A graphically designed collection of Erik's face.
Cover Image © Erik Walker

Black Perspectives #03: Erik Walker (Electrical Engineer)

The Big Questions

SSD: There are two big questions that I’m asking every interview subject to answer.

First: What does it mean to you to “Be Black” in 2022?

EW: I feel like being Black in 2022 comes with a responsibility. Part of that could just be based on the stage of life I currently occupy. I feel like it comes with a responsibility to educate my children about the experiences that my parents and grandparents had as well as what they can expect as they grow older.

Erik Walker with his daughter.

In 2020 and 2021, I felt like I had a responsibility to bring light to current civil rights issues to the White People I used to go to school and church with back in Oklahoma City. In the second half of 2021, I switched gears on that. Since then my Twitter account has gone mostly silent while my Facebook and IG accounts have become a constant stream of updates on my children. It was a mental health decision. I wasn’t making much of a difference, but my stress and depression levels were rising.

So, for me in 2022, my focus is on the people in my house.

SSD: Ok, moving on to Numero Dos: As a Black Person in America, what’s one thing that you wish other people knew about your daily experiences?

EW: My assumption is that this would be a question from a White Person about my experience as a Black Person.

SSD: That question pertains to anyone you want it to. White People. Non-Black People. Black People.

I think a lot of assumptions go toward us and our behavior because of our outward appearance, so I intentionally left that question open-ended in a way, so that people can address whomever they want.

EW: I’d want them to know that I don’t always go throughout my day thinking about my blackness. It’s not always at the forefront of my mind. But there are things that happen during the course of the day that will remind me that my experience isn’t the same as yours.

I could spend all day talking about differences. I won’t, but it should be noted that there are differences.

Black People in the last 50-60 years have spoken a lot about having pride in our complexions and our culture. It’s a direct result of hundreds of years of being told we’re “less than” and that our skin color is a flaw. It’s true that slavery was a long time ago, as was Reconstruction. Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, however, were not that long ago. And sometimes, during the course of my day, I feel the weight of that and I’m reminded just how little time has passed.

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