Most of the writing assignments have been fun prompts, a few more challenging than others. But today’s–I just can’t.
College application time. Explain in one paragraph why you want to attend a historical black college.
I don’t want to write about how this will make me understand the complexities of being a person of color in the United States. Because it won’t. I have been judged on the basis of my sex, my economic upbringing and because I came from a single parent household. But the fact remains that the color of my skin grants me staggering privilege in this society on a daily basis that is not offered to those who aren’t perceived as white.
My first glimpse of this disparity was in graduate school. My roommate, G. was a beautiful, fashion conscious person of color whose parents were from Trinidad. G’s mother had worked for the consulate at the United Nations, and G. had gone to school with the Shriver/Kennedy children. She was well spoken and very intelligent. On the other hand, at the time I had punk inspired bright red hair cut short, came from a solid working class household in New Jersey and generally wore second-hand clothes from Canal Street Jeans in NYC with Doc Martens.
We were at a suburban mall in New Jersey, looking at jewelry in a department store. I wandered off to look at shoes and turned around to see a store security guard approach G and speak to her briefly and walk away. However, he continued to shadow her as she looked at bracelets and necklaces. Not once did anyone approach me or follow me, but they continued to target her as she browsed items.
Afterwards, I talked to her about the incident. “Oh that happens all the time”, she stated as we drove back to our graduate house, “They just assume because I’m black, that I’m going to shoplift something”. Here was a woman who could have easily bought anything in the store, and because she was black, they assumed she was going to steal items.
So, no I won’t write that paragraph. It’s not my place and I will never know how it feels to be judged by the color of my skin on my trustworthiness or worth in society. Reverse discrimination is a huge lie; the problems in our country are much deeper than that and to think otherwise is misguided.