Meatball in the Rice

December 6, 2006

No, Im not just my usual hungry self. But I was the only meatball in the rice tonight.
The summer before my Junior year in high school I was in this summer program and it was pretty cool. We all had internships at different businesses around Atlanta. Some were at huge law firms, radio stations and one guy even went on his companies private jet across the country to tag along on a business trip. Me? Well, I had hoped to be at one of those swanky law firms as I was interested in being a lawyer at the time - or a math teacher/radio host.
I was placed at the city's black newspaper - the oldest black daily in the country.
Though it really was the perfect match for me, at the time I was a little jealous of those at law firms with there own offices, which was my top choice for job placement. I mean, they probably wanted to but someone black at the newspaper, I put on my application I was on my high school staff and as my best friend in the program put it - "It's only Six of us Meatballs in the Rice"
Meatballs being the black people in the program. Rice being the 30/40 plus other students who were white.
The program was pretty prestigious and housed at Westminster, one of the city's best private schools. For me it was a major push out of my comfort zone. My neighborhood was majority black. From nursery to high school my schools were black. My church was black. I am the typical black kid from the black suburbs.
I had a great time in the program and was happy i could be just as social when I was a "minority."
But I also knew I liked my comfort zone because damn, it was comfortable.

I love me some Howard (where 3 of the 6 "summer meatballs" went to college) and the fact I can never blame my 'F' on being black, but I also wonder if I should have pushed myself harder out of my comfort zone.
Well tonight, I was the only black person at this focus group for my old internship and I didn't even really notice until the black cleaning lady came in to take out the trash. Formerly Knight Ridder Tribune (now McClatchy) Washington Bureau is now revamping its site. When my former boss emailed me to share what I liked and dislike about websites I had to go. For some reason I knew I was probably one of the few black people invited and I ended up being the only one there.
People may say that integration has hurt the black community more than help it. But its important that we be present in the rooms where decisions are being made. My black bubble is comfortable but in order for things to get better where black people aren't called "loiters" while white people "find food" during a hurricane we gotta get greater diversity in the media. We are more than entertainers and athletes though the majority of our coverage in newspapers depict us as that and that needs to be reflected (Can u tell I just took my ethics in journalism final with stereotypes on it:)? I admit it was awkward when my intern boss gave me the assignment to check out some lip pumping lip gloss (do I look like I need lip pumping?) and it took forever for me to got the courage to tell her I didn't feel comfortable to do a review of the product or use it - though I blamed my reason on me being too young, not that I was black. I did wonder was I given the Kwanzaa assignment because I am black. But that's all a part of popping those joints after sitting comfortably for so long.

To the meatballs!

P.S. I was all pumped (yes, my lips naturally) about doing this post and when I spell checked the thing didn't even recognize "Kwanzaa." See, this is my point.