full of first day of school pictures; images of all our friend’s children trekking off to elementary school. It was my first day as well. During introductions we took a straw poll, I am by far the most qualified to give my classmates “timeout”.
We met the Dean, we got SWAG, we were given advice, and did our best to act as if we hadn’t already forgotten half of what we were just told. I did some checking and I’m pretty sure I currently have a C in all my classes. I determined this by dividing the number of people’s names I remembered, by the number of people who remembered my name, realized I was failing in comparison, at which point I inflated my grade to C to make myself feel better. Very scientific.
All was not lost. I knew I belonged simply because of the artwork outside the conference room.
One might think me silly to assume I belong in a place by simply appreciating the decor. Not to worry, I have more proof I was in the right place, a classmates choice of bag. Again, this is all very scientific.
And of course, school must prepare us for the working world, and what is better preparation for that world than happy hour. I remember my first happy hour with co-workers. I was 26, my boss was 25, the rest of my co workers were 23. The entire conversation consisted of the group sharing how they have all evolved in that they now enjoy wine over beer. I was given a written reprimand for not participating in this networking opportunity wholeheartedly.
I would say I learned and grew from that experience, but that would be a lie. I should have realized then I was in the wrong place.
Last night, making small talk with strangers, my new classmates, we talked about architecture, the metrics used in college admissions and the effect they have on the make up of cohorts. Wine was there but it was not the topic.
Of course… as is unavoidable when I am in a bar, I was asked about polygamy and my underwear.