the Trigger-happy housewife

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Dear White America

on August 15, 2014

Dear “white America”
you don’t know me.
While you see the color of my skin
 you have no idea where I have been.
You don’t know my native roots
or my heart,
so do not grab me.
Do not pull me into your collective.
15 years ago my colored hair –
 dark clothes –
had you all cowering as I walked by holding your children and
whispering words like Columbine.
As styles have changed and I am not SO out of bounds
you claim me again,
cracking racist jokes
as if we are friends.
But you are not funny
and I am not laughing.
I look into your face and I fill with dread.
Chances are after you rid the world of the “Black Man”
I’ll be the next you want dead.
Because while you like my complexion,
you don’t know who I am.
Even if I was the girl you imagine
I don’t want to be a part of your world.
See, something happened to my generation –
in my lifetime –
with the people my age.
We saw a world that could change.
A world where our culture is OUR culture,
we bring different things to the table.
But we sit together despite our “white America” labels.

 

Several nights ago a young man was shot and killed by a police officer. In the days afterwards the whole city where this happened was encapsulated in fear. Their right to protest was shut down by the local law enforcement and what was one human rights tragedy was followed by many, less severe – yet still appalling, more. I will not pretend that the fact that the young man was black and the officer was white doesn’t add fuel to the sensation of the story, but I will say that it is not the reason this story is sad, scary and ultimately news worthy. I believe that as you watch footage of the aftermath you will see that this section of local authority who is trusted to defend and uphold the law didn’t do it’s job. They went after the protesters regardless of the color of skin, age or any other distinguishing factors. There is a problem that we are facing in our nation. Our trusted men and women in uniform are proving to be less trustworthy that they need to be. This is probably not the newest of problems, but social media is shinning a light on it. Between the ages of 13-20 I was harassed by local authorities often. There was a knowledge that I must be unequivocally obedient, polite and hopeful that they were going to be fair. When I mentioned this to adults I was often told to dress differently because I was bringing it on myself or it was assumed I was doing something that made me deserve this.

I am afforded a certain luxury in my life now because on the surface I am an average white woman – I am the (slightly altered) picture of America. Though my style of dress and personal decision to color my hair alternative colors used to put me at odds with this it is now more mainstream and I no longer truly suffer any consequences. I say on the surface because I am of Native American descent, so while I am light skinned my blood line is multiracial. I am a femme lesbian, which means that generally speaking people have no idea I am a homosexual until they have gotten to know me and I have had reason to talk about my life. While this has afforded me the opportunity to change minds and gain ground it has also put me in many MANY uncomfortable situations where the fact that if this person knew that I was gay they would dislike me was clear. It is my opinion that I am me and not who I sleep with, I don’t feel like I need to introduce myself, “Hello, I am a lesbian.” I don’t feel that I am wrong in anyway, or that I am lying. I feel that to assume based on how I look is wrong.

I can’t tell you how many times racist jokes were made, hateful comments, homophobic statements – how many teenagers and adults have shrieked, “That’s so GAY!” I can’t count the amount of times I have been assumed to be just like “them” and included in conversations that are ugly and hurtful – and scary. Part of me wants to correct, the part of me who hopes that all people can learn and grow. Sadly, the part of me who KNOWS this is not the case stays quiet and gets away from the situation. It’s not conflicting opinions, I am fine with that. It’s ignorant hate that scares me. It scares me for my wife, who is butch and so more obviously gay. It scares me for my children, whom have yet to discover who they are. It scares me for myself. It scares me for the brown skinned youth. It scares me for humanity, because we are all suffering as long as any of us needs to be afraid.

 

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One response to “Dear White America

  1. redgladiola says:

    No one knows anyone really, but that’s why it’s so horrible that people judge others by what they see on the outside. Although I’m not black, I am a minority, and some can’t simply decide to try to fit in.

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