WHAT BLACK LIVES MATTER TAUGHT ME ABOUT MY WHITE SUPREMACY
AND HOW I FINALLY UNDERSTOOD DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING BIRACIAL AND BLACK
As a biracial (or mixed-race) person one never fully fits in. In the last couple of days, I had some really painful insights and realizations around the difference between being biracial and being a person of color.
So bear with me while I try to share what I realized.
*𝐈𝐭'𝐬 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐲
My mother is white, my father not.
This what I observed when I was younger:
* Classmates asking me at what gasoline pump my father worked when they heard my father worked for Shell.
They automatically assumed that a brown man did 'A Brown Man's Work.'
* Parents of friends asking me if I slept in the coal shed (I had to ask my father why they kept asking me that).
* People crossing the street when we approached. And when - after years - I asked my father if he genuinely didn't see that, he said: 'I always see it. I choose to feel sorry for them.'
* The visiting Art School teacher accusing me of laying on the beach all the time instead of creating art.
Pointing at my skin. Me, after having worked for many days without any sleep, trying to apologize for having darker skin than my super white classmates.
* My father trying to stop a car - in the South of Germany - because my mother had been bitten by an insect and went into an anaphylactic shock.
Cars speeding away. Afraid for a 1.60 cm tall brown man desperately waving his arms.
* Of course, there are all the usual racial slurs:
'Go back to your own country.'
'What does it feel like to fuck a brown girl?'
You know, stuff people say.
Then I remembered the other side.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝗪𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐒𝐢𝐝𝐞.
* My mother with her 'I'm Queen of the Fucking Universe' face, walking towards the French Gendarmerie, who came to remove that weird group of brown people camping legally in the woods.
The changed attitude of the police when they saw a beautiful white woman holding Dutch passports with an impossible long French name.
From "Let's remove those gypsies" to "Oh! pardon Madame".
Saved in less than 3 minutes by my mother's whiteness.
Or the betrayal.
* A man in The Hague asks me if I'm an Indo (mixed Dutch /Indonesian) and I feel the piercing eyes of my mother.
I say: "I'm French". And it feels like I've betrayed everything.
When he's gone my mother says: "Well done, they don't have to know" and I immediately know that my mother is ashamed for my color and for what my color represents.
(this one hurts by the way)
Then I started to think about: had there ever been a time in my life where I felt like my life was in danger?
And the answer is no! NEVER.
And the reason is: I might LOOK brown from the outside, but I grew up with White Privilege. And lots of It!
When I'm angry and raise my voice: I'm so freaking white!
My posh accent comes out. The big words, the entitlement:
"Who do YOU think you are. Do you even KNOW who I am?"
There's not a single person of color in the entire world who can get away with that.
Okay, maybe the Obama's.
Or Oprah, even though she was handed a cheaper bag instead of the fancy bag she wanted. Because a person of color surely can't afford an expensive bag.
I can go everywhere, I can do everything, at any time of the day or night, I can own whatever space I please, because of my whiteness.
Dear white people, we're all freaking entitled.
We have been taught that the world is ours and we took it.
We've been raised with the idea that this is the way.
We have been told that we don't have to share.
It's time to become aware of our white privilege to fully understand White Supremacy and share.