About the Author

Kathryn H. Ross is the author of memoir Black Was Not A Label (2019, Pronto) and poetry chapbook Count It All Loss (2021, GoldScriptCo). She writes and edits in Southern California and loves cats and naps. Read her prose, essays, and poetry at speakthewritelanguage.com.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Yes. On the job!! White people continue to ignore their own sin, racism. They have never com clean. They lie and keep covering it and it’s worse to see our own people do it. They keep tripping over their own sin century after century. All people who have died and been victimized by racism are real. Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor.” And when we wrong others we are to seek forgiveness. True forgiveness.

  2. WOW!! Thank you for sharing!! This piece speaks VOLUMES!! We are not unaccustomed to be one of the only – or few – in a room, but to hear the remarks shared is disturbing just hearing about it. So I can only imagine the angst you felt.

  3. Ohmygosh yes, was in a podunct town for a job retreat. We stopped in a restaurant and everyone just stopped eating when I walked in. You could hear a pin drop.

    I felt very unsafe, but I had safe coworkers with me and even they knew what was going down.

  4. Wow. Your story triggered some many emotions. Fear, sadness, anger, and rage. What journey led this man to such self hatred? Can’t call it anything else.

  5. Yes I been in environments where I felt unsafe. When I felt that I was unsafe I left. Maybe it is a sort of 6th sense that God gave us to discern when we have stumbled into danger. Not sure. My only advice if you feel unsafe just head for the exit.

  6. I was just having this conversation with a friend. The sad part is that we aren’t allowed to feel discomfort in spaces that bring us discomfort. Try sharing it! I dare you. You will be attacked.

  7. Think that it takes some people decades to feel. comfortable in their own skin in our country, maybe because so many Americans do no support inclusion and belonging. The gentleman was afraid to be himself. In the South, where I live, many white and people of color are even afraid to genuinely be themselves. There is just a lot of pretense going around here. I am sorry that you had this experience. Those of us who went through Jim Crow, I think, believed that all of this would have changed by now. Slavery was a powerful institution. Thank you for sharing.

  8. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around your experience. It’s 2023 and yet Malcolm X’s question who taught you to hate yourself is still very relevant.

    It’s disheartening that this black couple who clearly have a platform choose to cater to the fears and excuses of the majority in that room that night.

    I’m glad you and your friend made it out safely.

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