I am a token minority.
When I make a comment day-to-day, I am ignored, until someone else more qualified can confirm what I said is right.
I sit next to someone who makes a racist joke but refers to me as their ‘first Black friend’. I serve as convenient social capital—look! I have a minority friend. I’m still a good person.
Tinesha! I would love for you to [do this project/come to this class/tell me about this paper] because we could use a minority. People then take pictures. They get excited. Look! We have a minority in our cause/class/project! I serve to show that diversity exists. I get propped up to show that diversity is real and alive. When I speak, people hear me, but mostly they see me. Wow! I am so, so glad that you came. We really wanted to show that this cause wasn’t just full of White people. I am a convenient representative. If it’s a racial issue, everyone would like me to speak on it.
Wow, Tinesha. You are so well-spoken and well-dressed. I am glad you never fulfilled the stereotype. I am constantly reminded that I am a good minority, a safe minority, because I am doing the right things. I am doing “White things”. You are practically White! I get invited to events as a model minority. Tinesha, you should come to this meeting. There are a lot of minority youth that could really learn from you. I know what they mean to say. They mean to say to me, There are many minority youth that haven’t assimilated like you, Tinesha. Please, teach them how to live the right way.
Tinesha. Is this racist? What do you think? What do People of Color think? You’re bi-racial, you are practically neutral. I am not neutral. I say I am bi-racial, because I am, but I am still a minority. Yes, if you are asking if something is racist, it is racist. I do not have surveys from all the PoC. I cannot call up every minority so that you can be sure that a statement is actually racist and so you can believe that I am right. It should be enough that when I say something is offensive, you stop saying it.
I am a token minority, a convenient minority. In my day to day life, when no one needs to prove diversity, I answer, Yes, that is racist and no one listens. Some people argue with me. Some people sigh about how I’m playing the race card. Some people just move on. But then, someone else speaks up. Someone White. Yes, that is racist. Man, where are all the PoC? We really need more PoC in this group/institution/project.
I’m right here.