What Happened When We Discovered What Mattered

“Besides nearly killing me, college taught me several things. Namely, that external identity mattered. Being black mattered. It determined where to get off the Boston subway without receiving a baseball bat to the head. Being the biracial child of a single, white mother determined which whites would beg me, breezily to integrate certain spaces and which black would turn their back, stage-whispering about ‘messed-up Oreos.’ Being female determined the number of times I would cross my professors’ minds, and the number of men who would grope me, curious for integration of a sort. Being from the rural Northwest encouraged peers to smile at my accent and unfamiliarity with the New York Times. Being on financial aid meant I spent my vacations huddled in dormitory rooms with the heat turned off, my afternoons serving Faculty Club highballs to pinstripe-suited recruiters who placed their tips wearily in my hand with a whispered confession: ‘You’re probably better off where you are.’ Yes, the outside mattered, and it all mattered more than what I believed did.”

From Meeting Faith: An Inward Odyssey, the award-wining memoir by Faith Adiele, who venures to Thailand on a Harvard scholarship in order to fully understand—well, everything. Read more memoirs.


Photo: adiele.com

We need your help to get to 5,000 Longreads Members.

Join Longreads now and help us keep going.