I don’t see my color….sometimes

img_6897Emily
Oak Park, IL

When describing myself and thinking about race, I wouldn’t put normally put caucasian or white as a trait unless it was a multiple choice answer on a census bubble form. To describe myself, I would first say: runner, coffee lover, Event Manager, sometimes Knitter, person who accumulates ridiculous and random stories and female but in no way lesser or ‘of man’. But that’s obviously more than 6 words and this project is called the race card which does bring up how I view my race. Being white, caucasian, or completely of European descent never usually comes 1st, 2nd, or 3rd to mind but it has today. The fact that I am beautiful and love my body comes even before whiteness but behind all the other traits I listed. I don’t often see my whiteness as just being white – it’s always matched to privilege which I guess is how it pretty much how it goes more often than not. I see it on the train going to work – when (and this fact is really heightened during rush hour) when the whites from the affluent suburb at the end of the line are riding into the city dressed in their fancy work clothes and a majority who get on after the suburb are non-white and wearing much less expensive clothing. I see my race when a group of all white family or friends talk about race. The other day, my all white biological family was speaking about why the word ‘black’ was more acceptable or not….at least on physician forms….than African-American. In situations like these, I’ll pipe up and offer my argument but I always feel like we’re missing a big piece of the puzzle in that our conversation and that whatever is finally decided isn’t truly valid because we don’t have a non-white to chime in and offer ‘the other side’s viewpoint’. And hasn’t that always been the problem: A group of whites make a decision and it gets filtered down to everyone else without their feelings on the subject matter.

I suppose I see race everyday and am reminded on a daily basis that I am a white, privileged, 27 year old. And I know that we’re supposed to say (or at least those of us who went to small liberal colleges that were very diverse in comparison to the normal college) that we’re past that. But we’re not…we’re bombarded by race everywhere we go and we’re reminded of what color we are and how it gives us privilege or not. In the media, the statistics, the clothing people are able to afford, the jobs people have, the areas people live, the way people treat others. The black guy down on his luck was hailing a cab for three fashionably dressed women, all white, on their way from the office at the end of the workday to a board meeting…again with mostly white physicians, no blacks or African-Americans.

 

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