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I wish I was White, Female and Privileged for One Day

By Kathy Henry
First of all, before I write this essay, I would like to state that I love being a black woman.  I love the beautiful brownness of my skin, my hair, which is a crown that has anointed me Queen of my universe, my full lips, slanted eyes, and the strength of my ancestors, who have dealt with much adversity during their journeys here to America and whose blood flows proudly in my veins.  But I have to admit, I wonder what it would be like to be a white female, just for a day, to see what it would be like to be considered Aphrodite rising from the sea, because at times it is hard being a black women in a society that is sexist and racist and has placed women who look like me on the fringe of every ladder in American society, from economics to beauty and beyond.White Privilege is a critical race theory I came across in college during an African American history class.  I had to read an article entitled, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh and it opened my mind to some concepts I had never thought about before.  According to the article, white privilege can be defined as unearned advantages enjoyed by white people beyond those commonly experienced by people of color in the same social, political, and economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.) because they are white.

White privilege is a topic some whites do not want to talk about because in admitting they are privileged, because of their skin color, they would be  admitting that racism still exists and is not a figment of black folks’ imaginations. But I digress.  It must be nice living in a world where almost every image of your kind is thought to be good and pure. I would like some of that privilege just for one day.

Just for once it would be nice to go to a job interview and not have to worry about the texture of my hair and wonder if the person I am interviewing with has a problem with afros, two-strand twists, or any other “black ethnic” hairstyles I might be wearing that day.  If I were a white woman, I could toss my silky, long hair around with no problems.

Just for once, it would be nice not to be labeled an angry, bitter, black female who is filled with hatred just because I happen to have an opinion different from the common consensus.  If I was a white woman, I could be uncompromisingly argumentative and be told that I am merely feisty.  Black men would swim through a river of snot for me and tell me that black women are just too combative to be considered “wifey” material and that is why 40% of African American females remain unmarried.  As a white woman, I would be able to date freely and not be told by my peers to lower my expectations of finding a man on my level or else die a lonely and miserable spinster with five kids with five different fathers.

Just for once, it would be nice to see someone who looks like me, on a regular basis, on the covers of high fashion magazines or  playing the role of the leading lady in movies and television shows. As a black woman, I am constantly scolded by the media and some of my people for being too dark, too nappy, and too fat and told that women who look like me will never be placed on that anointed pedestal as the standard of beauty and loveliness for American society.  If I were a white woman, this problem would be null and void because I would be considered the crème de la crème.

But alas, I am a black woman and that is nothing to shirk at.  The strength and tenacity of black women who can make something, literally, out of nothing is something to be admired rather than scorned, and I am proud to be one.  I actually feel sorry for white women sitting upon that fabled pedestal because it is a lonely tour of duty filled with unrealistic and shallow expectations and most fall swiftly and hard from that same pedestal.  Better to be me with all my flaws, real and imagined, than to be a paragon of impossible beauty and virtue. But I can keep it real; sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a white woman. In my world, black women are called everything but a child of God, and for once it would be nice to be the anointed one.

 

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7 Responses to I wish I was White, Female and Privileged for One Day

  1. Rene Reply

    August 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

    My wish I was black,female and that forever!!

    I hate my white male gender!!!

    My wish ,in my next life, I´m a black woman!!

  2. Native American girl Reply

    January 13, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I’m a Native American female that enjoys reading your blog occasionally. This particular writing has touched base with me & I wanted to comment. Thank you for writing this.

    I admit that I have the same thought at times. Just like you, I’m proud of my heritage & where I come from.

    There’s times I wonder how it feels to be oggled at, like white women. How would it feel if I picked up a magazine and saw ethnic women like us being admired for our gold/bronze/dark skin and hair, or how they describe how mesmerizing our rich almond/chocolate eyes are.

    I suppose it somewhat-hit a tender spot as I’ve noticed one thing about my boyfriend. All the female actresses and singers he likes are white. There’s not one ethnic celebrity on his list that he ‘reveres’ like he does the white women. I’ve subtly asked his opinion on ethnic actors and received a “they’re good actors”. Meanwhile, every time we watch a movie with an actress he likes, he can’t stop talking about her.

    I try not to let it bother me because he is always saying how beautiful I am & that he loves me. But for some reason I just can’t get over the fact that, if he really truly loved my attributes, wouldn’t he have gravitated towards ethnic stars as well?

    When we’re watching a movie that has a favorite actress of his, he’ll go on & on about how beautiful her porcelain skin looks with her dark brown hair, or blonde hair that is ‘golden’ like a deity. How beautiful the lighting falls on them. He literally reveres them, which sort-of makes me feel like I’m not up to par.

    I’m a grown woman, yet I feel like this might be a childish thing to focus on. I guess I should re-iterate what I was saying. I suppose I’d like to see my boyfriend gaze at my skin, my eyes, and hair in awe and describe me like he does those women for once…

    Is this suppose to be an issue in a relationship? Or am I just being childish? If it is a concern, should I bring it up to him?

