Thursday, March 25, 2010
We White Folks
I happen to be very, very white, as you can see from the picture. I don't normally spend much time thinking about it, because I've been white for as long as I can remember, but today...it was brought drastically to my attention.
I was perusing the Kern Valley Sun's website today, reading letters to the editor, when I came across this quote from a local resident named Tiffany:
"You White Folks have profited from the Native Americans long enough."
I should have let it slide. I should have just prayed for the person, ignored it and moved on with my day- but something inside me rebelled.
I am a high school teacher. I pay my taxes and do my best to make the world around me a better place. I know that I live and work in a place that used to belong exclusively to the Native Americans. I do feel a little sad by that...but I'm not really sure what to do about it.
I am not out extracting money from poor innocent native americans named Tiffany. Perhaps there are "white folks" out there doing that. But I do not think it is fair to lump every white person in the Kern River Valley into their number.
So I wrote this poem and sent it in to the comments on the website:
We White Folks
You White folks.
Why do those words make my spine grow chill?
The barbarianism of my forefathers damns me, is that it?
I am just a person trying to make my way in this world, just like you.
And my skin just happens to be white.
That doesn’t make me less of a person,
And it doesn’t make me any better or worse than you. "
Perhaps I wasted my time. As a member of a dominant culture, I guess I shouldn't take offense at things like this.
I'm white. I can't control that. My skin is pasty, my hair is mousy, and my thighs are huge. It's the way I was born. I don't go tanning to try to obtain a more socially-acceptable skin tone because I'll probably get skin cancer- plus, I have better things to do with my time and if God made me the shade of a hard boiled egg, why should I try to change that?