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  • Seema

i curate my life

Words from an interviewee:

I like calling myself a "foundational African American." My lineage is from victims of the slave trade. My experience is uniquely from that.

I curate my life in a way where it's difficult for somebody to have those kinds of interactions [racist interactions] with me...I don't seem like somebody who is socioeconomically disadvantaged. I don't seem like somebody who is uneducated, so interactions that I have with would-be racists end up being a lot different based on how I handle them and based on how they're going to interact with me....Have I ever had somebody call me a n___r? No. Have I been around on more than one occasion? I can remember when I was in school a teacher of mine who was clearly racist and we all knew this said "You and CJ aren't like the rest of them." Was that directed at me? No. Did it affect me? Absolutely. When I was in law school there was a guy and he's talking about me and one of my friends and he's like, "You're not like the rest of them." I'm like, "the rest of who?" He says, "You know, n____rs."

Systemic things affect me: access to capital, access to the same deals and opportunities that my white counterparts have. I'm in business, I run into that.

When you're born into something, anything, whatever that is. Whatever you're experiencing if it's the same on a regular basis.... And people ask about how Blacks end up with higher blood pressure and other medical conditions. The constant stressor that you may not realize you're under. How do I feel it? If I'm being honest...I had a conversation with some friends during the pandemic. All of us were successful in our 30s. Imagine all that we could have accomplished if we had the same privilege as our white counterparts?

I asked him, "Imagine we had magic, powerful magic, and we wake up tomorrow in a U.S. without racism, what does that feel like?"

I just got goosebumps because it reminded me, I went to Morehouse for undergrad. Morehouse is a Historically Black College. It was the first time, I remember walking on campus after I had been there for a week, and I remember having this feeling of freedom....It was a sense of freedom that I've never had to just be. So I can't imagine -- it's difficult to fathom what it would be like to move through this world knowing that I'm truly operating just from my own integrity, my own hard work, level value system when it comes to race. That would be incredible. It would be a freeing feeling.

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