I am tempted to use my whiteness as a weapon.
Why? Because I know it would probably work. Why not? Because it’s contrary to my beliefs, undercuts people who aren’t white, and buys into and reinforces white privilege.
I could weaponize my white privilege in a current situation that actually is of great import to me. The powers that be don’t know I’m white but if they did, their responses would be different, more energetic, more conscious and accommodating. If I was in the room when they realized that I’m white, I’d see the shift on their faces. I guarantee it. Being white is worth a dozen lawyers.
Years ago, one of my teenage Nicaraguan sons was in a car accident on the freeway. He and his friends were safe but the owner of the other car, a white man, was pounding on the hood of my son’s car, screaming about how he’d cut him off and caused an accident. Sheriff’s deputies were there trying to sort things out. Everyone in my son’s car was brown or black. The other car had a single white man driving.
My son texted me. “You or Dad need to get down here.”
I asked where he was. On the shoulder of our city’s main freeway. I asked if anyone was hurt. No one was hurt.
“The guy is banging on the hood and the cops are just standing there.”
I called my husband. “You need to get down there,” I told him. He responded by telling me how hard it was to just pull up on the shoulder of the freeway in the middle of rush hour traffic. The cops were already there, they’d figure it all out. No one was hurt. No one was drinking. It was a lane change accident. No big deal.
“You need to go there and show them he has white parents.” I said that. I did.
I figured it would change everything if my white, distinguished-looking husband showed up in his suit and tie. This brown young man here, the one whose car you’re pounding on, well, he has people. He has white people. I can’t even fathom thinking this but I still think it.
The current situation, itself involving brown people, would change if we could interject our whiteness. But how is this a right thing to do? What it’s saying is that people in authority can minimize and marginalize a problem until the white folks show up and then they’d better sit up straight, pay attention, suddenly realize that, yes, there are probably solutions that haven’t been tried.
I don’t have to do anything with my whiteness. I just have to wear it.
It is such a strange thing to realize. My whiteness has automaticity, defined by dictionary.com as:
1. having the capability of starting, operating, moving, etc., independently;
2. physiology, occurring independently of volition, as certain muscular actions; involuntary;
3. done unconsciously or from force of habit; mechanical;
4. occurring spontaneously;
5. (of a firearm, pistol, etc.,) utilizing the recoil or part of the force of the explosive to eject the spent cartridge shell, introduce a new cartridge, cock the arm, and fire it repeatedly.
I can’t be part of that. I am part of that. I can’t be part of that. I am part of that.