Friday, December 08, 2006

Musings from a Black Woman: That's a big bag, little lady.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

I stumbled up this while reading Racialicious. When I hear certain people talk about how great it is here in the US of A, and how racism isn't such a big problem anymore, I like to refer to number 46:

I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.

Now you know full well there are no brown colored Band-Aids to be found in any drugstore, supermarket or SuperTarget in any corner of this country. That's a big reason why I purchase colorful Sesame Street, Care Bears or Hello Kitty bandages. It looks better than having some tacky peach colored adhesive strip on my skin. And people with that peach colored skin probably have never though about it ever. But I think about the implicit racism, every time I get a cut.

Yeah, not being able to find bandages in my skin color is not a life threatening issue. Neither is not being able to easily find face powder and concealer in my skin color, which happens a lot. But almost every one of those effects listed has occured to me at some point in my life, often repeatedly.

1. I can't arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time. I am still in need of a black friend here in LA. And I'm not going to take and exact count, but over 60% of the people I work with are white. Ergo.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me. Well, I wasn't trained to mistrust anyone in particular.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live. Okay, considering I live in LA, and rent is skyrocketing in every area (as if it was ever cheap to begin with), this isn't so much a race issue as it is a class issue. Or a Southern California issue.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me. Most of my neighbors, right now, are nice. They represent a few different colors and nationalities, too. But if I moved to a wealthier area so my currently nonexistent kids could go to better public schools, I don't know if my neighbors would be so tolerant of my brown-skinned presence. Hypothetical jerks.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed. Okay this one is a biggie. Half of the time I enter any store outside of my immediate neighborhood, I get asked by some ninny, "Do you work here?" or "Where can I find this?" In most cases, it is very clear that, No, I do not work at CVS (rolling my eyes), considering I'm not wearing a blue polo shirt or a nametag. Idiots. I am this close to getting that shirt made that I've been thinking about for months, that says, "I don't work here" on the front, and "What makes you think I do?" on the back. Unfortunately, half of the time the person asking is elderly or a child, so I can't YELL AT THEM like I want to. But the other times...I'm working on it. If one more uppity middle-aged white lady asks me snidely, "Do you work here?" I am going to let her have it. It will not be pretty, and she will leave the store crying. I'll be making men cry, too. No one likes to be called a racist, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Yeah, I said it.

Go through the others yourself. There are 50 total. Either you'll feel bad about the privilege you never knew you had, or angry about the privileges that you never realized you deserved. It's guaranteed to make you feel neither warm nor fuzzy.


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Bianca Reagan said...

The deleted posts were spam by "anonymous." Nothing important.