Wednesday, March 3, 2010

make non-white people feel marginalized in their own countries

This is a guest post by Doreen Yomoah, a vagabond currently living in Ghana. She's also a founding mother of the Women’s Liberation Army, a motley crew of women scattered throughout the globe who are sick of injustice and planning to do something about it.

I currently reside in Accra, Ghana, where I am a citizen and a member of the ethnic majority (the Ga). However, this is the first time I’ve even been in Ghana since I was 7 (and the first time I’ve lived here since I was one). One day, I was at a bar and met a white woman. My hair was in cornrows. I ran into her later, when my hair was in twists. When we met, she started going on and on about how interesting and intricate African hair is, and how she “wishes she could do that with her hair.” ( I could write a whole other post on white girls telling me how they “wish they could do that with their hair,” and then turning around and putting their hands in my hair like I'm a goddamn dog and asking me stupid questions like “where is your real hair?” It’s in my pocket. Where the hell do you think it is?)

I asked this woman if she really wanted to sit for eight hours to have her hair done, and she expressed shock and disbelief, asking if that was really what it took. Then she went on to say how “new” and “trendy” my hairstyle was, and I told her that braiding and twisting have been around for CENTURIES, and that my hair was no more interesting than hers was. She once again expressed shock to find out that braids aren’t a new style, and reluctantly agreed that my hair was no more interesting than hers.

This fawning and seemingly complimentary commentary about our hair is just another way to other black people. It’s as though she sees her hair as being “regular” hair, and our hair is some weird, exotic, abnormal characteristic. But when you’re in a country where the vast majority of its inhabitants possess (naturally, although a ridiculous percentage of women are relaxing their hair) a certain phenotype and you don't, you’re actually the one with the “weird” hair, not us.

On another occasion, my cousin and I went to a pub frequented by expats, and I swear to Gryffindor, when we walked in, I could hear crickets chirping. Every single patron in the place was white (with the exception of one Asian American woman), and every single server was black. It felt more like 1958 in Birmingham, AL, rather than 2009 in Accra, GH. The white patrons all looked at us as if to say “What are these negroes doing in here?”

“Oh hell, no,” I thought. It’s one thing for me to feel unwelcome and uncomfortable when I am in a bar in America, but there is no way I am going to be made to feel like some kind of an intruder into your “whites only” space in my OWN DAMN COUNTRY.

My third example of this phenomenon -- of white othering of non-white people in non-white contexts -- didn’t take place in Ghana, and it didn’t happen to me. When I was in China, I was tutoring a young Korean girl who attended American school. One day, she asked me why we look different and I explained that over thousands of years, people developed physical characteristics that helped them adapt to the environment around them, such as people developing darker skin to help protect them from the sun, and people developing lighter skin to help them absorb more of the sun’s rays in places where there is an inadequate amount of sun. She then asked what environmental factor led to her developing an epicanthic fold.

Now, not being an evolutionary biologist, I really didn’t know the answer to that, but I was pretty concerned that we were in East Asia, where she was a member of the racial majority (although obviously of a different nationality and ethnicity) and that many, many people (if not most) have that phenotype. And yet, she was still being made to feel like there was something about her eyes that was “different” and wanted to know the reason why she had it. I suspect it had something to do with the population of her school, as she went to the America school in Shanghai (which is overwhelmingly white), and I suspect they had created a microcosm of America there, where once again, people who are members of the racial majority in the country still get othered once they are at school. On a different occasion, one of my (white) colleagues made some comment about Asian people having “funny eyes” and I thought “no, asshole. We’re in CHINA. You’re the one with the funny eyes.”

Finally, here in Ghana, I was sitting one time with two white friends. Let’s call them Bill and Leila. Bill’s (white) colleague spotted him and said hello to him. He DID NOT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE MY PRESENCE, made eye contact with Leila, and then smiled and greeted her. Bill then introduced the both of us to his boss who reluctantly and half-heartedly shook my hand. When he was leaving, he once again did not acknowledge me and said “bye” to Bill and Leila.

When I tried to point out to the other two what had just happened, they enacted the common white tendency to talk over people of color in order to explain away incidents of racism. This man is in charge of a major American governmental organization whose work primarily focuses on development, and I’m wondering what he's doing here if he has such little respect for the people he is supposed to be helping (although if he had bothered to speak to me, he would've learned that I'm not a local and most of the developments being made aren't things that I've been deprived of anyway), and if he just assumes that any black person he sees isn’t even worth talking to or even acknowledging.

So basically, while non-white people are considered people of color in majority white nations (whether the nation’s indigenous population is white, or if it became majority white through colonialism and genocide), in nations where we are the indigenous population and/or the racial majority, we shouldn’t be seen as “people of color.” We should be seen and treated with the same kind of treatment that “normal” people get in their own countries, and receive the same kind of courtesy that we extend to foreigners (which is something that white people fail to do to POC in their own countries, whether the POC are foreigners or locals who were born and bred in the country).

Has anyone else experienced this othering at the hands of white people, even in situations when they are in the ethnic or racial majority? What do you do or say about it, if anything?


  1. yes, I've experienced the same exact scenario:

    "On another occasion, my cousin and I went to a pub frequented by expats, and I swear to Gryffindor, when we walked in, I could hear crickets chirping. Every single patron in the place was white (with the exception of one Asian American woman), and every single server was black. It felt more like 1958 in Birmingham, AL, rather than 2009 in Accra, GH. The white patrons all looked at us as if to say “What are these negroes doing in here?”"

    That's happened to me in India. Now, I am Indian American/British Asian, but I have family in India who were born and raised in India. My father, my older sister and I went to Mumbai in 2007 to visit my Indian-born relatives. We all went to the Taj Resort Hotel (very famous landmark: for dinner.

    The whole hotel was surrounded by WHITE PEOPLE-- rich snooty white Europeans, some Americans and of course, there were Indian servers, Indian hotel clerks, and Indian cooks.

    My sister, my little cousin and I went to the bathroom to wash our hands before eating dinner. We were all dressed in shalwar kameez (Indian clothes). There were finely dressed white chicks in the bathroom, dressed in expensive clothes. They looked at us in disdain-- as if to say "what are you doing here? This place is for white people only."

    I swear, I wanted to punch in their f--king faces.

    another incident-- when I was in Saudi Arabia-- I am not Saudi, but still-- we had just completed the Hajj and were going back home to the States.

    my family and I were getting ready to board a plane back to the United States. The whole line was full of People of Color-- South Asians, Persians, Middle Easterns, African Americans, and other POC Muslims.

    suddenly some white women-- Americans-- cut into the line and pushed us away to get into the plane first. Some Pakistani American women, along with me and my mother, began screaming at the white women to get back in the line because we were here FIRST!!!

