That’s the first line of an article I wrote 19 years ago for the Orlando Sentinel when my daughter was in elementary school. Today, I’m reminded of it for 3 reasons: (1) Leonard Pitts’ article below, (2) a recent conversation with a dear friend of mine who is a white male, and (3) my own experiences as a “multi-cultural” and “multi-lingual” woman of color. My description of myself that way may surprise you just like it did the audience for a talk I gave. Growing up, I was almost always the only black person in my classes. When I reached my junior year of high school, I was ALWAYS the only black person in my classes. I learned how to adapt and fit into “white environments” and how to still get along within “my own.” I had to. Multi-cultural. Multi-lingual. When I entered Corporate America, I progressed further in my “fluency.” I, like other people of color, know about being the only “one” on the team, the only “one” in the meeting, or the only “one” in the boardroom. I’ve never heard these stories from white people. Pitts’ article doesn’t have to further divide us or generate unproductive debate. It can open a door for ALL of us to bravely share how we experience the world.
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