    On a worst-case scenario, should I try finding a man who would actually see me as their definition of pure beauty?

    For a man who says he loves and adores my heritage, the
    color of my skin and my eyes, his ‘praises’ for these actresses combined with the fact that not one single one of them is ethnic is always in the back of my mind. If he prefers and likes light skin and green/blue eyes, if that is what he places on his personal pedestal, then why is he with a bronze-skinned, brown-eyed woman with raven-black hair?

    We do have a good relationship, it’s not as if we’re struggling or always arguing. Most often times, we agree on everything. We’ve been together for nearly two years and it seems to be very steady, at least from my viewpoint (except for this).

    Any and all thoughts are much appreciated.

  3. Mrs Bunny Johnson Reply

    January 17, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for this post Kathy. While I am proud to be a beautiful black woman I, too, have often wondered the same things. Just for one day….

    Native American Girl—
    Sounds like your boyfriend is simply reacting to what society has told him, and all the rest of us. That long blonde hair, big blue eyes, super skinny frame and large breasts are the standard of beauty. This has been drilled into us since birth.

    Society has been degrading women of color for centuries. Whats worse is that many of us believe the lies and stereotypes about our selves. I’m sure he loves you. Be confident! Be fierce! God don’t make junk!

  4. danni Reply

    June 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    i wish i was a white girl too.. i would love to enjoy getting a job with little to no credentials, a chance at getting a boyfriend, long flowing hair i can do myself and don’t have to pay someone to do or wonder why it won’t go despite all the effort i put in it, be given the benefit of the doubt, do what ever i want without it be attribute to my race..
    in the next life i want to be what ever race is the most powerful because i’m tired of being at the bottom of the totem pole in all countries for every goddamn thing

  5. The burbs Reply

    January 1, 2014 at 4:41 am

    To Dannie, that would be your races own fault. You all are violent, loud, entitled, self important, and obnoxious. Black women (and men) have no morals-5,6,7, or more illegitimate state-funded kids all by different thugs and thugetts. Most of you only know or care to know: stealing, thieving, lying, fighting, and laziness. The majority of you are clinically obese and Ebonics speaking uneducated PUBLIC high school dropouts being raised by grandma because you would rather do drugs, dance nasty, rap, sell drugs, play basketball, carjack, commit crimes, run from the “da pooohlice,” kill and murder, have unprotected sex with multiple people, eat way to much, let the government take care of you and your multiple bastards, give your kids stupid crazy names, wait in looooooong lines and fight for the newest Nike shoes, (Your race sure ain’t waitin’ in line for work boots are they?), blame “da white man,” and gladly participate in and cause violent flash-mobs and mayhem just to name a few. Your race would rather do all of the aforementioned activities than buckle down and stay in school and better yourselves. The lot of you are content to live in virtually fatherless, single mother rampant, free public Section 8 housing projects with your bastard spawn and receive government aid on everything from food, to heat, to Obama phones, to medical. Is there anything your race actually pays for? I can’t blame most successful law abiding intelligent black men for wanting NOTHING to do with the lot of you and dating and marrying equally intelligent, pretty, SLIM, “silky haired,” white women. Black people are the main reason I live in the burbs, sent my children to expensive private schools, and have a concealed carry license for my gun that I would not hesitate to use on one of your violent thugs. That being said, I guess you can continue to blame all the self-made problems in the black race on white women and their smooth “silky hair.”

  6. The burbs Reply

    January 1, 2014 at 6:27 am

    PS That should read “raised” by grandma. Furthermore, I forgot to mention all the thugs and their multiple baby mamas and whores who gangbang 24/7. That seems to be an extremely popular pastime in “da hood.” Have fun in the free cheese line.

  7. Jennifer Reply

    April 19, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    The Burbs,
    You are a racist idiot and that is a fact! I am Caucasian and you offended me. Go away!

    Kathy,
    I love your article and it has opened up my eyes to the way African American’s are treated and sometimes how they feel. I am the type of person who prefers not to see color.
    As a white lady, I have put myself in your shoes. You are correct. The majority of magazine covers are of white women or men. This is something I was oblivious to until I read your blog. Slowly, America is getting there though but I wished it were more equal.
    I will be honest. Sometimes I would like to be black for one day or one week. People of color are so much more friendly to each other than white people (are to each other). Black people have more family, friends, etc. There is just this sisterhood or brotherhood that is present and seems to feel so good. Of course, I’m on the outside looking in. White people are more cruel to each other, snobby (talk behind each others backs) etc. It’s so hard to know who you can trust. I don’t know this for a fact but it is just how it seems.
    Ha, I am not crazy about my hair. I pull it back most of the time just so I don’t have to deal with it. Makeup, now that’s a different story. I love my mascara and eyeliner. I am by no means skinny. I’m not obese but thick. I hate my body and want to be thin!
    I don’t know why I’m saying all this. I guess I’m just trying to say being white is not all that is cracked up to be.
    Hey, black is beautiful and I know you’re proud of your roots and you should be (as I am mine). I guess all races have their pro’s and con’s.

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