I feel no fear. We are able to enjoy an afternoon walk without looking over our shoulders apart from watching for the occasional coyote. This is partly because of our privilege to live where we do in a safe town, but because we also blend in rather well. In many ways we look a lot like everyone else.
I’ve lived quite a few places in my life, and loved them all in their own way. But in some areas I stood out from the crowd. I knew that if I went out alone I would draw attention. Sometimes it came in the form of whistles, being grabbed, having things thrown at me, or even being directly attacked. I was always on alert and it took me years being back “home” to relax a bit when out and about. I faced coworkers who resented my presence in their country. The friends around me at the time had an idea what it was like for me, but they never fully understood. Some even dismissed my experiences because it didn’t fit with their own view of the world.
I don’t know what it feels like to be a minority in my own country. I don’t know what it feels like for this to last my whole life. I don’t know what it feels like to be constantly vilified. I can’t imagine the pain of feeling like I don’t belong where I was born and raised. But what I can do is believe the experiences of those around me.
I hope someday that our leisurely afternoon walk is an experience shared by many. Minus the coyotes.
*In general I don’t think conversations about race should be centered around white women (like me) but as you are all my friends, I hope that my experience and thoughts touch you in a different way.