The office where I work doesn’t have a lot of diversity mostly because it’s so tiny. There are about ten full time people and occasional contractors. I’m the only woman in this branch. The only person of color is a co-worker who is half Indian and half Irish.
In a money-saving effort, I don’t usually go out to lunch with the guys, so I don’t get to have very meaningful conversations with them.
A while back, though, I did decide to go with them to lunch. I was in the car with four boys and they are all brilliant and confident. I, with my English degree, rarely feel intelligent enough to jump into their conversations. A lot of it is about politics, economics, and technology; all things I understand very little of.
Somehow on this particular day, the conversation in the car on the way back to the office turned to human nature and whether at our core we are good or evil. Now, that’s my kind of subject!
I tried to pipe up with my thoughts, but I have a quiet voice and I’m not often heard.
I believe that people are naturally good and those instincts get corrupted by fear and the illusion of scarcity. I managed to express a little of that to the boys and my half-Indian co-worker, knowing that I’m Hindu, said, “Don’t forget, I’m actually from there. My great uncle killed his brother over land” (Or something to that effect, this conversation was a few months ago).
The conversation was off in another direction before I could even say, “But do you really think that was his true nature?”
The thing that really stung me, though, was the “I’m actually from there.” From the tone of his voice it seemed clear to me that he thinks I have some fantasy idea of India and he is the real authority because of his ethnicity. He’s as American as I am, but somehow I have no authority to speak on Indian philosophy.