Cleaning out my father’s basement, I found my junior high school yearbook. Not really a yearbook, but a book with pictures of each class. Here’s my class:
Can you tell which one is me? Is it hard to tell?
I can’t tell you how often people have told me I don’t know what it’s like to live as a minority. This year wasn’t my only such year. Here is the breakdown by sex and skin color. I’m a significant minority in both ways.
Still, I feel like many people will want to lecture me on how I’m not really a minority since . . . and then they’ll come up with some explanation based on preconceptions. I think people think that living in Greenwich Village and having Ivy League degrees means I grew up in a rich white suburb, though I didn’t realize that assumption until my 30s since I didn’t know what it was like to grow up other than I did, wondering How many times is it normal to be mugged?, not thinking it odd to be Assaulted again in broad daylight, and Growing up in a bad part of town.
I have no idea what it’s like to grow up in a rich neighborhood, a white neighborhood, or a rich, white neighborhood. If you do, let me know. I’m curious. Or if you went to school where most people looked like you.
People lecture me, but nobody asks me if I experienced life as a minority. Nobody asks me what it was like being excluded or marginalized. I wonder what it’s like to grow up not in a minority at school. In my grade school, people had my skin color, but it was religious by a religion that when I grew up I realized I didn’t believe in so don’t feel I ever belonged to. I don’t believe parents can or should force a religion on a child as a result of the anguish and alienation I felt later. I’ve posted about how this experience affected me (combined with my father’s sternness).
My high school
For a long time, I told people my high school breakdown was about 40 percent each white and black, 15 percent Asian, and 5 percent of everyone else, but I didn’t know how to find official numbers. I never thought until making the table above for junior high to make it for high school. I got out my yearbook and took four minutes to count everyone to make the table below for my senior class. I remember there being attrition each year, which I don’t believe was equally distributed, but I don’t have data for it.
Again, I was a minority by skin color. I wasn’t a minority as a boy since my high school used to be all male, with an all female school across the street. Girls were admitted to my school a year or two before I went, though boys remained (and remain) excluded from the school across the street, so if you include both high schools, I was again a minority by sex too.
I wonder what it’s like to go to school not as a minority. I wonder what it’s like as an adult for people’s assumptions about me to be accurate in these areas.
EDIT: I followed this post up the next day: Following up yesterday’s post: “Whom would you call a minority in this picture?”
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