Not White

Race issues and research has long piqued my interest.  If you asked me why, I’m not sure I could really tell you. Not in any way that could justify my deep sensitivity to it.

I am, after all, considered “white”. Maybe privileged. Definitely, untouched by things that people of color must deal with constantly.

Maybe, I just answered that question right there.

Because, I’m not white.

In fact, my Sweetgirl, at all of five years old, will proclaim that for all the world to hear. You can count on it.

Just a few weeks ago, in fact, we were filling out a form at the doctor’s office. She was very interested in what the questions were.  “What does that one say?” she repeatedly asked.

“This one is asking if you are black or white or…”

She interrupted me to ask, “What am I?”

That threw me for a loop!

“You are white.” I replied.

“No, I’m NOT!” she practically shouted.  “I am peach-ish!”

Yes.

Exactly.

And when you, census people and questionnaire creators, insist that I label myself as color-less, I don’t like it.

Why can’t I just be… human?

The US Census Bureau, in fact, asks those of us who live in the United States, to define ourselves as to our origins.

I don’t know about you, but my “origin” is in sin.  And, thank God, I don’t have to identify myself that way any more!

And when you, academics and activists, label my neighbor from India, and my small group sister from Vietnam, and my fellow soccer mom who’s skin is the color of coffee as a “person of color”, I don’t like it. Because, you imply that there is a social relationship amongst all of them that excludes me.

When I message my friend “of color” to ask her about the new book she’s reading, I’m pretty sure we already have a social relationship. And, it has nothing to do with my pale skin and her dark skin.

Friendships are not an either/or arrangement. They are a both/and.

Humanity is not either/or. Humanity is AND.

Labeling us European or African American, Native American or Asian, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian, draws a line in the sand. It makes delineations that certainly hold value for some demographic reasons. But, really?  It seems more to serve the divisiveness than to serve unity.

I know you have your reasons. Some of them make sense to me. Most of them, though, do not.

You, over there, have color. You, right here, don’t.

Because, let me tell you, I have plenty of color! My neck is red in parts, my thumb can be green on occasion, and just ask my Sweetman about my language in my less-than-stellar moments. Colorful.

I am never white.

Even when I see a ghost.

Which I never have.

If I did,though, I’m fairly certain I’d be a very pale shade of peach. Maybe even cream.

But not white.