    It continues to amaze me how white people think they're entitled to everything, especially in non-white nations.

  2. Continuing on the string about Asian eyes...

    I spent 10 months in Japan last year, and being of Asian-Canadian, felt unusually common in an all Asian environment. But sadly it seems that even in a non-white majority country, the influence on Western culture has definitely made it's invasion and lasting impression.

    I walked into the bathroom one day at school to find my two friends poking at their eye lids with these small tongs. I later found out it's because Japanese girls can buy a special type of glue to glue their eyes bigger. It's not accurate to say that ALL Asian people have small eyes and that in an all Asian society small should be considered acceptable and normal, but at the same time the whole idea of it was shocking, bizarre and unsettling. I wondered if I had come to "accept" my small eyes because I had grown up in a multicultural society and identified this trait as a distinguishing characteristic of my ethnicity. It almost seems that in "Western" countries minorities strive to maintain their culture while in the home countries, people strive to be "Western". Another example was when I decided to ask my friends what their idea of "beauty" was after hearing someone comment on someone's "tall nose". Their answer? "Well just as you'd expect, light skin, big eyes, tall nose, small face, skinny legs..." I think the light skin comment was the most surprising to me. It's no secret that many Asian people wish they had bigger eyes and less-flat noses, which comes from the "Western" image that has been ingrained in our minds. But after growing up in a society where people deliberately fly down to the Dominican Republic over Christmas break to work on their tan, hearing that people want "white" skin was almost too much to take in. It almost makes you wonder what will happen to our world if China really does rise up as the big super power and subject us all to its umbrella of influence...

  3. I have to say that reading this makes me feel a little ill. The sheer arrogance of white people, regardless of context, never ceases to horrify me. Thanks for sharing this story.

  4. "I could write a whole other post on white girls telling me how they “wish they could do that with their hair,” and then turning around and putting their hands in my hair like I'm a goddamn dog and asking me stupid questions like “where is your real hair?” It’s in my pocket. Where the hell do you think it is?"

    Please go ahead and do it! I'd love to read it.

  5. Is there a way to express, "Damn, you look amazing. I love what you've done with your hair," without white othering POC?

    Is it so fundamentally uncomfortable because the construction of greater society making straight, un-braided hair the default so that any 'deviation' deserves a compliment?

  6. Has anyone else experienced this othering at the hands of white people, even in situations when they are in the ethnic or racial majority? What do you do or say about it, if anything?

    Totally. I remember my brother's rugby team (Kenyan school) playing the local "international" school (read: white American). Before the game, a number of white boys were hurling racist epithets (all sorts of animal names, the n-word, etc.) @ my brother and his black and brown team mates. I was incredulous at the sheer amount of delusional hubris it must have taken for these white boys to indulge in such overtly racist behavior in a majority-black country. Especially right before a game that involves physical aggression.

    Because my mom is from the US and insisted on honoring US holidays in Kenya, she'd drag us to 4th of July parties where we (the children) would snicker at the white Americans* who would only acknowledge/speak to each other. They treated us like so much human-shaped wall paper. (And those Western fashion magazine "safari" spreads harkening back to colonial Kenya, with the requisite black servants/safari guides in service to the whites, don't help. The Isak Dinesen "Out of Africa" theme just. won't. die.)

    Yet another example of otherizing, although not necessarily marginalizing: a (white) aunt of mine who ran a non-profit org in Kenya, had to send another white American woman home almost as soon as she arrived: she freaked out being surrounded by so many black people (and they were so dark! scary!). My no-nonsense/doesn't-suffer-fools-gladly aunt: "Well, who did you expect to encounter in Kenya?"
    *This wasn't all white Americans I encountered, just most. The ones we encountered who attempted to learn Swahili and actually interact with Kenyans as if we were people just like them, tended to be involved in the Peace Corps.

  7. Yes.

    I have been ignored so often I began to wonder if I were truly invisible and began to physically bump or touch the person to make sure I was real, and not a ghost walking around in denial of my death.

    In malls and stores I have literally be run over, walked into and had doors slammed in my face, by white people so many times-men included, like I wasn't even standing there, or in line whatever it may be.

    I try not to go out much because I do not like the anger that fills me when I am in public, I don't like the person I become. I shop online.

    I play metal guitar and it is unusual for a WoC. So many places I traveled with my band, the death glare I would get when walking into a rock, punk or metal club was terrifying.

    On a few occasions I considered not even playing for fear of my life. But usually after playing would get surrounded with all kinds of compliments, but it usually amped my stage fright up so high I thought I may need to take a therapist on the road with me or carry anti-anxiety pills of some sort.

  8. DIMA said
    "It continues to amaze me how white people think they're entitled to everything, especially in non-white nations."

    It does seem that way. And it infuriates the #&^ out of me. I almost have to bite my tongue and ask "Who died and made you the ruler?"

    I feel you. As an artist myself (writer/filmmaker) I always get the sense that I'm only to strictly create work that deals with being a black American female. I even see shocked expressions when I mention that I've done some traveling out of the U.S.

    In public places, I experience that too. When I hold the door open for some white people, I don't get a "Thank you" and when I don't hold the door, I get a look that's almost like how dare you. I was once at the movies with my friend and this woman nearly ran her over, rather than saying excuse me. When I was at the supermarket, this woman nearly ran me over with her shopping cart. I turned around and said to her, "What are you, five? If you need to get by, say excuse me.It's just two words." The look on her face was one of shock and she muttered "sorry".

  9. Shouldn't this be expected? The only reason the US, Australia, and Canada are countries is due to whites marginalizing the people that were there first.

  10. @Alii- Is there a way to express, "Damn, you look amazing. I love what you've done with your hair," without white othering POC?

    I don't know if your question was directed @ the OP or if anyone is free to answer, but I'll put in my .02. "I love what you've done with your hair," works for me. It's something I can see one white person saying to another. It's when the comments veer off into "I wish I had your hair," or they put their hands in my hair without asking, that I begin to question their sincerity and intent. Want my hair? Do they know what (others') baggage they'll be subjected to with my hair texture/style, where wearing my natural texture is viewed, among other things, as a political statement (and public property)? And what the ramifications are for that? Or is this just another foray into exoticism, in a National Geographic (NASA?), how-do-you-people-with-your-foreign-substance-hair-do-that kind of way? For me, it's the difference between genuine admiration and being overly-fascinated, as one might be with a zoological exhibit. It's just dead protein, people.

    @Lhunfindel - I've become even more of a homebody too, as a direct result of similar experiences.

