I feel uncomfortable with you here.

Terrie,
East Palo Alto, CA.

Soon after moving to an exciting silicon valley in the first years of the internet boom, it felt like anything was possible in this new world. I was invited by a friend to a party given by a start-up founder, held at his home. We arrived separately from my friend and settled in with my 6 month old. After sitting and chatting for a while, I fixed a plate and sat down to eat. It was then that the hostess came to my side and told me, “I don’t feel comfortable with you in my house.” I was the only African American present, other than my infant. I looked around me as everyone else, people I had been chatting with a moment before, averted their gazes. My embarrassment mounted as I gathered my things, my baby, and my husband and left. My friend apologized, but I just couldn’t face her again after this experience, and that was the end of our budding friendship. I didn’t feel the same about the ‘wild, free’ tech industry after that. I wish that even one person had stood up for me.

 

Tweets by Michele Norris