Monday, March 11, 2013

On a Previous Note.

I feel like I'm always talking about this.  Like people are rolling their eyes and saying, this again?  I feel like I'm boring.  It's embarrassing.

I almost deleted this, like, five times.


I'm still thinking a lot about my face.

Because I remember a girl in a shoe store checking off boxes for my demographic information, and she didn't even bother to ask, I was so obviously white.

Because I remember being told that I wasn't white, not at all, no way.  I look so Asian.

Because I spent a lot of time, growing up, with people asking me the question.

Because it's been years since I've heard it.

Because in college everyone confused me with my best friend, who is white.  (I mean, seriously, they were surprised that they didn't have that conversation with me last night.)

Because in Iowa people confuse me with a friend from the Philippines.

Because people have told me throughout my life, with certainty, that I look totally white.  And people have told me throughout my life, with certainty, that I don't.

I don't know.  I can't see it.  All I see is my face.  And I don't know what it means.  But I feel stupid talking about it, because it seems so obvious to everyone else. 


So much conversation about being a person of color centers around privilege, and I think that most of the time I'm on the privileged end of things.  Because either people see me as Unidentified White Person, or as The Good Kind of Foreigner.  And so, while there are still harmful stereotypes and attitudes to confront, I am the recipient of many of the benefits that go along with white privilege.

And because I'm this kind of not-white, I don't have the same daily reminders of my otherness that many people of color get.  No one tries to touch my hair, or tell me how to wear it.  No one assumes that I'm a prostitute.  No one assumes that I'm stealing, or in the country illegally.  So in conversations about race, I am often speaking from the White Side of Things.  I have gotten very used to speaking from the White Side of Things. 

And so I start to think of myself as being, in practice, entirely white. 


This isn't about my history or perceptions. I'm just trying to figure out my face.


Diatryma said...

So you know, if it bugs you that I tell the story that I got you and Jei mixed up in the beginning, I will stop mentioning it.

Angela said...

Thanks for offering. It doesn't bother me. It's not an "all Asians look alike," story, it's an "there are TWO round women with Asian faces and BLUE hair story." I think the story is funny.

It is only another piece of data that matches some pieces, and conflicts with others, and so is part of a whole that I'm trying to understand.