How I Learned to Small Talk With White People

I knew my career depended on connecting with people unlike me. Now I want to challenge them, too.

“My dad owns his own construction company,” a colleague was saying to the others gathered in the office kitchen. As more of my co-workers listed their fathers’ powerful-sounding jobs, I felt relieved to be at my desk, figuring I would not have much to add in a group of white people from affluent backgrounds. I don’t know exactly what my dad did at the time, but basically he is a cook who changes jobs often. My white colleagues’ moment of connection was not an opportunity to build work relationships for me, nor was it the first or the last time I was physically and figuratively left out. There were a few reasons why I was sitting at my desk alone.

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