Because I’m white, I feel ashamed.

Sadie Petersen
Philadelphia, PA

As a child, the streets of west Philadelphia were my playground. I loved going to school in the area and wouldn’t change a thing about how I was raised and how race was never even noted in my small family of four, which eventually grew to a family of 7. However, living in west Philadelphia and being a white female, I was the minority at my, almost, all black school. I was one of 5 white kids but seeing as we were such a community, race and skin- tone never seemed to be of any issue to any of us as young children. The story seemed to change, as I got older though. I was never teased or bullied, but sometimes I was excluded from conversations or hangouts because I was “too white” and “wouldn’t understand because I had it better.”

There was a time in my life when all I wanted to be was black and I was jealous of the coffee-cream skin tone of my best friend at the time, Amanda. Later, when I graduated to high school, I found that some people still held racial prejudice, and seeing as my youngest sister was mixed, I was horrified. It was astonishing to me that being black wasn’t as desired at it was at my old school, or at least for me. No matter how you look at it, when It boils down to me and that box, I cannot help but feel the twangs of embarrassment for the privileges and acceptance that I may receive out of racial bias over others because I am a white female with brown hair a green eyes. I feel ashamed that my appearance is what defines me and assess me as a human being. I feel ashamed for admitting that every last crime committed by my ancestors in the 1950’s and earlier is a part of me. That is what makes me cringe when I check that box labeled “White.”


Tweets by Michele Norris