On being white, poor, and misjudged

FIRST PERSON

Anonymous, Guest Writer

I remember the day I stood in the middle of my school courtyard, hot tears streaming down my face as I divulged my family’s money struggles and adverse home life to two of my close friends. I was telling them about how my dad was unemployed and distant, and we were struggling to make ends meet. I was in the middle of a sentence when a black girl, whom I had never seen before, interrupted my story with a laugh. “Shut up. You don’t know about money struggles or daddy issues” she said with an imperious tone in her voice, “You’re just another privileged white bitch that lives in Spanos with her mom’s credit card in her pocket.” I was taken aback. She took one look at me and figured I was incapable of being subject to the same hardships as other people, simply because of the stereotypes about my race. Little did she know that I can no longer see my dad because he has been on drugs and cheating on my stepmom. Little did she know that my stepmom is hardly ever home because she is out working to be the sole financial supporter for my family. Little did she know that I have to carry pepper spray with me when I walk my dog because I live in a dangerous neighborhood. But, I’m white. Therefore, I don’t have any right to talk about my struggles.
“Reverse racism” is not a real thing. It is just racism. Racism by definition is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race, based solely on race.” Nowhere in this definition does it specify that racism is white people being discriminatory or prejudiced toward minorities. Now, there is a big difference between racism and systemic racism. These terms are not interchangeable. Racism can be experienced by any person regardless of color; systemic racism, on the other hand, is something that no white American experiences. It is statistically impossible, hence the term “white privilege.” According to the Cambridge dictionary, the concept of white privilege explains why white people have greater access to society’s legal and political institutions. But just because our government is biased, doesn’t mean that whites can’t be offended by derogatory terms, struggle financially, or have deep-rooted family issues.
On a daily basis, many whites do face more negligible forms of racism. The racist slights tend to be in the form of microaggressions, use of over-generalized stereotypes, and derogatory terms. Despite the fact that whites are constantly belittled and patronized for being white, or “acting too white,” most schools and workplaces refuse to take action due to some unspoken rule that whites can’t be targets of racially driven prejudice. When it comes to whites in America, there are a lot of assumptions; caucasians are wealthy, live in a nice neighborhood, and probably support Trump. Of course, for a lot of white Americans, this is not true. I have seen fellow white students have their hardships discredited by black peers, merely because they are white. The double-standard when it comes to hate speech is what baffles me the most. I’ve been called almost every offensive white slur under the sun, but that isn’t racism. But if I, as a white girl, called a person of color some derogatory slur, I would be immediately labelled as racist.
As a country, and as a species, we need to accept our differences and move forward. But we should not forget our differences, because our diversity is what makes us interesting. The issue of systemic racism will only be resolved when our political leaders change their ways and create equal opportunities for all people. Only then can we heal our emotional wounds and come together as one, after hundreds of years of indifference.