Reflecting on the years as they have marched on I am continually reminded of all of the unexpected twists and turns that have occurred in my life leading up to where I sit today.
I grew up in a white family, living in a white neighborhood, in a white part of the city and only heard negative comments about people of color from all the adults in my life.
My first interactions with POC were when I attended high school and I had no idea how to interact with them. They dressed differently, they talked differently, they seemed to possess a sort of power and resignation at the same time concerning their place in society which I could not understand.
I was clueless in a new world until I met my first girlfriend who happened to be african american. I had never experienced racism against myself until our relationship became known.
I meandered through life accomplishing most of what I set out to, never really coming to terms with the fact that my success was in large part due to my white privilege. Sure, I came across POC in my profession from time to time and various creatives over the years, but never had an enduring friendship with anyone of color. Still clueless.
When I finally met Annie everything changed. She overpowered me with her beauty and personality and once again I had to learn how to deal with racism and virulent hate over our relationship because not only was she a person of color, she was transgender. That combination attracted the most hateful people I have ever come across and universally they were all white people.
When Annie died, it ripped out my heart. I had no tools to to work with that could lessen my despair and grief over losing her. By the time she passed, I had pushed away most everyone from my life, because I simply could not deal with their feelings of animosity towards her. How could I possibly accept anyone’s friendship if they were not willing to extend the same to Annie? Now, without her, I was alone in my mind and no one was worth my trust.
This is how it went for over twelve years and I was never remorseful over pushing everyone away. My mental health was always in question over those years, and yet I was unwilling to let anyone in. I took an oath to myself that I would never allow myself to become involved with another person. I could not envision any scenario where I would find another person who would ever be able to gain my trust, and this became even more evident as the world further devolved into hate and discrimination.
Over the years, I met many people, some nice and some not so much, yet all were kept at arms length. No one was allowed into my inner sanctum where my thoughts and fears lived together.
Last year I met someone who finally was able to penetrate my silence. I never expected to meet anyone again that would be worthy of my confidence, nor was I looking for anyone. My solitude of thought and feelings had been my safe place for so many years. And yet, there she was. Out of the blue, another person of color who would gain my trust and exert her power, to allow me to see what I refused to see.
The stories she reveals of her life, reinforces all of my thoughts over the years concerning these three women of color who have influenced my life. Why is it that simply receiving a new picture from her makes my heart skip a beat? Why is it that all three of them have some sort of super power over my thoughts and emotions? Why do I feel complete comfort and serenity in the presence of women of color ,whether they are cis or not? Why can’t anyone answer that simple question for me?
Over the years, there have been countless murders of POC in this country and in particular the murder of transgender women of color has particularly infuriated me.
The shootings this week in Atlanta, murdering six asian women of color by a white man for hateful reasons brings me to a final conclusion.
I despise my white privilege. My white privilege has allowed me to walk unharmed through life, while POC continue to suffer at the whim of white people. I do not have any resolution for the rest of the hateful world. All I can do is try and be the best person I can be.
In the end, now that I am an official old person, I embrace the super powers that certain women of color hold over me. Without them, I would not be the person I am today. Most likely, I will never again have a relationship with a woman of color, and while that thought saddens me to no end, I will never fall back upon my white privilege in order to have a relationship with anyone who also benefits from white privilege.
I refuse to allow my whiteness to define me.