Yes. I am a white girl. Why does that mean I can’t speak freely?

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Yes. I am a white girl. Why does that mean I can’t speak freely?

Ok, so while I am aware of the constantly evolving me that is a student of social work, I also have a few things about myself that I hold to be convictions, which will really never change. One of them, I feel I need to defend so freaking often these days. Consider the following real life practically verbatim vignette:

A guy and a gal are smoking outside school. Me and another gal, talking to them. Conversation ensues regarding graduation blah blah. Me and smoking gal begin talking about the opportunities in Alaska which can result in getting most of your student loan debt forgiven. I ask, “Are you Native at all?” because she looks like she could be  (obviously my first mistake, assuming she looks potentially Native and asking, gasp).

She says “No, why?” 

Me: “Well, they give Native preference up there. I remember it being really frustrating when I lived up there that often I didn’t get a job because I was “too white.”

We laughed. I started to explain and then….

The other girl, non-smoker starts in about “Yeah, how hard it must be as  a white girl,” (mind you she is white too) and “how white people have it so bad”, while rolling her eyes and going on about privilege. Then she gives some example about some dumb chick that said something similar, which really wasn’t even remotely similar to what I was saying. I didn’t get to finish talking. I was humiliated and pissed. 

Now, had she given me half a second, I would have further validated that statement with how it was 15 years ago, when I was 18 and naive. I then would have explained how I BELIEVE AND ALWAYS WILL that as long as we continue to make distinctions between people, we are perpetuating hate and separateness,  nothing will ever be equal. It creates infighting. And as long as we are fighting each other, we will never make any headway with the powers that be that REALLY need us to work against them. Yes, I know that reparations must be made for previous and present oppressions and that I currently experience privilege because I am white, really I KNOW THIS. I’m on a fucking computer bitching about how I let someone make me feel while I was at GRADUATE school. I mean come on. I get it. My first world problems are really lame in the big picture. But they are mine. I am experiencing them.

But I also know that as long as we give anyone an advantage over another person based upon their race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, sex, religion or culture, rather than their qualifications that there will always be anger, strife and hate. I remember very clearly my ex-husband going OFF about not getting a promotion at his job, when we lived in Barrow, Alaska. A Native had been promoted ahead of him. Not once did he even entertain the idea that the Native had been better qualified, had more seniority, or had been waiting for the promotion. He assumed it was a Native preference situation and hated the Natives after that. Now, this was most undoubtedly a multifaceted issue, because he was slightly racist to begin with, had been privy to white privilege his entire life, etc. But the fact of the matter was, he began to hate a specific person based upon an assumption created by a man-made difference created in trying to help end differences.

But she didn’t let me say that. She didn’t even let me explain. She immediately made an assumption based on the beginning of my statement, jumped in and changed the entire tone of the conversation, made me feel like crap and embarrassed. Her DHS skills are coming in handy. I can see it already.

Boo.

Now I am doing what I want to stop: I’m talking about it! GOD*(&*^%*^%!

Woosaw.

I have three things I would like to share:

The first is a partial transcript of a 60 Minutes interview of Morgan Freeman by Mike Wallace:

Wallace: Black History Month you find…

Freeman: Ridiculous.

Wallace: Why?

Freeman: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?

Wallace: Oh, come on…

Freeman: What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month?

Wallace: Well…

Freeman: Come on, tell me.

Wallace: I’m Jewish.

Freeman: OK. Which month is Jewish History Month?

Wallace: There isn’t one.

Freeman: Oh. Oh. Why not? Do you want one?

Wallace: No. No.

Freeman: Alright. I don’t either. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.

Wallace: How are we going to get rid of racism…?

Freeman: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.

The second is classic MLK:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

And finally:

2 from Malcolm X:

“I am not a racist…. In the past I permitted myself to be used…to make sweeping indictments of all white people, the entire white race and these generalizations have caused injuries to some whites who perhaps did not deserve to be hurt. Because of the spiritual enlightenment which I was blessed to receive as a result of my recent pilgrimage to the Holy city of Mecca, I no longer subscribe to sweeping indictments of any one race. I am now striving to live the life of a true…Muslim. I must repeat that I am not a racist nor do I subscribe to the tenants of racism. I can state in all sincerity that I wish nothing but freedom, justice and equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people.”

“Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society.”

I said good day!

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4 responses »

  1. Bravo! Well said! Yes, I know, that is not what you were looking for. I agree that to end all this is to stop giving it power by making it such a big deal and continuing the ongoing debates. However, one must consider, people will and do talk about it and most people have it all wrong, which forces us to open our mouths if to say nothing else but, “””REALLY???””” Great, great examples spoken by great men! I too am so sick of the intentional pointing out of who is what color, who someone sleeps with, and who someone prays, chants, or meditates to or about. To me that is like holding my eye color against me or saying my preference for, (ok, I will Only eat Vanilla icecream) somehow makes me a minority and I should be set apart as a result. Are those who are deaf less than those who can hear? Are those who can see better than those who are blind? Yeah, it really is as ridiculous as that.
    THANK YOU for this post!!!
    -Cindy

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