the tyranny of the scrunchy-face

From investor Paul Graham:

"Keep your identity small.

[...] If people can't think clearly about anything that has become part of their identity, then all other things being equal, the best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible. [...]

Most people reading this will already be fairly tolerant. But there is a step beyond thinking of yourself as x but tolerating y: not even to consider yourself an x. The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you."
College is where the existence of segregation becomes normalized. Whereas before college, only the minority knew it to be true, now everyone knew it's just "how things work," without anyone really appearing to be too mad about it.

Here's a highly scientific playbook of how.

Step 1: Marginalize the Self

"Sand nigger."

I laughed. 

It was part of my tongue-in-cheek persona as the token brown dude in a crew of WASPy white kids (who were awesome guys, by the way).

My high school shtick was one of self-deprecation. I made jokes about my suspicious-looking backpack, about speaking derka-derka, about the 72 virgins in "Islamist" heaven.

The road to assimilation, acceptance, and belonging begins with self-hatred.

Step 2: Marginalize Others

Frat star asks, "Where do you live on campus?"
I respond, "Dubois."
Him: **scrunchy face** "How the hell did that end up happening?"
Me: "Yeah, weird, right?"

When I first moved to campus, I didn't think Dubois was strange. The rooms were spacious and clean; the house dean really cared about the students; the community room always had fun stuff going on.

But Dubois was "where all the Black kids lived." And I was not Black. So I got a lot of scrunchy-faced looks. Scrunchy faces made me feel nervous.

And these scrunchy-faces happened a lot. So I began pre-empting them with my own scrunchy face, to match their rose-cheeked ones.

Step 3: Segregate in Defiance (and Perpetuate the Cycle)

Friend: "Why do you only hang out with brown people?"
Me: **scrunchy face** "Why do you only hang out with white people?"

(Optional) Step 4: Watch "Dear White People"

And then deeply question steps 1-3.