Nadia A., 33
Most hated stereotype: That people who look like me (young, big hair, Black, etc.) are token.
After a long week of socializing – for work and for pleasure – Nadia often finds herself on her couch, being watched by the television, embracing a bit of solitude.
A self-proclaimed introvert, Nadia deals a lot in people, whether it’s cultivating old and new friendships or working on behalf of others to make sure they’re included, heard and afforded a bit of equity.
“As the youngest child, I believe in fairness. Representing and championing the interest of those systematically excluded is everyone’s responsibility as a human,” she said. “It is extremely important when you are talking about issues and items that directly impact the lives of people and it is only right, just, fair, that their voices are also heard and included.”
Often one of few brown faces in professional settings, Nadia feels a responsibility to speak for those who are often overlooked.
Her dissertation included interviews with residents of Wilmington, Del. about their involvement in development in the city. (Spoiler: they didn’t feel included) For her sorority and work-related organizations, she has worked on social and diversity issues. At work, managing federal affairs for a storied transportation giant, Nadia often brings her background and experiences to the table to provide a perspective that policy makers and researchers may not consider.
These efforts keep her busy and are often littered with stereotypes.
“There is a ton of assuming how others think, operate and what they actually want or need. For example, folks like to plan or talk about transportation based on how they understand its utility, but seldom tend to acknowledge how this varies. A car for me is a mode of transportation, but for someone else it may be a part of their livelihood, self-worth and even housing. It may be the only asset they ever acquire.”
And she isn’t immune to others’ bias and assumptions about her. A quick glance at Nadia and you might guess she’s a college student. Some have mistaken her for an intern or the secretary.
Armed with a PhD in Urban Affairs and Public Policy, she often has to correct first impressions based on appearance around Capitol Hill and in the transportation circles she’s found herself in.
She is a student though. Always up for a good debate with friends – or strangers – Nadia lists learning as a hobby.
“Most striking to me has been the stereotype because of how I look and the different categories I belong to, that I don’t belong in certain circles or environments,” she said. “I have attempted to patron certain shops and either had to flag down assistance or when asked to see a product was told the price instead of handed the merchandise. No. My money is green and they should assume that I can spend.”
Nadia’s past heavily informs her decisions and she’s most passionate about her future, her family and the legacy she works to leave for future family members.
To get there, she considers her strong skills in organization and logic an asset – and a flaw.
“I am a strong Type A personality and will have to consciously prevent myself from losing my hair or having a heart attack before my time.”
Nadia possesses a strong sense of individuality and strives to stand out. But she acknowledges she’s not the only one.
“I am not an anomaly. There are plenty of us out there despite what the world thinks.”