Being white doesn’t make me rich

Toby Britton,
Siloam Springs, AR

I grew up in Uganda, East Africa where I stood out like a sore thumb since I was white. The common misconception among Ugandans, and many East Africans, is that if you are white, you are rich. When we would go to the market to buy our food, or try to ride on pubic transport, we would be charged two to three times the price everyone else was charged, because of the idea of our conceived wealth. We could never go anywhere without shouted at and jeered at. The most used phrase was ‘Gwe Muzungu!’ Which means, ‘you white person!’ Often, the people sitting by the side of the road, or in their yards, would being to try to mimic the American accent they may have heard in movies, and make jokes about us and try to goad us into reacting, which they to might joke about. Sometimes we would get crowds of children following us, trying to touch us, our hair, our faces, or any part of us that they could reach. Sometimes you never knew who your real friends were because many people would get close to you because they thought that you had money that they could get from you. Having a white friend was almost a bragging right because then you were seen as having access to endless money and possessions.Even though we didn’t have that much money, I sometimes had to question my friendships, whether they were normal, or if I was being used for money. We were normal people, but if enough people think you have money, you won’t ever be able to convince people that you don’t. We were pickpockets favorite target when we went into the city, and constantly had to watch out backs. Because we were white, it didn’t matter if we spoke the language fluently, lived poorer than anyone, or did everything right, we would never fit in and be seen as normal people. We would always be set apart, for better or for worse.


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