Well, this is the space to be honest myself, so let me go all in and get painfully honest. Identifying as a person of color is relatively new for me. For a long time, I abdicated that status because it seemed like something I did not deserve, and conversely, also something that I hesitated to associate with. I upheld the white hegemony by accepting the role of “model minority;” I guess the ostracized-nerd part of me thought that being accepted as a “good minority” was a fragile gift that I couldn’t afford to lose, and I might lose it by becoming critical, incisive, disruptive, “ungrateful.” I don’t remember anymore at what point I became aware that this was what I had been doing, but it makes me sort of nauseous to think of it now.
I went to Wesleyan University, a prideful small liberal arts college in Connecticut. It was a place where experimentation of many kinds was encouraged, and the part of me that questions critically was definitely developed there; yet unavoidably, it was also historically and culturally a PWI there were many ways in which I could not reassure myself that I would be safe donning some aspects of my current identity until after I had graduated.
I worked in a library on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for a couple years before moving on to library school at St. John’s University. By that time, I was unavoidably aware of the whiteness problem of librarianship, so it didn’t particularly surprise me to find it reflected in the student demographics of my program. At the time, I was also regularly expending mental and emotional energy confronting the unsettling feelings of being bi and having a very liberal liberal-arts background in a Catholic school. So, much as I did in undergrad, I compartmentalized those issues until such time as I became safely employed. Now, I’m getting down to the business of making up for lost time.