Was it, wasn’t it?
I was a graduate student in a good department. I really wanted to be there. I was pleased to be there. But gradually I begin to feel uneasy. I was in a cohort with mainly young white men: they were nice, clever, interesting. I was a woman, a brown woman. And I began to notice: each time there was an opportunity, it would be offered to one of them. The teaching, the conference with a professor, a book review. I kept being passed over. Was this sexism? Was this racism?
One of my friends and fellow students noticed and he felt bad. When he was offered something before me (even though I had been there for longer), he suggested me. He said to a professor to offer the teaching she offered to him to me. He was embarrassed but he told me what she said. I wasn’t ready. Was this sexism? Was this racism?
He took the teaching. And perhaps I will never know. But I have a sense that I am passed over in favour of him because of who I am, not because of what I do. I am expecting it to keep happening. I think that is what sexism and racism feel like, an atmosphere of uncertainty surrounding you wherever you go.
Is it? Was it? Wasn’t it?