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What Is White Privilege?

by Stephanie Keesee about a year ago in humanity
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My Experience Passing As White As A Multiracial Person Pt. 1

When I started this blog it was with the intention of sharing my perspective. As I have been writing some changes have begun to take place.

I wanted to share my truth. Striving to be genuine as an author is very important to me and I do not like to write about things I am not willing to apply to myself.

As I began to circle this issue; viewing it from all sides what I have observed has shocked me to the core.

I could not figure out why I have stuffed this issue down. Why have I looked away sweeping it under the rug? What was at the root of my anger towards this being shoved in my face? Privilege.

Granted I have had my own dealings with racism as a mixed race person. In my early years I lived with my black father surrounded by the black community who considered me black and accepted me into the community. My family was heavily involved in the community and I was able to listen to my father and uncles discuss important social issues amongst themselves. My grandmother encouraged me to make something of myself as a woman to combat the systemic oppression.

I am able to pass for white. In my life I have passed for white. There was a period living in the rich white suburbs that I learned how to pass for white when I was 7 years old.

After that, I stopped passing when I moved to a predominantly black community in the northern United States.

The catalyst for me returning to the practice of passing for 15 years was moving to the south.

In this town you were considered less than human by most if you were black. It was perfectly acceptable for students to make blatantly racist remarks. If you spoke out there was retaliation from the school.

I changed myself completely finding ways to get along with the white people in my school by passing.

I entertained their racism. I stifled my urge to tell them how racist they were being and allowed their excuses. “Black on black crime” “Black people did it to themselves” “They are all criminals anyway” “They are not well educated” “They are ghetto” and my all time favorite “You can’t be black you are so different from them. You are white to me”.

White people would interact with me as if I was another white person and the things that flew out of their mouth was nothing short of outrageously disgusting.

I shirked in fear holding my tongue and the burning rage inside my chest knowing I was a coward; a deserter.

I lived my life knowing I was a mere façade. Knowing that what I had inside me did not match my outsides.

I spent the next 15 years being ashamed of being part black believing the lie that is fed to everyone that black people are worth nothing. That we had no heroes. The way media and news portrayed black people and my own experience with the pain and anger toward my skin tone was all I knew. I did not have access to any history or information at that time to tell me otherwise. I built my life on a white washed foundation.

I married a white man, had all white friends, refused to engage in the black culture at all, went to a white church and turned my back completely on my ancestry. I even began telling people I was only part “Native American” to excuse how dark I got in the summer.

The marriage was more like that of a slave and a master than it was a union. I worked myself into the ground doing everything and serving him as if I were his property. Attempting to address this was only met with more oppression.

Eventually I began to feel dead inside. I was living a complete lie. Maintaining an image that went against everything my family raised me to believe. Slowly, I began to rot from the inside out. Eventually it caught up with me and I had to break away from the pressure filled demands of living a lie. I walked away from everything.

Abandoning my marriage, home and church I set off on my own to attempt to recover myself. Scrambling for years to figure out who I was I could not find what was missing.

To Be Continued ...

humanity

About the author

Stephanie Keesee

I write poetry, short stories in the genres of children's fiction, adult sci-fi/fantasy and horror. On occasion I may write cultural commentaries, inspirational articles, how to articles and fashion related articles.

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