    @Ebony - I've encountered that assumption too, that black people don't travel. ??? That may be part of what feeds into the ignorance of white Americans telling me I can't be Kenyan. Travel takes money and everyone knows black people don't have any. [/sarcasm]

    Here's one more example of othering by white people, although this took place in a majority white country. A white American woman in England kept referring to the blacks there as "African Americans." Her friend, also white American, finally told her, "Do you know how ignorant you sound?" I've encountered this from other US citizens before, where all blacks = AAs. Um...what?

  11. This is an excellent post, especially after the several travelling while black/Asian other type of POC. The arrogance can be astounding sometimes. I hate that look at you like a space alien crap white folks give you.

    This isn't as good as your stories, but this summer I was in St. Maarten/St Martin, which has lots of white French locals but is mostly black and when we went to a beach bar, that is probably mostly frequented by white American and European tourists, and 1st had the beach waiter get an attiude with me b/c after waiting for forever for him to come back to take my order, I just went to the bar and ordered something. I was told while at the bar they'd bring the food out by the very nice Australian girl who took my order, then had to wait forever after she asked the snooty French cashier at least twice to ring up my order. Said snooty french bitch stared at me like an alien. The food never came out I eventually went back to get it and said I'd been waiting a long time and then the bitch lied (b/c her boss was there) and said she'd told me I had to come back to get the food, when that witch did nothing but take my money out of my hands like it was dirty and looked at me like I was from Mars. I was so mad. I didn't tell the boss what really happened b/c I wasn't in the mood to argue and though I intended to send a note to the travel listserv I go to about the island to complain about the crap service but I didn't, especially b/c I didn't want to explain my suspicions b/c I felt that I was mistreated by the white French staff b/c I'm black and it seemed they had the attitude that it is ok to have blacks work under you but not be your customer. I'm getting mad all over typing this.

  12. Something similar I've experience:

    The place I work hired an outside company to do construction on our building. The construction workers would park at the loading dock then stare me down when I walked up to the back door to go into the building. I work there, they are the outsiders yet they treat me like I shouldn't be there.

    Another example. I've been attending the same exercise class for years. A group of college aged white girls started attending. When I came into class they are stared at me like "what is she doing here". Even though it was their first class and I'd been attending for years. Note that none of the older white women who attend have made a fuss over my presence.

  13. Not to veer or derail, but I would absolutely love to see a post entitled "assume black people don't travel."

    As a traveler, I have seen this over and over again when I tell white people all the places I've been.

  14. I am NOT defending the white woman who cut in line in Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist's anecdote or speculating about her possible motives, but as a white person myself, I do notice that occasionally when I travel in developing countries I am whisked to the fronts of lines, past customs, into a waiting taxi or limo. The assumption seems to be that you're (comparatively) rich, and clueless, and will tip well -- which I try to do, since it seems better than disappointing people. Is there an ideal response to this? I am far too timid, awkward and polite to initiate or demand such treatment, but I've never declined it either. Frankly, I don't like standing in line, especially in places like airports, and people seem quite happy to take my money.

  15. I identify with the author's post 100000%

  16. Similar experiences:

    While living as a South Asian expat in the Middle East, we were usually the target of both white-on-brown and brown (Arab)-on-brown (other Asian) racism, mixed, of course, with a healthy dose of classism. Now, the ME has its own distinct race and class politics which usually places whites at the top of the hierarchy and non-arab browns and Filipinos at the bottom. Once we were at a company party (where my dad worked) and my brother was trying to be next in line for a zip line, but the white kids kept going first as if it was their property. So at last he tried to push himself ahead, and there was a ruckus, at which point an American (white) man sitting nearby scolded the white kids (and specifically pretty much said that they were being racist).

    More recently, I was in South Africa on study abroad, and I believe we all know the history of apartheid in the country. Apparently the race hierarchy still continues in blatant ways. My friend (white) and I were waiting for a taxi cab to take us from the very expensive and bourgeois Seaport to our dorms, and a black woman was in front of us. One taxi came up, passed the black woman (and us, behind her) and picked up some white kids who bypassed everyone. Another came up and motioned to us, which is when the black woman said that she was there first (we said, yes, she was in line first). But the taxi driver (brown) basically said, pretty much out loud, "the next taxi will pick her up...they will pick up their own people". I did not tip him much.


    I believe a lot of the race-based hierarchies that are set up in post-colonial nations obviously have a lot to do with colonial histories (SA being a rather unique example), but also class and perceived status of birth-nation. For example, in the Middle East (especially the oil-rich Gulf States), if you are white you will be given special social status no matter how dumb or ugly, and if you carry a Western passport (even if POC) you will be given special institutional status (longer visas, better positions at work, etc.). I believe the white arrogance is a product of the colonial mentality that white people are just somehow better coupled with the reality that (most) white people come from a resource-rich and powerful state, and if whites are wronged while abroad (even within legal limits) there will be a lot more media and raised voices than when those from poorer nations are wronged (even illegally). If you are from a nation with access to enforce accountability internationally, you are privileged, and even more so, if you are white, because in most social situations, that color is your passport of power.

  17. So if I'm a white person traveling in a "non-white" country and find myself at an establishment with mostly white patrons and mostly indigenous staff, should I leave and attempt to find someplace with a less uniformly white patronage? Doing so would make me feel like one of those Stuff white People Like white people who "seek authenticity" and really just end up exasperating everyone around them. (They exasperate me, too). So it seems misguided to demand that the patrons be more diverse and it also definitely seems misguided to demand that the establishment hire more white people. The white-patron-brown-staff dichotomy is uncomfortable, but is it something the white tourists can or should attempt to remedy?

  18. Wow! Loved the post and comments. I have nothing else to add. Everyone else took what I was going to say and said it. I do find it ironic though that even in non white majority countries that locals still try to whites (rather Europeans or Americans) with more respect than anyone else.

    At the same time its like come on man colonialism is over (well, neo-colonialism isn't) stop thinking whites are holier than thou or high and mighty. I'd say the entitlement whites feel when traveling abroad is a combination of racism, colonialism, power (wealth, business and status) and don't forget money especially Euros and Dollars.

    To Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist, I loved your story. Its like on both occasions the women (and it was always women which goes against the whole mantra about all women of color uniting as women that white women usually make noise about here in the U.S. but same white women act so rude, awful and mean abroad) especially the part where it always seemed white women felt compelled to literally step on you first staring you down in your own country or grandparents country than try to bum rush to the front line at airport when you and everyone else were already there first and the women saw that you were in line too. I hate how some people feel they are better than others and its 21st century.

