- Area: Humanities
- Program: Composition
- Type of Writing: Memoir
- Course Level: 2000
- English Speaking Nativeness: Native
- Year: 2017
- Paper ID: H.C.M.2.N.2.7.772
When you were a child, what do you remember about your friends? What hand they used when coloring? Their favorite shirt? The color of their skin? At what point do you remember judgements happening based on the color, or lack thereof, of your skin? This isn’t a story about happy endings or even sad ones, but of the cold, hard truth about being raised as a white, privileged girl who had no idea why skin color mattered, until it threatened the way her friends and family viewed her.
Cultural dexterity, according to the author of Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy, Sheryll Cashin, is “The ability to enter a situation, outnumbered by a different group, able to experience with comfort. It is the opposite of color blindness… It is the ability to see and understand difference and accept it, rather than demand someone assimilate themselves to your cultural norms,” (Cashin). I feel as though everyone starts off with a high cultural dexterity, in the sense that as a child you don’t feel the things you are taught to feel towards other “groups” of people and by that, you look for friends who have similar interests as you, and not because of their social standpoint. Hatred is created, and unfortunately, I was bred to hate and oh were the odds against me. Lucky for me, I was also born with the ability to love as well as the ability to question the hatred of a person based on that person’s skin color. It all started sophomore year, during math class.
I walked in unknowing of what world I was really a part of, drawn to a really nice, handsome boy. He also happened to be black. That sentence wouldn’t normally make me quiver, but the events that followed throughout our entered relationship are indeed those of an unspoken novel. He uttered the word “hello” and that began our unfaltering friendship and ultimate budding romance. Due to the location of my growing up, Texas, unfortunately interracial couples were those that were not of the popular variety. When I entered into a relationship with Brian, it began as any other blossoming infatuation; we held hands, went to the movies together, I met his parents, he met mine… and that last part is where the downward spiral sets in. At first, my friends were supportive, at least in the way of “oh, it won’t last anyway, so who cares?” Have you ever been told that your worth is no longer valid because you are dating someone who happens to be black? Well, I have. The phrase uttered from the mouths of my genetic makeup “what kind of girl dates a black man when she can have other, more respectable gentlemen?” How could I possibly make my parents more disappointed in me? No matter how nice Brian was to my friends, no matter how respectful towards my parents he behaved, it was never good enough, for anyone. His parents liked me okay as well, but ultimately knew what was the inevitable; we lived in two separate worlds, and he would suffer with more struggles than I could ever imagine. At first, I was able to brush aside the snide remarks of “no white guy will ever want to date you now” or “he only dates snowflakes,” until one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. My mother was somewhat better, but not by much of a margin and constantly reminded me that she isn’t racist, but “I could always do better.”
When the day came that I had to fumble over those four little words, “we need to talk” I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would take on not only my future political views, but also the way it would distance me from my family, creating an outlier within the Craig clan. Brian “knew it was coming” and was upset, rightfully, about how things turned out. Ultimately, we broke up because my father no longer spoke to me and wouldn’t until I broke it off with Brian. Feeling that indescribable feeling of complete and utter isolation, I made my bed. The waterfall of emotions experienced by myself and Brian kept us from remaining friends even. At 16, my whole future was on the line and I was not equipped to give it up this soon. I’m sure we would have gone separate ways due to some other external source, but considering racism was our ultimate demise, I felt as though I was completely disobeying my own morals and life lessons I had been taught from an early age. Hypocrisy was now weighing on my shoulders upon the realization that “separate, but equal” was still very real. I was born into a world (my world, anyway) in which segregation and racism were and continue to be very much alive, and now even more than ever, thriving. I hope this small tidbit from my life can open the eyes of everyone and to force them to take a step back and realize that this is what white privilege looks like.