This is a guest post by Angry Black-White Girl. She's based in Oakland, California and runs an eponymous blog (where this post also appears). About herself, Angry Black-White Girl writes that she's "Clean and articulate. Young, hip and belligerent. I am Black, Lebanese, Hungarian and queer as a three dollar bill." She started blogging "primarily to call out racism and to center the experiences of women and queer people color with a focus on the personal, the political and the absurd."
An episode in white privilege
Lately, few events in my life have merited an internet ranting sesh. However, today provided an exception.
I was waiting for a commuter rail to take me from Boston back to suburbs, with a number of drunken Red Sox fans. My people. One girl, who I read as white and about my age, had taken a broom from the janitor's closet and was using it to sweep the platform. Her friends and family appeared to be egging her on as she got up in waiting passengers' space to sweep by our feet. Eventually the janitor came to collect his broom, but she refused to give it back. In a turn of events that struck me as bizarre, two separate groups of people, one which appeared to be related to her and one that didn't, came to her defense, claiming that the broom was hers, when they knew otherwise. "She's doing a good job," they said," why don't you just let her sweep?"
That's where things started to get ugly. "I work for my money," she said, still sweeping. Then, loud enough for him to hear, "I take care of my kids", thus implying that he, a working class man of color, did not take care of his kids. In front of a platform of spectators she had stolen his supplies, refused to give them back and humiliated him. I can't explain how I know that this situation would not have been allowed to carry on for so long if she had not been white and he had not been a man of color, but I know that is why he could not simply take the broom back from her, but stood outside her circle of friends of family and patiently gestured that he needed his broom back. When his polite attempts failed, he went upstairs to get his boss, a white man, who came down and said little more than, "Jose needs his broom back," and then gently took it out of her hands, meeting little resistance from her or the crowd that had come to her defense.
On the train home, she started ranting about how that job should belong to an "American" anyway (as if she could have known whether he was a citizen or not,) and that the janitor should be deported. At this point, I moved to another car in the interest of her safety.