    To Melissa,
    Thank you for sharing your story about beauty standards in Japan and China. It would be tight to see how China will project its view on world. It should be interesting and I can't wait the shoe will be on the other foot for western countries who already feel China's economic power. And just going back to the beauty of small eyes. you might be surprised to know that there are women in Liberia, Senegal and Nigeria in West Africa who have small eyes or "Asian" eyes and Liberian, Nigerians and Senegalese are not Asians nor mixed with Asians. They were born with those eyes and they were created that way I guess. Having small eyes are seen as a sign of beauty (not difference or strangeness) in Liberia and other West African countries.

    To Lhufindel,
    I know how you feel. Sometimes I like to walk into stores to just look around and not really to buy anything. Most of the stores that spark my interest to explore are stores where mostly white people visit with few POC customers also attending. Sometimes I will stand beside a shelf or walk down the aisles. Apparently this makes the store clerks (usually white) very nervous. They have no reason to be nervous. But than they start asking me if I need help over and over again every time I move to a different part of the store this is after I tell them I'm just looking.

    Actually another time at Barnes and Noble, my two siblings and I were standing near the door (we were about to leave to go home) laughing over a book named "Our Dumb world" about how Americans view the world. It was one of those comic-"This is the world according to dumb and ignorant Americans" geography book. I was holding the book flipping pages. We were busy laughing at the info it had for African countries in the book. Out of nowhere the store clerk comes up behind us without so much as an excuse me and asks how we're doing. It wasn't a friendly "Hi customers how are you today?" It was more of a mean, "What are you doing crowded around that book like that!" I could tell by her eyes that she wasn't happy that we were laughing loudly at a geography book and standing so close to the door. I hope she didn't assume we were about to steal it. Keep in mind my siblings are tall young black men.

    See I always felt French people were rude and racists in general. I'm not saying all French people but just the ones, I've met while traveling. I don't know what it is.

  19. @TAB
    yeah, we're not supposed to have money or nice things. My father has a Jaguar and when he once took it to a shop(the first and last time) to get it repaired, they didn't fix it properly and my father said that he had the nagging feeling that the mechanics working there were like, "how are YOU as a black man able to afford such a nice car?"

    I agree 100% with your theory about post-colonialism and the Western passport access.

  20. two examples i can recall off hand. the first was when i was at the mall with some friends one day. i was standing in line at the cinnabon (GOD! im getting hungry just thinking about it...) and this white dude with his 3 or 4 year old girl in his ams jumps in front of me. im not the confrontational type, so he got off easy. my friends and i kinda just give each other that "wtf/i cannot BELIEVE he just did that" look (honestly i think they were more offended than i was). the fact that he did it was bad enough, as if he was somehow more entitled to delicious sticky buns than i was. but what really bothered me was that he was holding his kid; pretty much teaching his little princess early on that she's more entitled than POC.

    second instance was at the airport, or as call it, the clusterf*** of nationalities. so everyone knows they board first class ticket holders first, and they announce it on the intercom. my mom, my sister and i were three of such ticket holders and we proceeded to go up to have our tickets checked. there was no one ahead of us by the time we got there, so we make our way towards the desk, and before we can even reach it, the man (yes, white) handling the tickets calls out to us, "this is for first class seating only!" my mother, brilliant girl as she is, calmly holds up the tickets and gives him that classic "side head tilt + raised eyebrow stare" as if to say "yes, is there a problem?" he reads the tickets and just says "oh yes, im sorry ma'am. go right ahead." he just gave a small apology and quickly sent us on our way. he clearly didnt want to dwell on what has just transpired.

  21. Being ignored ...

    Sometimes I don't say anything and other times I raise hell. I won't allow it to happen in my home. I once asked my ex-husband's friends to leave. The wife of the couple refused to acknowledge me over the course of an evening. My ex understood but he was still embarrassed.

    It also happened at a shopping mall when I met a friend of a friend. Again I received the "invisible woman" treatment. This time I left and I asked my friend to meet me at one the shops when she was through.

    It's difficult for me to discuss this rationally with the offender. So I tell them to leave or I leave. Except at work--I remain silent when it happens at work.

  22. @ovey

    You cannot shed your white priveledge. You can however shed your complicity with it. The only things that make your values worth anything is sticking to them when it is inconvienient to do so. You don't have to accept being "wisked" into preferrential treatment. You can say, "no thanks, these other people were here first." I'm sure the POC-around you (no matter if you are in a western country or not) dislike waiting in line just as much as you do.

  23. Well, to address the Korean student in the original post, Koreans are well known for their obsession with eye folds in particular and plastic surgery in general. It had nothing to do with that chick's school. It's a national obsession over here. As for the Chinese taking over, fortunately, they're far more practical about matters of appearance. You need only fear that they'll work you to death. Literally.

    Being the introvert that I am, I'm somewhat ok with the invisibility being a black female invites. In fact, it doesn't occur to me until I'm with a white girlfriend and am not greeted while she is (as some of the other posters have mentioned). I generally don't get worked up about it until I ask someone a question and they look at me like, "How disappointing! You speak complete sentences."

    The weird/cool thing about being black in Asia is that for most people, they don't even have a framework to put you in. It's the other expats (as pointed out here) that are annoying.

    Like someone else pointed out though, it's hard to turn down privilege when it's being offered to you. A friend and I (granted, she's blond), got invited to a VIP party with Rain (pop star, lead in Ninja Assassin) obviously on the basis of appearance (and we weren't even provocatively dressed). That wouldn't have happened if either of us were Asian. Even with other black friends, I've gotten VIP tickets to Seoul Fashion Week. I've been helped beyond what was needed, given gifts, shown around... It's hard to say 'no' so I don't.

    Whenever I see what I like to call, "White People Behaving Badly" (WPBB), I remind myself they're drunk on the privilege of appearance and hope they sober up. Likewise, I can only hope and pray that I don't allow myself to be absorbed by whatever privilege my own American passport affords me as I continue to travel the globe...

  24. I can tell you that Asians get it too, though in a different form. Though we're not perceived as dangerous, we are still treated as the "Other."

    White people have a way of standing by each other in all cases, even when it goes against their stated principles. Asians in America have learned that there's just no way for us to express an opinion that's different, even if we have that opinion. Even if a white person sees the validity of your position, you still end up being marginalized as the "other."

    So what Asians have to resort to in America is to just shut up and not express any opinions. That's why we are so quiet and careful about what we say, especially when it can affect our professional livelihoods.

    One thing about white people is that whatever their disagreements with one another, they are mostly united by racism.

  25. Wow, this post really resonates with experiences I have all the time. I'm a white woman working with an NGO in Southeast Asia. I work with another foreign woman, but she is also Asian, and so usually people assume she's a local when they first see us. Our language skills are about the same but nearly everywhere we go, the treatment we get is very different.

