By Sowhatiff Jenkins
This is a question that I have been asked in more than one way by the majority population. For undergrad, I attended a majority white university. Big surprise. For grad school, the same thing. For those of you in the workforce, I’m sure you too have to deal with the same thing: being one of very few black people, or minorities in general, in any given situation, be it sitting in the classroom, or heading to the break room to warm up lunch.
Thoughts about this come up without outside prompting. I know I have stopped myself a few times as I feel myself congregating with or gravitating to people simply because they are black. Sometimes I find myself wanting to fight this urge, mostly in an effort to expand my social circle and learn to be comfortable with others. Forgive me, as I grew up in an all black and Latino town, and went to an all black and Latino high school. Anyway, I am always intrigued when asked by a classmate or colleague of mine, what it is that makes black folks “stick together” so to speak.
Sometimes this question it carries with it a connotation of “Damn, black people stay segregating themselves.” This has got to be my favorite. When I walk into my classroom of 100 students, and about 10 of the students are black, and scattered randomly throughout the room, I don’t ask myself “Damn why are all the white people sitting together?” When you make up the majority, it is likely that you’ll end up sitting next to someone that looks like you.
So why is there beef when I want to save 6 seats for my friends? Its probably because we stick out like sore thumbs: All the chocolate and caramel folks lined up in a row. People assume that we do this because we are trying to keep them out, but why can’t we just be trying to get in where we fit in? What’s wrong with me trying to be comfortable?
I think the issue comes up because people in any given majority don’t have to think about being a part of that majority. When people all around you are ::insert any group distinction here:: just like you, you don’t have to think about fitting in, because you just do.
People are too sensitive sometimes. My wanting to sit with my black friends has less to do with me not wanting to sitting next you, and more to do with me wanting to sit with my friends. I mean, can I live?