Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Isolation and Assimilation

In the past year or so, I've found myself reading the online magazine Slate quite a bit. It skews just a touch more conservative than me, which I value greatly (I don't want to read my own opinions written by someone more talented than I). But of course, I also value the coverage of issues which I'm not paying attention to.

Today, I read Justice Girls: The female justices begin to reflect on feminism. I'm speechless. Incredulous. Stunned. Mostly at the Rehnquist maneuvering, but also that I'm not more sensitive to someone being an "only."

I've been the only black guy for most of my life, so maybe I'll give myself a small pass. I've never had a problem hanging out in a sea of white faces (I'm still working on my book, Growing Up White in Orange County; So far, I've got the title). It's a little difficult for me, even today, to get in touch with that feeling of isolation. It really only happens when someone says something which they don't regard as racist, but I do.

I recently told someone that when I meet new white people, it usually takes me speaking (without the blackcent) for others to become comfortable with the idea that I'm a peer. To me, that's not a conscious attempt at assimilation, it's just how I speak. I do often wonder, though, why other people don't make an effort to speak without the accent. Rightly or wrongly, I think it correlates with comfort levels, and thus ability to make more money. That's anyone with an accent, by the way, including me. I think there are situations in which I'm bounded by a California accent.

I've actually seen women do something similar, taking on a "one of the guys" persona. I wonder whether that helps or hurts? No idea.

Wow, I'm blathering, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg could give a rat's ass about how I speak.

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