    I struggle to know how to respond when locals treat us differently, especially when they're going out of their way to be kind/welcoming to me. I want to be clear though -- while this behavior makes my colleague and me uncomfortable, I don't blame these people directly for treating us differently. Of course, they're responsible for their own actions, but their perception of me as "special" is the result of media worship of whiteness and interactions with white people who have used their racial privilege to marginalize.

    Thankfully though, as they get to know us, people treat us similarly -- there is still special treatment because we are foreigners, but less and less distinction between us based on our race.

    Doreen, thanks so much for this post. It has me thinking more about the way that white spaces in my city function to reinforce racial privilege, as well as the little (but not at all inconsequential) ways that I use my privilege to live more comfortably here.

  26. Many whites just fail at life. Period. I'm not concerning myself with understanding them anymore. There's no empathy, sympathy, or love for anyone other than themselves (hell, sometimes not even for like others). If this is a test to get into heaven, they should know that they are failing BIG TIME.

  27. @ hb1976

    try not to write them ALL off. ur statement describes a lot of people. not just white people. douchebags come in all colors.

  28. MindlessBreeder, honeybrown1976 specifically said "many whites" right off, so I don't understand where your appeal not to write them all off is coming from. And as has been discussed here many times, arguments that "not just white people" do something are off-topic and usually derailing.

  29. it was more so in reference to her statement that she wasnt going to try to understand them anymore. now, perhaps she meant for that to refer to the "many whites" she mentioned earlier. if so, then i misinterpreted her comment, and i get where you're coming from in not understanding my statement. however, i took it to mean that she was going to stop understanding ALL white people. again, forgive me if i've misinterpreted.

    and as far as the derailing goes, im a newbie on swpd. not my intention to break the rules. just trying to show a little fellow feeling, but in trying to do so i broke rule #9. honest, newbie mistake. wont happen again.

  30. Thanks everyone for reading and all the comments! I can't respond to everybody, but please know that I appreciate your comment even if I don't respond to it directly.

    Alii Silverwing- yeah, you can just say "I like your hair" without going on and about how interesting/neat/cool/different it is. Not hard.

    Maydarling- a really good friend of mine was dating a white guy whose parents flat-out refused to believe that she had ever traveled simply because she is black. She is really well-traveled, and obviously quite educated, but nope! Black people can't afford to buy plane tickets!

    ovey- I get the feeling from your comment that you are just throwing your hands up in exasperation at the privilege you have and don't know what to do about it. No one likes standing in line, and you aren't above it just because you're white. You can just decline when someone offers you the chance to move ahead in line.

    t-HYPE- how can you know that my student's insecurity had NOTHING to do with the kids at her school? She wasn't even in Korea, she was in China, so even if Korean's are "obsessed" with eyelids, there were obviously a lot of other factors contributing to her self-esteem.

    Good points. I don't know that anything would happen in terms of the eyelid-beauty standard if China rises to become a (the?) world super power, because even there it seems like double-fold mania is sweeping the nation. It seems, however like the pressure comes from other Asians rather than from white people, who see an epicanthic fold as being "exotic" (which is another problem in and of itself), rather than something that needs to be changed.

    Inda Lauryn- I may have to.

    TAB- really, how could someone go to Kenya and be freaked out by all the black people? Where did she think she was going, Antarctica?

  31. I've also experienced the invisibility and it's usually always from white women. Was at a store looking at makeup a couple of months ago. Space between store displays is very narrow. White woman takes a step back bumping into me, turns around to look at me, then turns back around to continue her conversation. It happens so much, I'm honestly shocked when a white woman DOES say excuse me.

  32. Awesome post (hilarious too). I want to put down a hundred yes-es if I could. Dealing with whiteness in your own country is the strangest (in an uncomfortable kind of way) feeling ever as far as dealing with whiteness goes. Because you kinda know what's happening on both sides. You've been the poc, but you've also experienced being 'white' by virtue of being Westernized or English speaking. And then there's that feeling of not knowing where your place is. And also not wanting the locals seeing you as a 'white wannabe'.

    but the white kids kept going first as if it was their property. [faithless786]

    And adults too. The number of times I've had to watch white people act like kings in Asia...oh gosh.

    As for being invisible - it's not as big an issue for me (since I don't want white privilege) as is the fact that often the white friend(s) I'm with don't notice what is happening, or revel in the attention they're getting, and/or don't have a clue that they are getting that attention because they are white and think it's normal. That irks me to no end. It makes me want to puke. Because if they don't have a clue what's happening (or choose not to know), then for me it all goes back to them not being able to tell whether a friend is a friend, or a local woman likes him for him, or because he's white.

    The assumption seems to be that you're (comparatively) rich, and clueless, and will tip well -- which I try to do, since it seems better than disappointing people. Is there an ideal response to this? [ovey]

    Yeah, don't complain the next time they charge you more than locals for the same things or charge 'white people price'. You see, depending on what it is and how it's done, it can also be interpreted as bribery or extortion (e.g. make you feel guilty for not tipping). But I do understand that sometimes it takes a lot of effort to say no, especially if they're persistent.

    The white-patron-brown-staff dichotomy is uncomfortable, but is it something the white tourists can or should attempt to remedy? [LF]

    Personally, I do not think it's your responsibility to avoid places like that or change them. If you feel guilty about it, then I think that's 'white guilt' kicking in. What I do think is not good is when the white patrons in that space make the poc feel like an intruder and unwelcome, like the patrons of the bar made Doreen and her cousin feel as though they didn't belong there.

    I do find it ironic though that even in non white majority countries that locals still try to whites (rather Europeans or Americans) with more respect than anyone else. [aan]

    I personally wouldn't call it 'ironic'. It's more like: 'stupid'. Stupid and ugly. And I've been guilty of it myself (though in a much more cunningly subtle way). And I hate it so very much. It's downright ugly. It's basically internalized racism manifesting in a more obvious way.

    And I hate it when I go to certain places in Asia and I feel compelled to speak in English, though I'm part local and speak the local language just fine, just to ensure that they don't give me service that is inferior to the other mostly white patrons since I'm paying the same amount of money.

    This post and the comments touch on so, so many raw nerves that I almost hate it.


  33. TAB- really, how could someone go to Kenya and be freaked out by all the black people? Where did she think she was going, Antarctica?

    LOL, good question! It boggles the mind, doesn't it?

    *shrug* Maybe she belongs to the same tribe that travels to an African country and ignores all the black individuals while acknowledging only white people...just that, as a new initiate, she hadn't developed a stong enough filter to screen out the "right" (wrong?) people yet, lmao.

    Seriously, though, whenever white Americans portray Kenya (film/photo/animation), it's typically full of animals in the grass but very few black people: only the occasional black guide in service to the Great White Hunter/Explorer/Traveler (talk about marginalizing non-white people in their own countries!). So maybe she was on some kind of "Lion King" tip, lol, and didn't realize that Kenya was actually more populated with people.

