I have it pretty good, in America. I’m White, male, young. Grew up with books. With enough food on the table during critical phases of brain development. In a neighborhood composed of people who looked and spoke like me, a neighborhood with a creek, and trees, and street hockey, somewhere safe. Through deterministic happenstance–a confluence of genetics and education and economics and municipal investment in public education and intellectually challenging parents and the right teachers at pivotal moments–I’m good at thinking about a class of problem which too few people are working on, and present market dynamics allow me to do what I love for far more money than I need.
People grant me the authority to speak as is expected of males, with the lack of recognition of my skin color that comes for people of northern European origin, and for my youth I am forgiven all manner of brash and disrespectful rejoinders. I am significantly more likely to be a victim of a murder, and feel constant pressure to be resolute, correct, gruff. I have never worried for my physical safety in the presence of male companions, and think nothing of walking alone at night. As a motorcyclist and as an engineer I am never the odd one out. I can wear comfortable clothes at formal gatherings. I can enter any building freely, and when boarding a bus, folks never rustle and stare at the delay. I feel tremendously self-conscious when surrounded by people of color. My coworkers never comment about how pretty I am. I am never expected to speak for all young, White males.
I will never have the experience of being a woman; to keep it together when my male coworkers take credit for my ideas and I’m still making $20,000 less than the junior devs fresh out of college. To move from Pakistan to the rural Midwest, to a new culture and bureaucracy, and struggling to learn math my classmates can barely cope with–in a language not my own. To be told all my life that I was White, because the family that adopted me was so much darker, and I was told I had beautiful light skin and to keep from getting tan, and when I moved to New York they called me Black, but I don’t know how to be Black and no one will teach me. To be the only kid from the Rez who went to college, and to have pleaded with admissions to let my dad off the hook for when he wouldn’t lift a fucking drunk-ass finger to fill out the FAFSA, and to remember my grandmother’s strength and intellect and passion: my inspiration always.
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