I can walk in any wealthy part of any city and be invisible. I can walk down parkways lined with million dollar homes and nobody will blink. I can stop to admire a car and no one will suspect me of thinking of stealing it.
I can walk in any wealthy part of any city with a camera on my shoulder and no one will call the cops on me or accuse of “casing the joint” for a future B&E.
I can drive a battered old pick up with a busted tail light 50 miles a day for three months on Interstate and city streets before a single cop will give me a second look.
If I get thirsty and my water bottle is dry, I can stop at any food stop, walk in fill up my bottle and leave and no one will say a thing.
In America, because I am white and male I can be invisible or visible as I wish to other white folk. Among other white folk, I blend in. Like swiss cheese and provolone. I can walk into a downtown store and buy a shirt, then turn to the salesperson and tell them I’d like to write a local check. Twice now in recent months I’ve said: “oh sorry, I forgot my wallet,” only to have them say: “oh that’s ok we trust you.”
I could, if I wanted badly enough, rent a van, some common furniture moving equipment, three white uniforms and two buddies, and go strip the local mall of its interior furnishings. We are White men. We are clean shaven. Our speech shows we are educated, that we have confidence and move with natural authority because after all us White men are naturally superior to all other human beings – right? Isn’t that what we are told to believe and trust as right and true?
Isn’t that how white supremacy works. The ideology becomes saturated within our cultural institutions – all those that create and support what we loosely call “American culture,” and its top to bottom all the rot in government, law and the legal system, our banking and financial systems, education, the military, politics politics and politics, and of course Christianity of a certain loathsome kind and Capitalism which enriches the few while spreading the cost of profits upon the many. And of course normalizing Whiteness to the point that none of us white folk even see it anymore – even though we are swimming within it.
Ever since I’ve been a speck in my daddy’s eye I’ve been brought up, taught, inundated and steadily bombarded with the belief that there is nothing special about me or my race and at the same time that the only thing really special about me – that favors me over many others – over many more qualified and at least as deserving as myself – is my whiteness and the superiority of whiteness over blackness or brownness or yellowness or redness and most assuredly my maleness always “trumps” femaleness.
White guys rule and rich white guys really rule. Because “God said so,” we are told and then we are told that God is a rich white dude too.
Transgender folks are often scared to death of using their gender identity bathroom and I get that. I hate to use public bathrooms as well and truth be told its mostly because my brain has set in stone the word “Men” and “penis,” otherwise I don’t know which door I’d go through – not because I am pushing boundaries but more simply because the differences seem so contrived and trivial.
As a white man I am free to park the car an run into any gas station, fast food joint, or eatery, walk straight to the bathroom use it, then leave – maybe filling up my water bottle on the way out and I dare say based on trial and evidence no one has sent me a second glance yet. And I am pretty sure that’s not because I am dressed as a rich man might with expensive watch, and costly accessories to the simple yet pricey Southwestern gentleman look. I don’t look like I’m rolling in dough and I don’t have a watch but I can ask anyone I meet what time it is and they will tell me and not think that I am out of place – that I don’t belong.
I can walk at night and not be profiled or stopped and frisked. I can drive an old car down a side street, blasting the Allman Brothers band, while smoking a bowl of Colorado Indica and not worry about being pulled over by the cops….and certainly I am free of worry that should I be pulled over my life might also be over!
HELL NO! I am old and white and I look like a guy, I have money in my pocket, and I act as though I am totally normal and at home and thus I enjoy a place within the better and more refined institutions further insulated from “those people,” like my partner who as an Asian- American of course speaks “English so well” because she was raised in Chicago, but who ever asks, “oh and do you speak Japanese as well as English?” No one.
As I shared with others participating in our local Dharma center’s class on white supremacy, that as a white guy, I get a pass.