    I think the idea of a majority-black country was more appealing to her than the reality. I have always wondered what the thought process was for her, upon returning to the U.S., regarding her own racism.

  34. Sheeeet, I don't even compliment accents when I'm traveling, because as the tourist, I'M the one with the accent!

  35. Totally OT here:

    Macon, have you considered doing a post on the "end of the world" 2012 hype? I can't help but think that a trend consisting largely of white folks romanticizing the Mayans and their Super Special Mystic (Minority) Knowledge is something that ought to be mentioned here.

  36. @ t-HYPE,

    I'm sorry but what you said in that first paragraph of your comment just rubbed me the wrong way. You have no clue what contributed to the Korean student's comments and whether her school had anything to do with it. Moreover, just because there is a national obsession with eye folds in Korea does not mean that white standards of beauty didn't contribute to or create this national obsession. And the sweeping generalization of the Chinese offends me.

  37. Thanks for the suggestion, August, I'll certainly consider covering that common white tendency here.

  38. Yes, I've noticed this common white tendency. I was born and raised in Hawaii. This state is pretty unique from the other 49 simply because whites are the minority here. When I was younger, I remember being surprised whenever I met a white person that wasn't a tourist or from a military family--that they actually lived here. Over here, it's mostly Pacific Islanders and a lot of Asians.

    Back in elementary school, most years I'd have no white or black kids in my classes (I'm only mentioning the lack of black kids only because, in America, race relations are usually seen as a white/black problem). In fifth grade, I only had two white kids in my class and I quickly befriended one while the other acted pompous as soon as he adapted to his new environment. In a state where he is no longer part of the majority, he had the audacity to make fun of my eyes and those of my classmates.

    My example (I have more, but listing all of them would be a chore) isn't as apparent because Hawaii is part of the US, but I decided to mention my experience anyway because I've met too many fellow Americans that didn't even know we were a freaking state with running water and electricity.

    As an Asian-American, I feel like I have to speak about this whole eyelid business. It absolutely makes my blood boil when people insinuate that any Asian they see with a--what we call--"double eyefold" had plastic surgery. I've seen it on the Tyra Banks Show and a whole lot of places on the internet. It also annoys me when people claim that the Asians that have had surgery done did it to look more Western or white.

    A lot of Asians have this fold naturally, a lot of us don't. I just happen to not have a fold while my mother does. It's all genetics. It's like how black people with really dark skin tend to be viewed as less attractive than black folks with lighter skin even in the eyes of other blacks--Asians with the fold are viewed as more attractive. Whites do not have a monopoly on colored eyes, light skin, and a crease in their eyes. Many Asians have this surgery done because they are unhappy with what they were born with and want the same treatment as the ones born with the feature that society deems superior.

    I've had the misfortune of meeting Asian-Americans from different ethnic groups that referred to epicanthic folds as "ugly Korean eyes." I've had several Asian-Americans taunt me for my eyes. Having said that, Asians do not view "double eyelids" as a white trait we want to mimic. It's just viewed as the "better" trait to have.

    In Asia, however, I think it's a different story. So everything I've said thus far only applies to what I've noticed in America. Over here, Asians are subjected to the "ching chong" and the classic eye-pulling gesture from all types of people from an early age. I've had whites, blacks, Filipinos, Polynesians--you name it--do it to me. So for Asian-Americans, I think the way we've been subjected to ridicule from all races play a huge role in this plastic surgery business.

    A tad nonsensical and off-topic. My apologies.

  39. Sometimes marginalising other people is not so much about what you do as what you don't do. When I lived in Spain with my (adoptive, British) family we found that British people were often not well regarded in the local area, both because of the horrible reputation of British tourists (we were not far from Benidorm, a popular resort) and because they tend to be very cliquey: they often don't want to learn Spanish or be friendly with Spanish people. We were in a small town in the countryside but if you went as far as Benidorm, there are a lot of British-run shops and bars there and people will basically try to recreate their home life just as it was in the UK, but with more sunshine. So the locals don't see any reason to try and get along with them. And nearly all the British expatriates/tourists there were white - most PoCs in the local area were Romany gypsies or North African. Maybe it would be different in a big city, I don't know but my (white, adoptive) mother had a similar experience when she was an army wife in Corfu.

    Another thing I found was a point of contention is that the Spanish people I met generally considered themselves Caucasian/European, and some of them did not like being treated as Hispanic "foreigners" by white people. We were in Spain, it was THEIR OWN COUNTRY! You really do see people do the stereotypical things like speak English in a bad Spanish accent and expect to be understood. English is taught in schools and many people can understand at least a little bit of English, but why move to another country if you can't be bothered to learn even a few words of the language?

    I have never lived outside of Europe but I have a few white friends who've taught English in East Asia and all were pretty horrified by the behaviour of some of their white co-workers: binge drinking, getting into fights in clubs, extremely sexist/predatory behaviour towards local women, etc. And it is much the same when I've been to certain cities and tourist resorts in Europe. I think tourism in general is part of the problem but no matter what race or nationality you are, you don't have free license to act like a yobbo just because you're not in your own country. In fact being a guest in someone else's country is exactly the reason why you should be respectful and well behaved!!

  40. I get asked all the time by (white) Americans if I'm "foreign", or variants on that. What makes me want to explode, though, is that their behavior doesn't change when I inform them that I'm Native American, and thus by definition am more of a "normal American"! One person even had the nerve to tell me that I was "ungrateful" to mistrust the federal government.

  41. Doreen:

    You need to stop with the lies about white people. I mean, apart from a few skinheads, neo-Nazis and the Klan, and the NYPD, and John Mayer, and certain grandmothers and uncles, and maybe three other people, okay six, white people do not have a racist bone in their body. They do not even see skin colour! Not even if you are purple!! So what are you talking about!!? People like you imagine racism everywhere. Obama won! You need to stop living in the past. Bringing up this race stuff only makes people MORE racist. So stop already.


    Great post. Thanks.

  42. These doesn't suprise me. Some whites in African countries want to cling to their past and they have enough power/clout to do so.

    I went home recently to Kenya. In a suburb of the capital Nairobi called Karen (oh, the irony, named after Karen Blixen who was as racist as can be). There is a restaurant/bar named Marco Polo that does not admit black people. This in a majority black country. There are country clubs that didn't admit black members until the mid-eighties and nineties.

    If you read Barrack Obama's 'Dreams of my Father', there is a passage about he and a friend going to a restaurant in Nairobi and not being served while whites all around him were being served. There is an assumption that white=rich and black=poor that also drives this dynamic.

    It really is painful.

