This is a guest post by RVCBard, a Black woman and HBCU graduate too close to thirtysomething for her own comfort. Playwright, web marketing strategist, and sometime film and theater reviewer, RVCBard identifies as a lot of things: queer, Black, Jewish, woman, and more. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, she now lives in Brooklyn.
Observation: White folks seem to be comfortable with non-Whites as long as we indulge the fantasy of subservience, but when we exert any form of authority or influence, they become uncomfortable, even hostile. That is, if they even acknowledge us as being any kind of legitimate authority at all. It doesn't matter how great (President of the United States) or trivial (intellectual discussion) the situation, White people seem to default to undermining, questioning, scrutinizing, or outright denying the expertise, ability, and power of people of color.
Experience: My roommates (mostly White men) had gotten into a small debate about using pesticides in our living area. Several of them were going on and on and on about how it's perfectly safe, won't hurt anything, blahblahblah, while my friend (an East Indian woman) was saying that the chemicals were harmful when used in close proximity to humans and animals. BTW, she has 2 Master's degrees -- one in chemistry and another in environmental science (I believe). The people arguing with her? Several never so much as took a college course, and quite a few may have graduated with a Bachelor's in something decidedly not focused in chemistry, biology, or environmental science. Nevertheless, instead of deferring to her expertise, they still ran their mouths about what they "knew" about these things.
Observation: White people seem to have this need to be first, most, and best of everything. They're all about individuality when it's about them being special, but when people of color try to express their own extraordinary traits, there's a tendency to respond in a way that places the White person on par with or above a person of color.
Experience: Too many to count. But a recent example -- dog training. I've been breeding, raising, and training large breed dogs (particularly rottweilers) from birth to death for my entire life. For a brief time, I was even a pet trainer at PETsMART. So I have the theoretical and practical knowledge to assist people with most dog rearing and dog training needs, especially with large dogs (65+ lbs).
My roommates became the de facto owners of a lab mix. But they were having problems with teaching him good behavior. They tried yelling at him, rubbing his nose in his mess, spanking him, and so on. I made it clear that I knew what to do and I'd gladly offer my tips and advice to make things easier. I knew gentle training techniques that work for big dogs. I knew what they should eat. I knew how to make a potty schedule. And what I didn't know, I could ask of even more experienced people.
Did they take me up on it? No. Somehow, none of my knowledge or experience means anything to these guys who think rearing a puppy is all about establishing dominance as the alpha male. Cue me rolling my eyes really hard. But I did get endless amusement out of my friend when he nearly pulled his hair out trying to teach his puppy to roll over while I very quickly and very calmly achieved what he was attempting. Again, did he ask me how I did it? Did he come to me about teaching the puppy to do other things? NOOOOOO! Apparently, it's not my combination of knowledge, experience, and patience. It's just some sort of fluke!