Word on the street is that I’m a white girl.
Sure, that has been challenged by the hairdresser who insisted I was Greek. (Nope) And by the co-worker who asked me to talk about how I feel about Trump building a wall between here and my country of origin. (Again…not quite). Or the boyfriend’s mama who asked me in her very genteel southern drawl “What side of your family is your color on?” (Ummm…my dad?)
Despite all of that, I am a white girl.
Wanna know how I know? I mean besides the obvious actual color of my skin…
I know because I’m not given looks or watched when I wander around a store aimlessly just looking at things. My presence with my black girlfriends also sometimes stops these looks from coming their way.
I know because when I am pulled over by the police…which happens a lot because I speed too much…I am not worried and the cop is not worried. And I almost never get a ticket…even when I’m honest and sassy.
I know because more often than not, deference is given to me as a white female in elevators, on sidewalks, and sometimes even on the bus. A deference that makes me slightly uncomfortable but is often there all the same.
I know because, even despite my single female status, I bought a house, a car, and have gotten several loans that were actually way to damn easy for me to get.
I know because there are so many small slights that friends and loved ones tell me about that I neither experience nor see.
I don’t see these slights because I am white. I am white and have an expectation of respect, kindness, and acceptance. I am white and do not even know what it means to be otherwise. I am white and only know that I am not receiving the same treatment because those dear to me will tell me their experience because they know that I want to know. To be aware. To pay attention.
It is like…but oh so very different…my experience of being a woman and not having any idea how to explain that to a man. It is like…but oh so very different…my experience of being a fat person and realizing that thin people do not understand the difference between how they live and move in the world. It is like…but oh so very different…being a former church girl who’s Christian friends are angry and distant because they can’t grasp why stepping into a church now makes my stomach hurt and my heart race.
I am a white girl.
And I have all the privilege that comes with that.
But I will not be blind. I will listen. I won’t pretend to understand. But I will empathize, fight, and do my damnedest to help change the world.
And I’ll start with myself.