  43. @TAB

    Totally. I remember my brother's rugby team (Kenyan school) playing the local "international" school (read: white American). Before the game, a number of white boys were hurling racist epithets (all sorts of animal names, the n-word, etc.) @ my brother and his black and brown team mates. I was incredulous at the sheer amount of delusional hubris it must have taken for these white boys to indulge in such overtly racist behavior in a majority-black country. Especially right before a game that involves physical aggression.

    Wow, thanks for the blast from the past.

    I have a sneaking suspicion your brother went to the same High school I did (Lenana School) or our nemesis (Nairobi School) and they were playing RVA (Rift Valley Academy) a mostly white school for the children of expats

  44. Hi Baiskeli,
    I have a sneaking suspicion your brother went to the same High school I did (Lenana School) or our nemesis (Nairobi School) and they were playing RVA (Rift Valley Academy) a mostly white school for the children of expats

    Nope. :o) He attended St. Mary's and the school in question was ISK (International School of Kenya). It's nice to see another person from Kenya on this blog. :o)

  45. @Seadhlinn,[begin snark] why of course you were ungrateful. I mean really! Europeans came here, perpetuated acts of genocide against your people, stole your land, demoted you to 2nd/3rd class citizen status, what isn't there to be grateful for???? [snark ends]

    Some folks are so clueless. Did you have to refrain yourself from slapping this person?

  46. Excellent post!!!!! I'm noticing the voice of white american reaction to this is strangely silent......

  47. Well, "Hmmmmm," if that's a challenge or something, here's an American Ashkenazi Jew's (not exactly "white," but certainly benefiting from light-skinned western privilege) two cents.

    I'd say that when non-POC hear stories like this, there's a distinct sense of collective shame. "Oh god, are white Americans making jackasses of themselves AGAIN?" There's an urge to put one's face in one's hands when realizing that so many western tourists simply cannot seem to get it through their heads that they are GUESTS in a country run by people who are HUMAN BEINGS, just like them.

    More importantly, it makes one very conscious of one's own privilege. As someone who very much hopes to go see the world someday, it's very important to me that I am able to do this without becoming a typical western Imperialist pleasure-seeker. So far, the way to do this seems to be as easy as treating the people I come across with respect and not expecting to be treated like royalty because of the color of my skin. It absolutely confounds me that more westerners can't seem to follow these simple guidelines.

    Personally, I'm fortunate to attend a very ethnically and nationally diverse university in a large city, so I have had a lot of exposure to cultures from the entire world. I hope that this will prepare me for being a respectful and conscientious traveler someday. I've taken the word "exotic" out of my vocabulary and replaced it with "that's interesting." Because I do love learning about other cultures, but I want to be able to do it without othering them--we Jews are plenty conscious of how that feels.

    Some of us DO get it. We're just more rare than we'd like to be.

  48. uh... Ashkenazi Jewish white people, marginalizing Palestinians in their own country since 1948???

  49. @ Hmmmmm

    I can't speak for other white Americans but, I've only been out of the country once... to Mexico. I already knew how to speak Spanish and never expected anyone to or made anyone speak to me in English. I rode the public bus, went into the city to do things and to eat. I made friends with the staff at my touristy hotel and not for what they could give me - nothing but conversation was ever exchanged between us, but because after a couple of days of seeing them there I recognized them and we just hit it off.

    I'm not using this as a brag. It's the only relevant story I have. Sometimes I just keep quiet when what I have to say is either irrelevant or if I have nothing to say. I wasn't raised with many white people to begin with, so it's not like I was under some delusion that I was a special guest to Mexico.

  50. Sean: I'd rather you not assume that you know my political leanings and stance on Israel just because I've shared my ethnic background, thanks.

  51. @Lhunfindel - I'm writing a book on black women in metal and I would love to talk to you:

  52. @Alii Silverwing {Is there a way to express, "Damn, you look amazing. I love what you've done with your hair," without white othering POC?}

    Not discounting TAB's opinion by any means, but just a thought based on past experience. I had this conversation with an Arab-American friend, who didn't like white ppl complimenting her hair (or more awkwardly, skin). I'm not proud to admit that I just kept talking about why *I* thought it was okay to compliment her hair. Like you, I felt like I was giving the same type of compliment I'd give a white woman. I ignored what she was telling me, which boiled down to: "Me and people who look like me get their physical appearance referenced constantly, without our consent and often to our disadvantage. Can't you think of something else to talk about with me?"

  53. Hi bluemorpho,

    I wasn't saying complimenting my hair is offensive per se but rather how it's done. "I love what you've done with your hair" = ok by me; "I wish I had your hair" = suspect. Here's why: chances are, if you told another white woman that you wished you had her hair, there wouldn't be a change in your privileged status. I could list the many othering experiences they would be repeatedly subjected to if they had my hair but...suffice it to say there are plenty. Most white women rarely have to think about that, unless they have black and/or bi/multiracial children w/curly or coily hair. The obliviousness to the realities of people who don't have naturally straight (or wavy/loosely-curled) hair is a sign of privilege.

    Black people have been in this country (now = U.S.A.) for hundreds of years. The fact that we still can't walk into any salon anywhere in the country and find stylists (incl. black ones) who have been trained to properly handle, cut, style curly/coily, fragile hair definitely marginalizes blacks in this country.

    I also agree with your Arab American friend's comments about finding other topics (I'd add it to white people who need to talk about racism with me - b/c, seriously, what else would they talk @ with a black person? "Everyone" knows that's all black people care about, lmao).

  54. I was staying in Elmina on a 3-week trip in Ghana from Howard University. When we went to the pool (all of us were Black Americans) the white hotel guests were all staring at us disapprovingly like we were so loud and uncouth - like we shouldn't have been there.

    I had the same reaction as the author of this post - I was like, You all can do that in the States, but you're not gonna do it in the motherland (and one of them had a bag with a print of Africa in kente that was on backwards). So I went to their end of the pool and did a gigantic bellyflop which pretty much soaked them.

    They left.

  55. This site is awesome. I'm reading back on the old posts, a friend linked to it in twitter.

    Background, I'm white, and grew up in a neighborhood with at least some diversity, when I was little my first closest "best" friends were Laotian and black. I now live in a place with virtually no people of color, and it's weird.

    This site is a total education. Well done doing some navel gazing about your role as a white person in racism. I love the guest posts and different voices. I honestly want to confront it in my own life.

    From a personal point of view, I don't want my life and my family to grow up poor, lacking in experience, understanding, and all the good stuff that comes from knowing people with different backgrounds- economic, cultural, lifestyle differences, etc.

    From a broader point of view, I feel that it's just unfair and wrong... and I don't want to be a part of it.

