Never before in my life have I ever been equated to the color of my skin. I have never once given my skin color much thought. I know that is a huge red flag to white privilege, I get it! Coming to a country that is primarily darker skinned than me, and the spectrum of skin color here is very diverse, I often hear “White Girl” or “Brownin”. I am deeply troubled by this. I notice that people from Asian decent are referred to as Mr./Ms./Mrs. Chin or Chiny boy/girl. People of Indian decent are referred to as Indian. Then there are the variety of flavors of darker names such as: “Blackie”, “Chocolate”, “Mocha”, “Oily” and the painful list goes on.
For the first time in my life my skin color means the difference between how I get services and how I will be treated. Not that it was not so back home, I was just super unaware of this. Again, White privilege, I totally get it! The even more degrading part of this whole complex colorism is when you are female. So not only am I white, but a girl and that means every man I come in contact with in some way expects me to worship him. I lose my identity two-fold, now I am a white commodity as opposed to a brown or black commodity. Men seem to think that it is ok to say things to women they do not know that they would never say to an Aunt or their mother. Seriously it wears you down. In America I would verbally backlash him so hard his head would spin, here if you do so it can create a safety issue. Women are expected to respond positively to this street harassment, and make no mistake this is harassment!
For me it gets even worse when someone touches me without my permission. This has happened twice. Once on the street I was walking a man came out of nowhere and grabbed my hand and tried to drag me to a bus, a bus that I had no intention or gave no interest in getting on. I stopped, a dead stop! I have the best standing bitch face you ever saw, I promise! He tried to drag me but I refused to budge. He turned around and looked at me and said, “Why you mad?” I replied, “You are touching me!” His response was astonishment and he said “You vexed with me now?” My anger deepening and my rage starting to show, I said, “Get your hands off of me!” I was literally ready to throw down right there, I suspect he realized this and let go, called me some names and then went off to grab some other unsuspecting soul. The other time was at the bus park, a man was leading me to a bus that I wanted to get on and another grabbed me and tried to drag me to a different bus. I again stopped still, informed him to “unhand me right now!” Then he tried to shove me onto the bus but I walked away and refused to load the bus. I made the bus wait a good 12 minutes before I returned. This man saw me and stepped aside and pointed to the seat I should take. I have not had much problem at the bus park since that day. I think standing my ground silently was the most effective thing I could have done.
A Jamaican woman would likely not have been grabbed in such a manner. At least I hope not, I have never seen them do that to a Jamaican woman before. I have had the taxi driver make people get out of the front seat to put me in the front, but after I realized it was about my skin color, I refuse to allow them to do this anymore. Not that I do not want the front, but I do not want it based on a perceived privilege that I have not earned. Sometimes I am in the front at the taxi stand and I see a woman come up and I offer the front if they are frail or large, since it will be more comfortable for everyone if the larger person sit alone in the front.
We have not had water to my house in 3 weeks, this means all the tanks are running low. I cannot do laundry, I have to bucket bathe and dishes are not fun at all. In fact today I finally cleaned house because the ants were overwhelming me. The neighbors think I should call and complain because I am white and they will respond. This is such a terrible way to get things done, but it is sadly true. I got action on a sewer break that had been ignored for 2 years by simply stating that it was health issue, but mostly because I am a foreigner and white.
I know that most minorities in America have to constantly be aware of their skin color because it defines them. (Minorities? Really I think the racial divide is no longer a majority/minority breakdown but a diversity breakdown, but how do you say people of other skin color than white without sound like a small-minded bigot? In fact why does skin color even matter at all?) This is a truly unfair and unequal paradigm. I despise this privilege and wonder how I can make it better? Firstly by acknowledging that it does exist instead of denying it. The second thing that can happen is that we as a society can look for my inclusive languages to describe our diversity. I personally prefer to use people’s names as opposed to he, she, it, and African-American, or Korean American. It just compartmentalizes us all and tries to put us all in these neat little boxes for society interpretations, but really all it does is create bigger rifts. I do not have an answer, but I know that even here where the majority of people have darker skin, there is still this inequality based on the tone of your skin. (Many wars within Africa have been based on skin-tone, Rwanda, Liberia, South Africa, just to name a few off the top of my head.) So racism or colorism as it is referred to here are very much part of human nature, and we must find a part of our nature that overcomes this fact.