I get rather irritated by the way, whenever race is discussed, it’s assumed that I’m part of a classification because of the color of my skin:because I’m milk white, I must be affluent, privileged, part of WASP culture. It’s assumed by many, implicitly or explicitly, that I will have trouble understanding the issues of racial equality, racism and the difficulties of immigration; that I don’t understand suffering. But here’s the thing: I’ve got more in common with the immigrants than the WASPs.I’m the child of exiles, and I inherited their stories. I am half Irish, half Menominee. I know suffering. I remember my great grandmother’s stories of the tribal river being poisoned to stop a meeting downriver. . I know what it is to watch your great grandfather’s face grow grim as he talks about ‘no Irish need apply’ signs all over the city. I remember my grandma’s stories of being asked not to say anything about being a ‘mongrel’ to the parents of her beau.
I’m more than a check in the ‘Caucasian’ box. My blood and bones have stories of pain and triumph written in them. I remember the tales of suffering. So when you talk to me about race, don’t disdain me because I’m ‘white’ and I won’t get it. Try talking to me. I’ll get more than you expect.