I am white. I am homeless, right now, for the first time ever. This period in my life is the most I have ever spent around other cultures of people.. Before this time, my anxiety often caused me to be a recluse, to some degree, but I still did normal shit, I wasn’t agoraphobic or anything.
As a white man, I really did not think there were times when I felt racism could impact me and this month has been a big shift in perspective for me on that. A great example; the other day, I was in the library, doing what I am doing now, blogging, on the public computer, when a group of young black men came around to bug this younger black gentleman playing the popular game ‘Minecraft’. As they are bugging him, the one guy states “Why is your guy’s skin white?” I look at the teenage kid for a moment, our eyes meet and while looking at me, he says “Yo, change that skin colour, white is no good.” The teenage kid states this 3-4 more times, while looking at me.. I have never felt so.. Berated before.
While attending my first community meal, the experience I make mention of in the second chapter of my poetry, titled Watcher, I walked into the church and to my amazement, found that I was the only white person in the entire building, of maybe 50-60 people, all crammed into this small room. The lady who ran the place assumed I was a volunteer, ironically asking me if my name was ‘Jason’, as she was waiting on some no-show volunteer with that name (My name is not Jason). Once sitting down, it was pretty evident that my presence in this capacity was.. Alarming, to some. Being a room almost fully dominated by people of Native origin, I felt extremely out of place and as I went up into the food line, heard several people discussing, quite loudly to each other, the reason “He” is here. Braving my social anxiety, I attempted to talk to a couple of individuals, but nobody really responded and I felt they did not respond, in fear of being alienated by the others who did not want me there. Particularly, the individuals who did not want me there, were clearly associated with a gang, who all piled out of a small mini-van outside as I was approaching the church, the van seating 6 at most, there was like 10 of them in there, it was ridiculous.. If they had wanted to start a problem, they would of done it outside of the church, so I knew I was safe inside, but I also knew I had to either take my food outside or risk being caught in the flow of these guys going outside, which would be a bad situation. Nothing like that happened, but it sure felt like something like that was going to happen.
These instances of perceived racism, because I am white, have seemingly been few and far between, but still there. I guess, maybe I thought I was immune to it? I do not really know why I am that surprised, I guess because I have just never experienced it before, but I find every time it happens, I am very outnumbered and retorting in anyway just in general seems to be a very bad idea.. Keep in mind, I am a care-giver for people with disabilities, keeping a clean criminal record is a top priority of mine and starting some fight over some stupid comment is not on my to-do list.
To the merit of the people at the church, the next time I went, today, that van of people must of already been gone or had not shown up, because they were not there and the Native people there were all very kind and I even introduced myself to two of them. Being an outsider is very strange, very alien for me. Is being accepted everywhere we go a privilege? Hard question to pose, when all the hatred and insecurity that fuels the alienation seems to be fading, if not slowly, but the ideas of racism still exist.. Probably always will. Killing an idea is very hard. Look at Fascism, an idea Hitler started quite a few years back, it is not dead. Might be dying out, might be dwindling, but it is far from dead. Killing a man, that is very easy, but killing an idea is near impossible, it seems. A bomb that kills a mass of people, that is scary, but a bomb that could kill ideas, that is scary as fuck.