    Sadly, racism and prejudice is rampant in Ireland. Not just to people of color, but any of the economic migrants from other EU countries, the Travellers (a nomadic community with their own language in Ireland) and political refugees... it's shocking.

    I think Irish people had an attitude that we couldn't possibly be prejudiced here. Because of being colonized for so long, abused, being subject to prejudice and discrimination across Europe (signs like NO IRISH in germany, etc). But the sad truth is... Ireland missed the chance to turn that experience into understanding.

    You'd find the older generation of Irish people are actually *less* prejudiced. They would be genuinely curious about people from another country, and much more welcoming. But not the more recent generations.

    I remember when I first moved here I felt creeped out by so many white people... and I'M WHITE. I remember looking around in Dublin one day and wondering "Where's everybody else?" Ten years later, we have a more and more diverse country here, and Irish people are discovering the scary truth. Yes, we're just as bad.

    One of my good friends, a Taiwanese-American joked to me he wouldn't be visiting me in Ireland because he didn't want to have people look at him shocked because he didn't have a Chinese accent. And sad to say, I know what he means.


    Gotta go back to reading. This is great. Thanks so much to all the contributors.

  56. I could share so many stories of maltreatment by white people, but I'll stick with these 2:

    #1: we had this big national holiday in my country (Holland), so the streets of my city were crowded with people. My sister and I had forgotten all about it and chose this day for a spot of shopping. We wanted to cross the streets, but it was very busy so we politely asked if we could pass. Many other people had gone before us, so we didn't think anything of it. As we were moving across the sea of people, this one lady blatently refused to step aside. We were stuck. I asked her again and again, but she said she had enough. I asked other surrounding people to move, but nobody listened. I felt as if they were doing it on purpose, immediately taking the woman's side (even if she was wrong). I warned them that I was going to push them away, and did so when they kept ignoring us, causing an immense stir. From all over people tried to hit and punch me, but I protected my sister and kicked back (black belt karate). This scared all of them away, but when we reached the edge this one lady who witnessed everything punched me in the back. I turned around and hit her in the face so hard, she began to cry. Then I took my sister and ran like a mofo.

    #2: I was visiting a big store in Amsterdam with (again) my sister and really had to go to the restroom. I asked her to pay the fee so I could go. When I came back, I assumed she paid it and we left. Then we heard the toilet lady scream 'Hey, you people still have to pay.' I asked my sister, she said she forgot. I then apologized to the lady and paid. She raised her voice ans said 'you people think you can do anything and get away with it.' I tried to remain calm and wanted to explain the situation, but as she kept talking louder till she was screaming racist profanities I called her racist white trash (I know...she really was though) She then got up in my face and we both started screaming at the top of our lungs. Needless to say, it got really ugly. Normally I would've walked away, but that day I refused to. My sister had to drag me away or I would have kicked her ignorant #ss.

    I'm just thankful my parents thaught me and my siblings to stand up for ourselves, and by Gryffindor, we will continue to do so :P

  57. @Maureen: I LOL'd. Not at your pain, but at the white D-Bag who got all weepy when you had the gall to defend yourself after she'd hit you.

    Keep on rocking the free world.

    Oh, and this is NOT hating on Holland or anywhere in Western Europe because lord knows there ain't no happiness at home or anywhere, but I lurve it whenever some some West European Whitey pulls the "oh, we don't have racism HERE, at least not much as in the US! Racism? That's something the Americans invented."

    Anyone else get that a lot, or is this just my crazy colored-ness talking?

    And by "Americans," these jokers mean white folks. Cos the rest of us are just visiting here, riiight?

  58. TAB and Baiskeli, nice to see other Kenyans on this blog... Kwaherini :)

  59. @CB

    i get that a lot. hell, i wrote a post in of the threads here about it. it's always funny coming from a country that not only created the race bs in the first place, but slavery and colonialism as well. they also have a habit for speaking for the POC in their country, stating everything is good, except for a few nazi here and there.

    it's like they think the u.s. (not canada, the caribbean, or central and south america, they don't seem to count) just popped into existence with white folks and ready made enslaved and dead non-whites everywhere. they had nothing to do with it. some 'who me?' shit, lol

  60. @CB Thanks, I will :) I can laugh about this story too in retrospect (and so do all my friends when I tell it), it just seemed soo unfair at the moment.

    Regarding the racist thing, heck yeah there is racism but not just in Western Europe, countries like Italy currently also have issues with African immigrants.)

    I've experienced some pretty nasty things growing up, but my parents had even uglier confrontations coming to Holland. They raised us to rise above it though, by the power of knowledge and hard working (sentimental violins):P

  61. Love this post and all the illuminating comments.

    What this immediately reminds me of is the common derailing tactic of "but I've been to/live in [foreign country] where white people are a minority, so I know what it's like!" This comes up all the time, and white people who use it don't seem to grasp that there is a global hierarchy of race and that their white privilege travels with them; and furthermore, that *temporarily* being on a lower rung of the ladder *in a certain context* does not negate their privileged status in the overall hierarchy.

    I think the examples given here, of white people making non-white people feel marginalized in their own countries, a) arise from the same blindness as the sort of derailing comment mentioned above, and b) provide a resounding counterexample to that kind of "logic".

  62. This happens me a lot where I live. Like you, I grew up outside the country of my ethnicity, in the US, and decided to live in Asia some 30 years later. Yet here in this Asian country, any time a white person shows up, he refuses to believe I am American. I've had white Americans tell me how great an English accent I have; this AFTER me telling them about 5 times that I too was American and was born there, raised there, and spent the first 30 years of my life there. This cognitive disconnect that whites have in non-white countries in meeting an ex-pat make me think that deep down, whatever one may say, they associate whiteness with being American.

  63. honeybrown 1976 - I totally understand how you feel. I'm at a point where I don't even care if I go to jail. I truly don't because the torment I have been through, similar to many of the stories I've read on this site, make me not want to go outside my door at times. I'm done figuring out whites and I'm through with Germans saying "only a few of us whites are Nazis, you should come to my country and see how we all are"...I'm tired of hearing the same song sung over and over again. But yes, whites have so MUCH priviledge travelling the world...just watch the show The Amazing Race and you'll see.

  64. @ariel.choy.
    Oh I care if I go to jail. I'm not going to let them take my freedom from me. hell no.

    However I now just don't have much time for many people. I do not go out of my way for them and I expect the worst. So far it has served me well.

  65. I grew up in brooklyn , ny so typically there is no white people at all in my school typically around 4 white students its very diverse I'm not used to the racism you don't really see white people till you go on manhatten I was on the train with my friends were all latinos we were a little loud I understand this white lady gives us look like if we were neanderthals and like if she was better then I was really suprised and mad b/c typically in ny you don't see it


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