I love reading blogs. I love that you can experience aspects of life on this planet, that you might never experience or know about, by reading someone’s blog. I can know about someone’s experience with being culturally displaced in this country, for example, and feel like I’m getting it all firsthand, like in an e-mail. You wouldn’t have been able to get that through books without feeling like it had been polished, edited and reread many times over.
I’ve been in L.A. for two years now, and I feel the sting of racism or what has been called reverse racism, on a regular basis. I feel it almost every day. It’s not a position that is likely to evoke sympathy. I have always had a lot of friends whose families descend from south of the border, to the point where I find comfort in these families, in their homes. There’s just something familiar about it. And they either love or hate me. I’ve had it explained to me that when they love me, it has to do with always treating my friend like an individual, when they might have grown up in a home with a huge amount of kids and hadn’t experienced a lot of that. However, if you have an aversion to white people, you will probably have an aversion to me, because MAN am I ever white. I talk in a way that is sooo white. And if I’m uncomfortable, I just start to sound whiter. I understand how a general distaste for white people can occur, because I’ve seen how racist white people can get. I can completely understand how you might just write them all off. But it’s only been in recent years that I’ve come to this understanding. Before that, it deeply hurt me to have the bulk of someone’s family dislike me for something I can’t help. Or co-workers, or classmates. I’m white, I act white, and I sound white. I’m also skinny, so pile that on, and glare. Europeans have been here for centuries now, and their racist and oppressive actions have only begun to mellow out in the past generation or two. I can’t even begin to list the ways that current generations of Caucasians continue to inherit these benefits. I understand socioeconomics at least to that extent. Sure, we seem to all have the same life available to us and a person can work hard and study and rise up. It’s no coincidence, however, that people often stay in the economic class that they are born into. I am not saying all do; I’m not going anywhere near that. Oh wait, I am. There’s just no accounting for the guidance and opportunities given to people born into privilege, even if they pay for college themselves, and most often, they don’t. College isn’t the only thing that gets a person places. They still have to build a career, and its so much harder to build a career when you don’t have any connections. You can still claw your way in, but there’s no accounting for the power of discouragement. So yeah, white people are SOOO still benefiting from the years before the civil rights movement. There are still families in the south that have been wealthy since the days of tobacco plantations, and that money isn’t theirs. Not to mention the money, encouragement and leg-ups that trickled out to carefully chosen and often very pale recipients. Racism in this country is a tangled mess that will take years to sort out, if ever, and hopefully in a couple of centuries we will all have a nice honey-colored complexion, and, maybe as a bonus, there will be a lot less skin cancer.
In the meantime, I appreciate the deeper understanding I gain from being able to read blogs from people who are living in a reality so much different than mine. It makes me quit feeling sorry for myself and maybe get a glimmer of understanding that we’re all having our own unique experience here.