I just finished listening to Macklemore's new song "White Privilege II" after a week of raw processing about race with multiple people. I about died, cried with a cacophony of emotions with the line "white supremacy isn't just a white dude in Idaho" for I grew up in Idaho around many white supremacists. Growing up there I learned subtle and not so subtle messages that were not true about myself. In the end, it would take me half my life to begin healing those early childhood wounds, wounds that have quietly continued to haunt me as I became a young adult, a father, and soon to be a husband.
When I turned 18, I could not wait to get out of Idaho and left for the grey skies and liberal views of Seattle. However, even in liberal Seattle I learned to still be vigilant, the world does not see me as my friends see me. Seattle has been good to me. I never had a problem with the police there, a welcome relief from the time in Idaho when I had been pulled over five times in one month and never ticketed. That does not mean that there were no problems with Seattle PD, but from 18 to 33 I had zero altercations with officers. Moving to California was a return to reality and a return to vigilance.
I landed in Seattle in 1998 where that November Proposition 200 passed in Washington. This proposition remove any preferences on the basis of race, sex, national origin, color or ethnicity for the goal of creating a diverse student body among other things. As debates about it ensued over the next few years, I felt all eyes on me. At the time Seattle University was not a diverse student body. I became the poster boy for diversity. I had to answer for the minority view in every class in a private school with a predominantly wealthy white student body. People wondered if I got in on the quota. I wondered if I got in on the quota... I had to prove that I belonged there academically, a stress I would never wish on anyone, but in a weird way it worked out for me, I am now a doctor.
I am vigilant about how I am SEEN. I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about: being pulled over, about getting shot while I am on my run, being perceived as a sex object, being perceived as a sexual predator, being seen as unintelligent, being seen as a thief, being snubbed in the surf lineup, being a perfect father so I don't loose my daughter, being seen as an Uncle Tom, being seen as militant, what people think about my hair, my daughter getting in trouble in school, explaining my races, getting searched at airports and boarders, being seen as cheap, being an oreo, being a coconut, being seen as abusive to partners, and never ever show ANGER. Angry men of color are scary. I wish I could express it the way he did, but will not. Be cool and unemotional. I am Spock. I have not gotten to BE. Hold your tongue, cope with the ache in your jaw from not saying what needs to be said in the moment. Take a white pill for my growing hypertension, not for me, I am treating it's cause...
This my friends is White Privilege. If you don't have to worry about the things in the above paragraph, then you have White Privilege. For those who are still in denial of this concept please watch this scene from "The Color of Fear". If you still don't get it, you never will. For those that want to go a little deeper watch the film "Traces of the Trade".
I am tired of being a second class citizen. I am unpacking my baggage, someone else will have to carry that shit now.