The Private Conversations of White People

It is often disturbing to me how being ‘white’ means that I get to overhear the racist remarks that so many people make. They say the most amazing things and then look at me, or Mark and I, for confirmation of their opinion and we just sit there, squirming. I find it absolutely amazing that by virtue of being Caucasian I am included in this weird club where people just assume I believe that I am smarter, more competent, better looking and just…better…than anyone from any other culture. Most of the time I don’t say anything because it has been my experience that I can’t convince these people of anything different. I just squirm until the subject changes or I can graciously leave. If it gets really bad, I just leave, graciously or not.

A few days ago Mark and I were visiting some friends who had out of town guests. Now, for some reason I thought that Northerners were less racist than Southerners. Wrong. These folks went from talking about how shocking it was for them to see so many Black people in Nashville and how it gave them the creeps, (as in, WTF are they *doing* there?), to a rather long-winded complaint about how the useless Mexicans are coming in and robbing honest Americans of their jobs. I did manage to point out that black people both play and enjoy music and that Mexicans tend to work harder for lower wages than their lazy, fat American counterparts but had to stop there. Nothing was sinking in in the guy’s mind except my betrayal of my race. I could read it on his face.

I have a friend whom I refer to as My Bigot Friend. I love her but she is the most racist person I know. It’s awful to listen to her when she goes off on the topic. Once I told her that it made me really sad that she had to make her own low self-esteem grow by belittling other races of people who were just as smart, strong and competent as she is. We didn’t speak again for months.

Several years ago I had a drinking buddy from New Zealand. Her name was Tina, too, and she looked like Pocahontas. She was half Maori and by virtue of that, a ‘nigger’ in NZ. She was absolutely stricken to hear the conversations of white people here–because in the US, she is white. She was flabbergasted by the things people said and the things they believed about other races.

Most of these people consider themselves to be Good Christian folk and even I have to agree that they are typical of American whites, in my experience. It makes me mad. It makes me sad and I don’t know what to do about it. I do know that it’s time for White people to wake the hell up and get over themselves. We do not better ourselves or our culture by insisting on being stuck in a pattern of behavior that should have passed on a generation or more ago. Racism is no longer socially acceptable. It is not cool or smart or right. It is stupid.


About Bettina Colonna Essert

Illuminated Magdalene High Priestess and facilitator of empowerment and healing circles for girls and women, including a monthly Red Tent Temple. BA in English, minor in anthropology. Waldorf homeschool mom. Reiki master, cranial sacral therapist, herbalist, menstruvist, feminist, epicurian.
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