Andrea Donnor, Williamsburg, VA, .
I grew up upper-middle class in leafy New Rochelle, New York outside of the New York City, in a historical Black neighborhood. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee lived 3 houses down. My Dad was an ophthalmologist in Harlem. He made enough money so that my mom could stay at home with me until I was ten. New Rochelle was forced to desegregate and I was bused to the North End for elementary school. When I was in Mrs. Babbitt’s first grade classroom I realized that the Black children were treated differently and I had to be extra-special and work extra hard. This shaped the next 33 years of my life as I worked to prove that I “was not like those other Black people,” I was special. I went to Wellesley College. I went to Harvard Business School. I worked at a top tier consulting firm. I checked the boxes. It took me until I was 39 years old and was sanctioned for sharing my story in the workplace in conjunction with reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” to realize that “white” is not the standard. As much as I contort myself there will always be another bar or hoop. I am not an extra-special Negro. There is talent and light radiating from Black folks all around me. The world does not see it or appreciate it. I am contributing to blocking that light. It stops here.
I am not an extra-special Negro. Black people are all special and talented and worthy. You’re just too unenlightened and blind to see it.