I recently took a trip to Augsburg, Germany as part of the City of Dayton’s Sister Cities delegation. In the weeks leading up to my trip, people kept asking me if I was excited. To be honest, I was experiencing some anxiety. As an African American, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In America, we have laws making it illegal to discriminate based on race even though many still experience discrimination. This right does not exist everywhere. I Googled to mentally prepare for what I might experience in another country.
Everyone was welcoming; however, I still felt some anxiety. I found myself making eye contact to check for acceptance. I watched each person’s body language to see if I was being treated any different from others. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted by the end of each day. I feel this same anxiety in the States, especially in communities where I find there is less diversity. The difference is that I know my rights.
Catherine Crosby is the director of the Dayton Human Relations Council (HRC).
Deconstructing Race is a series of commentaries about racial identity by Miami Valley residents. It's co-curated by Dr. Kimberly Barrett, vice president of multicultural affairs and community engagement at Wright State University. The series features ten people of varying ages and racial identities responding to one or more of the following questions: What is your experience with racial identity? Are there pieces of your identity that are frequently misunderstood, invisible, or visible in complicated ways? If you could make one wish about race and identity, what would it be?
Submissions are still open. Send your answer to one or more of the questions above, in 200 words or less, to email@example.com. If your submission is accepted, it will be edited by WYSO and you’ll be asked to come in and record.