If I was Black

If I was Black

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Oldest of three, struggled to stay engaged in school, dropped out of college, has a hard time forming friendships, father died early, racked up debt, went from job to job.

My biography isn’t too different from most stereotypical ‘Black Kids.’

Except in my case, that’s read as from an average middle-class family, not challenged enough in class, IT-dropout-startup-material, nerd, suffered through tragedy, willing to take risk, with a diverse set of work experience.

This is what some of my privilege looks like:

I’ve had debt collectors and the police knock on my door more than once. At times I wasn’t even able to pay rent. Still, whoever confronted me always treated me, if not respectfully, at least civilly. I was never yelled at, threatened, talked over, blamed – instead, I was listened to, taken seriously, and in most cases, able to talk my way out of more severe repercussions. If I was black, I might have been evicted or even gone to jail.

I was also able to find new jobs quickly and for good money. Potential employers rarely questioned my credentials and achievements, however flimsy they were. I never lost an opportunity or was passed over for someone less qualified, who had a different skin color. Nobody passed my achievements off as theirs. If I was black, I’d have had to work much, much harder, to have it half as easy.

And, more than anything, I was able to move safely in this city. I was there, the day Jonny K. was killed. I walked through that same street just an hour or so before. I may even have passed those people that killed him. But nobody bothered me. I don’t look ‘other.’
Some nazis I ran in to beat me up once, sure. But after I went down, they laughed and moved on. No kicks, no rocks, I was bruised and barely even scratched. I was able to stand up and walk home. If I was black, I might well have been dead then and there.

I’ve never been looked at with suspicion in a shop, subjected to random inspection by the police, spit on or pushed around. I’ve never had people leave the subway seats or even car because I sat down in it. I’ve never been called derogatory names in the street. Parents don’t call their children away if I walk past them on the sidewalk. If I was black, those things might happen to me every day.

I can’t imagine what my life would be like, living in these circumstances. I know for sure that it would be a struggle, much bigger than what I ever had to go through just because I was black.

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