The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of the Project for Open Voices. Today’s essay was authored anonymously for POV’s new publication. POV is always accepting new submissions, so if you want to share your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org — if you prefer to submit anonymously, the login password is kenyoncollege.
I just wanted to thank you. Because of you, fifty other students on this campus have my name and my face memorized. That’s all they will ever care to know about me. Because of you they can spot me in crowded parties and outside the Mather breezeway. When I happen to bump into these random individuals – whose names I don’t remember because you weren’t as nice to them as you were to me – they nod knowingly as I try to introduce myself. “I remember you. You were in my class right? Hahaha!”
Thank you professor. Because of you, I don’t have to go through the extra hassle of introducing myself or genuinely meeting new people. That’s all overrated anyway. Why would I want anyone to look beyond my identity as a student of color or to get over how ethnic and interesting my name sounds? As you were working on memorizing our names you asked John or Jack – I, like you, don’t remember their names either – what sport they played, what their major was. When you found that you couldn’t quite get the pronunciation of my name correct, however, you didn’t care to ask about my major or whether I saw the baseball game. You were more interested in what country my parents had immigrated from. One of the few times you ever asked me to do anything in class, it was to help you pronounce Indian names. Remember how I told you I wasn’t Indian? It’s okay though. I understand, professor. You were confused. I just look so ethnic and I have such an interesting name. How were you supposed to remember that not all brown people hail from India? Especially since you also had to remember that John was a pitcher on the baseball team or that Sally had a sister?
So thanks again professor, for spending most of our class days reminding me of how different I really am. For showing me how the big aspects of my identity as a student here aren’t my major, or my extracurriculars, or my accomplishments as a Kenyon student. It’s the origins of my brown skin and my ethnic name that are most important. Thank you for reminding me that my ethnicity will always be the first, and probably the only, aspect of my identity most people will care to notice. What would I have done without you?