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THE BE-SIDES: I AM WHITE

THE BE-SIDES: I AM WHITE

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By B.E.

I am white.

It is painful for me to admit, but it is time I came clean. I was raised, for the most part, in white suburbia along with friends who came from homes with similar economic situations and ancestry with similar cocktails of European blood.

The reason I make note of this is that, despite the fact that I grew up in an analogous environment, fraught with middle class ignorance and small town aspirations, my parents somehow aided in my ability to break free of my pedestrian upbringing and be open to new experiences and new people. No small feat for a girl who could name the black kids she went to school with.

Most everyone I know has experienced some sort of discrimination. Many believe that being a white kid from the suburbs makes you immune to such scrutiny, but it most certainly does not. In college my co-workers paid no mind to the fact that I too was sweating my ass off and taking all of the double shifts I could handle because they were under the assumption that my daddy paid for everything. An assumption made all the more humorous when you actually know the man that (with my mother) gave me life. At first I was offended, and then became indifferent.

This minor infraction is laughable when compared to what so many people have been subjected to. I realize it pales in comparison and I am most certainly not trying to assert the similarities on level of severity, just principal.

My maturation has largely taken place out from under the wings of my parents, but I cannot help to remain grateful for the fact that they, unlike so many people I have come to meet, never instilled in me the importance of race at all. It was not until I grew up, moved out and inserted myself into cultures with which I felt more at home that I realized people even cared about what color someone else was or what religion they practiced. Perhaps this can be largely attributed to my Northern California upbringing, but I think it is more than that.

 A couple of years ago I was speaking to a friend of mine who is not only black, but Southern. He and I have had countless conversation about race, and it is always nice to have someone with whom you feel you can say or ask anything.  I would speak very openly and honestly when we would chat. There was a naiveté that I only show at rare and intimate moments. During one of our personal UN meetings my Southern gentleman turned to me, and said in earnest, you realize you’re unique in this, do you not? And honestly, I didn’t. I thought I was the norm and those other people made up small factions like the Tea Party.

I am often asked if my parents mind that I date outside of my race and, if it were not for those questions from acquaintances and unassuming strangers, it would not have crossed my mind. And furthermore, if these lost souls are unaware that biracial babies are the cutest, then they have much to learn.

This is not to say that I am color blind, or some sort of Mother Theresa. I see clearly and my wardrobe includes far more mini skirts than habits. What I wonder is why was I lucky enough to be raised this way and many were not. As a child, it was luck and as an adult it a choice. Luckily, the choice was easy for me. I just wish it were for more people.

B.E. is a photographer and aspiring freelance writer residing in New York City.

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