a spoken word piece by Teresa
I am white. I am a caucasian that could get lost in the snow – my pigment matching each colorless flake. I am white, so I’m bad with spices and for most of my life I couldn’t eat hot Cheetos because my throat couldn’t take the heat. I remember my first and last time having bitter melon and I spit out the remaining contents into a napkin and drank two bottles of water following its leave. I marvel at my friends who have cabinets aligned with condiments beyond my knowledge of just salt and pepper.
And I can’t dance either. I am white so that means I’m off beat to the macarena. My two left feet tangle into each other. My body rolls awkwardly and can’t listen to the song the same way my head does. These traits are embedded into my skin, but at least it’s no stereotype that gets embedded into my tombstone. Traits that won’t make me ashamed of my color, won’t minimize my voice, but will make it appear louder. My whiteness does not limit my future into a box quarantined with people of my kind.
I personify the rights gifted to me by the God whose complexion matches mine despite being of Hebrew descent. And the iconic, white Christian God that is said to love all of His children is used to exemplify blonde haired and blue eyed supremacy. An outdated, yet modern metaphor of how difficult it is to be colored. Only white people look holy in their skin, anything else can be regarded as sin, caged in a hell that burns in dark pigment.
As a white person, I can be American because melanin seems to adopt prefixes. While a person of color might be considered a subcategory of someone from the U.S. Words like “Asian,” “African,” “Spanish,” are hyphenated before what they actually are, which is just American. Some people believe that their roots taint our land. Freedom only appears applicable to those lighter than tan.
How ironic it is to be against immigration when white people planted their feet into this soil long after other flowers had claimed it as their own, but the weeds pulled out their roots from underneath and made believe they discovered their own fertilized ground.
As a white person, I unintentionally wear my privilege like I am a lesbian holding a flag at a pride parade. The only difference is that nobody is telling me to stop flaunting it.
It shows in how nobody has their eyes fixed on my hands as I shop, because obviously the only criminal in this store is the man wearing dreadlocks.
It means I can go through airport security without it being assumed that I’m a terrorist.
It means aspects of my culture are not devalued with mockery.
Khakis, Northface, and UGGs get treated differently than turbans, niqabs, and burqas do.
Blackface is a funny trend and, oh, how humorous it is to cover up a joke with another.
As a white person, I never needed to be saved from my own skin.
I was never imprisoned in a cage of melanin.
My pigmentation was never a crime.
It means I cried over Michael Brown for two reasons last year:
- His demise was unjust, but I suppose his skin was considered the same.
- I stood over the bathroom sink, scrubbing away at his memory because my father told me to rid my hand of the ink that spelt that nigger’s name
And I told myself I would color my blank skin with the names of everyone cursed into their blackness, but I realized there isn’t enough room on my body for all of them to fit.
It means that I know no relatives of mine will die of police brutality.
I won’t get shot six times with my arms raised because of my whiteness.
I won’t get called pretty for a black girl, chica, or chink.
I never got called pretty for a white girl.
It means my skin color won’t be degraded into a fetish.
Never did I get asked, “Are you European or Polish?”
Nobody ever needed to know.
Nobody ever needed to tell me to go back to where I came from.
Nobody ever suggested to build up a wall that excluded me.
I never got isolated into a species treated like anything other than human being.
Being white means I’m too young to be thinking about preparing eulogies.
I might live longer than my brown friends will.
Pale represents purity, a universal understanding.
Darkness is fear and death, a horrifyingly true expression.
It means stereotypes associated with people who look like me will not lead us to our graves
But it means we will live to watch our friends being buried in theirs
Saying each tribute to our comrades with finger guns pointed behind our backs
And voices that fade in solemn prayer.
Teresa is in ninth grade. She says, “I love art, but writing is the only form of art that I completely relish. I suck at drawing; anatomy is hard.”