Tuesday, February 14, 2023

the last book I ever read (A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, excerpt thirteen)

from A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib:

My first job at the hip healthcare start-up was to take calls and chats from doctors and medical professionals who had questions about the healthcare software the start-up invented—a software that makes the tricky process of obtaining prior authorizations easier. On the phone, doctors asked me to spell my name twice, or sometimes three times. Upon the second or third spelling, some exclaimed, “I’m not even gonna try to say that one.” These are people who, I imagine, went through several years of school. During product demos, where I talked to a group of doctors or nurses, there were days where we spent more time on my name and where I’m from than we did talking about the product itself. If you have a name like my name and you get asked its origins enough, you can tell when the line between eager curiosity and skepticism is being blurred, mostly because the people who imagine themselves good at hiding the tonal difference between the two are not actually that good at hiding the tonal difference between the two. When I told people that I’m from Ohio, they wanted to know where my parents are from, or where their parents are from. It is amazing, the weapons people disguise in small talk.

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