Well-Meaning White People
I’m not apposed to white people. Really, I’m not. *sarcasm*
Some may think I’m out to get whites or that I’m a self-hater because I call white people out time and again…because I married a Latino…because I speak Spanish…because I prefer non-white friends or those in interracial relationships who get me, but I don’t have a problem with whites.
Actually, some of my best friends are white people (Yeah, see how awful that sounds in the reverse? Why do we use lines like these?). But there is a serious problem going on in the white community and I don’t want any part of it.
I was at the grocery store shopping the other day and the little old white lady ringing me up sounded friendly enough. “Your daughter is so cute,” she tells me. Then as my husband walks off to put our cart away, she gives me the eye and adds, “You’re not going to Mexico with him are you? You have to be careful you know? It’s too dangerous for that little girl. Don’t let him talk you into going.”
I stood there stunned for a minute wondering what she could possibly be talking about. Why did she think we were going to Mexico? The only obvious reason is my husband’s appearance as a Latino (read “Mexican”) man. So let me get this straight, because I’m with a Latino, he must be 1) Mexican, 2) Involved in some sort of drug-running, 3) Devoid of morals, since he’s willing to force us to apparently leave to the deadly nation of Mexico with him…oh and 4) Apparently I’m a brainwashed idiota who will follow him anywhere. Did I miss anything??
I appreciate that this woman had concern for me and my daughter, but it was completely misplaced. First off, I never mentioned anything about Mexico and my husband is a 5th generation Latino who probably has deeper roots in this country than esta mujer! So really, he’s not likely to even visit Mexico, let alone live there! Also, being “Mexican” or more correctly, Mexican American, isn’t an automatic marker for dangerous lifestyle. Was she worried because he’s brown? Or is it because I’m a pobrecita white girl desperately in need of saving?? Either way, I don’t want any part of it and I definitely don’t want to have to explain it to people and still be met with blank stares of disbelief.
This is just one example of well meaning white people getting it all wrong and I think the biggest reason why it keeps happening is because too many of us go unchecked. Who do we answer to really? We’re segregated from non-white communities and we keep breeding these unchecked misconceptions between each other. Misconceptions about all brown-skinned people being from Mexico, about Mexico being oh so dangerous, about white women and brown men.
On top of that, we have a kind of superiority in our community that affords whites the distorted perception that our opinions or observations are somehow more “right” than those of non-whites. There is a kind of dollar value on whiteness, a credibility…and my being with a Latino is like taking out a loan on my whiteness. My credit is in question…my opinion is “biased”…it’s possible that I’m just a little “brainwashed” or “confused”.
Hmmm…these assumptions seem just a little too convenient don’t they? And whites are left wagging their fingers in the faces of people of color as if their job is to “correct” their ideas and behaviors. It’s one convenience that we often take part in, much to the dismay of anyone in the room who isn’t white and I really think it does us such a huge disservice, because without being corrected, many of us are left to believe that our assumptions are accurate, even if they’re not.
A very dangerous position for a group that holds such enormous power over this country.
Image credit: Flickr/Old Shoe Woman
© 2012, Chantilly Patiño. All rights reserved.