Only Caucasian on the bus. Epiphany
Growing up gay, I always knew what it felt like to be different. But my difference was hidden and I didn’t know what it felt like to visibly stand out. In 1989 I moved from northwest Iowa to the District of Colombia to do an internship for my master’s program. On the way to my first day on the job, I boarded the city bus and immediately realized I was the sole white face in a sea of black faces. I had never felt so incredibly white in my life. I experienced a number of reactions including surprise and fear. I didn’t know whether to stare at my shoes or search the crowd for a friendly face. And then…an epiphany: “this is what it feels like.”
– Deb Tiemens, Iowa City, Iowa
Michele Norris is the host of NPR’s All Things Considered and the author of The Grace of Silence.