by Mia McKenzie
When I talk about “white people” I am talking about people who exist in bodies that give them access to white privilege. Some people exist in these bodies and get these privileges but don’t ID as white. The thing about whiteness, though, is that you don’t have to claim it to have it. You may not want to be white, for whatever reasons, but you don’t choose whiteness. Whiteness chooses you. And when it does, it gives you—whether you want or acknowledge them or not—a whole slew of privileges that non-white folks don’t get. Even if you are poor. Even if you are a woman. Even if you are queer and/or trans. Even if you are elderly. Even if you are a person with a disability. All of these things will, of course, affect your life in enormous ways and affect your access to any number of things. But they don’t erase whiteness.
How to Know If You Are White:
2. Have you ever been pulled over by a cop? If so, were you extracted from your vehicle and made to lie on the ground? Were you degraded in any way? Were you beaten? Were guns pointed at you? Did you feel in fear for your life? If not, you may be white.
4. Do people ask you where you’re from, and when you answer, “I’m from here,” do they ask, “No, like, where are youfrom from?” If not, you may be white.
6. Have you ever been mistaken for a valet while wearing a suit? If not, you may be white.
8. Do people reach out and touch your hair/body without your permission and then accuse you of being too sensitive or of overreacting when you don’t like it? If not, you may be white.
10. Do you see a lot of people who are the same color as you in movies, on TV, in magazines, etc. who are not portraying stereotypes or caricatures? If so, you may be white.
12. Do people assume, without knowing you or ever speaking to you, that you are unintelligent, a criminal, good with computers, a terrorist, lazy, that you don’t speak English, or that you are poor? If not, you may be white.
Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She has a novel debuting in the fall and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. Her work has been published at Jezebel.com, and recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man, and Crunk Feminist Collective. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.
Pre-order your copy of Mia McKenzie’s queer literary novel, The Summer We Got Free.
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