Unlike part 1, part 2 focuses on being taken for granted as a person. I am a black female in engineering getting her PhD. I am in the 1% at my university. This is standard at most universities. I have to constantly wonder if I am where I am because of my talent, my gender, or my race. Many times, I understand that I am where I am because of my talent. However, there are many instances where people passively point out my color and my race. I cannot count the number of times I heard, “you’ll be fine, you’re a black female in engineering.” Or, “you’ll get a job because people want diversity.” I want diversity too, but is diversity at the expense of a talented white male fair? How do we quantify when diversity outweighs talent? How do we decide when to diversify? How do we decide how to diversify ethically?
Likewise, how do we decide when a high profile event was an act of racism or an act of stupidity or a mistake? I’m not here to argue that there isn’t still racism in the United States. There is, there always has been, it just hasn’t always been obvious. I know there are people who would say that I have been blind to it in my life. I will admit that for a large portion of my life I was, because my parents shielded me from it. I am very thankful they did, I truly believe if they hadn’t I would not be where I am today. The issues were presented to me when I was ready for them and I think that has helped me tremendously in my life. However, when the issues were presented to me, I made a big choice to ignore it while fighting it. I don’t want to be the person that assumes everybody is against me because I’m black. I want to be the person who proves that the stereotypes I grew up with are false. I don’t need to scream it, and I don’t need to be Rosa Parks. I feel my calling is to demonstrate my abilities and help others see the potential in minorities.
I believe we need to start young. This has always been true for me. I believe children need to see they have potential, and I think the best way for children to see it is to hear it from the people who have achieved it. Over the summer especially I made sure that I was taking volunteer opportunities that allowed me to work with children and show them that anybody can succeed, that they were intelligent, and that they could do it. I know that there were children I made a positive impact on in just one day. Imagine what we as a society could do if everybody had this attitude all the time!
Whether we’re thinking about the children we want the world to be better for or the adults that we failed—because this dream that I’m expressing was the same dream my parents and my parents’ parents had. There are very obvious obstacles right in front of us. How can we say that there is equality for anybody in this world? Even since I started writing this post I have seen articles that make me wonder how we live in this world. I have seen people make statements that make me wonder what we as a society are doing to ourselves. We’re destroying ourselves. We are destroying ourselves in the Americas, Europe, Asia, everywhere. This is not a local problem, it is a worldwide problem. Assuming that what we’re facing in America is localized is like saying the Holocaust only affected Germans or Jews. People have a problem. Not the American people. Not the Iranian people. Not the Sierra Leonean people. People. Have. A. Problem. We need to fix it.