Until age 13 I thought all of St. Louis was black and that most white people were just school teachers and people you saw on television. Then we moved and CULTURE SHOCK, things got different. At first, this was depressing and isolating, but as I pursued my journalism career life took me to places where I was often the only black person on the job or in the neighborhood. In the end, I learned that I could be comfortable anywhere (and with almost anyone) as long as I maintained true to who I was at my core. I elaborate on this for Clutch Magazine this Tuesday.
Here's a snippet:
For the longest time, every place I worked post-college I was the only black person working there. I was the only black person at my first internship, the only black person at my first job in advertising, the only black reporter at the Midland Reporter-Telegram in Texas and the only black reporter at The Bakersfield Californian. But I didn’t “feel” like I was alone. Even though, at times, a few people refused to see me as a person, I never stopped judging others on their individual actions and merits – not the “sins of the whole.” Some black people were good and some were bad. It was the same for every group of people. So while being in mostly white or Latino enclaves like Midland and Bakersfield should have been isolating, they weren’t. I went about making friends the same way I did in my mostly black world in St. Louis. I sought people who shared my values and interests. I also sought people ENTIRELY different from me. (Lemme tell you about my Bakersfield punk rock experience sometime.) I learned the world is bigger than just North St. Louis County and black and white and came to appreciate both the world at large and my own culture MORE for it. Learning to love one didn’t diminish the other. It only seemed to better clarify it an enhance it.