How it feels to be white in America.

So ready for some controversy? Good.

I am feeling a little discriminated against by…the system!

Nah, too dramatic.

Still, for all I read and hear about what it’s like to be in a minority group, I wonder.

Okay, it’s not like this bothers me every single day of my life or anything…it just occurred to me at school today when I did something mildly nice for an Asian student. I had the thought “What would my actions be construed as by the wrong person?” Any number of things i suppose, but with the blatant hostility I read about sometimes, I had to wonder. Would my help be seen as some psychological need on my part to absolve myself from the charge of prejudice? To show that i don’t see myself as a cut above non white students? Or above foreign ones.

Anyway, what really bugs me is tokenism. Which targets minority groups. It works like this, by stressing how excluded a minority is, and then including one or two members of that minority in your project, you make it seem like you’re on their side.

However, it’s kind of bizarre to make a point out of including someone just for their race or gender. Isn’t that basically the same as saying they are different? That different rules apply?

And if you should choose not to work with those people, you get accused of being bigoted. Though you could have legitimate reasons not too. I don’t choose that myself, but I know business owners who’ve been burned plenty of times by minority group members. Just because you’ve been discriminated against doesn’t make you a good employee.

That’s kind of the problem. Just as someone can’t lack worth because of a their race, neither can they gain worth. Black lives don’t matter more than anyone elses. All lives matter.

Being born one color doesn’t grant superiority, inferiority, amnesty, or guilt.

I think most of us would be surprised how many people got turned into racists simply because they were accused of being so. Maybe our idea of what racism is changed, or maybe our idea of ourselves changes if enough people say bad things about us. White people have been as much a victim of that as anyone else.

How it feels to be white living in America now is something that people don’t talk about very often. Even saying white can be a trigger word. Now, I’m sure, I’d make some eyes roll if I said being white can be hard now. Well sue me. (Not literally.) It can be kind of rough.

I hate  having to ask the question if I do things because I am kind, or because I feel guilty. Now, I don’t really entertain that thought, but the fact that it’s even come to mind is kind of sad.

I remember as a kid I used to be kind of uncomfortable around black people. I didn’t know any personally for years. I guess there weren’t that many where I lived. (There still aren’t come to think of it.) But I never considered them as inferior. Just different. On the outside.

You know, the madness has gotten to the point where my even feeling that way would be twisted by some people into saying that racism is just part of being human and I couldn’t help myself. And white supremacy, blah, blah, blah.

You now the black people I do know now are all more well off than my family is, so much for white middle class pride.

I’d be glad enough to think that when I pass a black person at school they don’t look at me and think “racist” or assume I’m privileged. Or that somehow I have advantages they don’t.

If you took race out of it, just assumed race has nothing to do with success, then the difference between me and them is…not outward.

It’d be a fair guess that most of them weren’t homeschooled, based on what I know of young people, a lot of them don’t like to read, they probably don’t really like school most of them.

That’s what I’ve seen from all students, race isn’t important. Even the Asians who are reputed to be the brainy, honor roll, geniuses complain about classwork. The few white students in my classes actually yap the least in general about the teacher. They tend to be quieter too. I can’t say if that’s race, environment, temperament, or all three.

But, here’s the thing. If I succeed academically and then at a career, it’ll be assumed by a large amount of the population that I was given preference over these other students. “Of course she did well,” they might think, “the system was rigged for her.”

It’s slippery when you can convince everyone that the system is rigged against one group, and secretly rig it against another.

Here’s a little trivia for you. Guess how many groups I can be a part of just because of my race? Guess what scholarship opportunities and clubs I get to join because of it? Guess what kind of discrimination claims I can file if I don’t get selected for something?

If you answered none to all of those, then you’d be right. Can you imagine, even in the midwestern part of this country, someone starting a white pride club?

It’s laughable isn’t it. Now this will be hard for some people to understand but bear with me…If you can’t start a club about how proud you are to be your race because that in itself would be considered racist…that’s a double standard.

“I’m painfully white,” “I’m too white,” “I’m so white, people need shades when I’m at the beach.” What kind of talk is this? And who made it okay for white people to disparage their skin color, but shameful for black people or Latinos to. (Not that they don’t still. Anyone can have this problem, it’s just how its viewed by society.)

I am not saying white people can’t make jokes at our own expense, I just don’t like the underlying shame in the tone of these jokes. We aren’t proud to be this way…we feel unable to change it.

What saddens me is that some very bitter people (not all by a long shot) in minority groups would say this is what we deserve after years of doing it to them. How does it feel?

Well, how does it feel? Guess what, my roots aren’t all in the oppressor. My grandfather’s family was the oppressed. They had to leave Europe. Now, who’s had it worse? I’m sure either side could make an argument.

But because I look white and american, no one will ever think just be seeing me “her grandpa got persecuted for his race. Her great grandparents got forced out of their homes by a corrupt government.” Just like African Americans. What is the blooming difference?

That I’m white.

What stings is not that I want payback for it all. I don’t. I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s in the past. Things change. We change with them. And maybe, dare I say, Jews understand this a little better because we are so universally despised. We adapt though we hold on to tradition.

No, what stings is the assumptions. Again, some Africans I know have a less brutal history than my family does, even if you go back a few generations. Not all of them, and probably not most of them if I’m honest. But what will be assumed?

To restate the old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Why do we keep on focusing on what divides us? I’m not the first to ask, and I won’t be the last. If they don’t care, I won’t either. But I’m not living my life feeling guilty for something I didn’t do.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s