Last Saturday my gal pal took me to see Drake and Future on the Summer Sixteen Tour. Like any millennial I dig the spit games of Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Eazy-E, Wu-Tang, Eminem, Snoop, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and the Notorious B.I.G. but I tend to steer clear of today’s hip hop and rap.
All I really knew about Drake before going to his concert was that he played Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi and raps about hotline bling. Still, I am always open to new experiences so I graciously accepted the generous offer from my friend.
Mere seconds after walking in to the concert venue I felt utterly and hopelessly out of place. It was one of the few times in my life during which I, a white person, accounted for the minority race among a large group of people.
As a Jew, even a mostly non-practicing one, I am no stranger to representing an unpopular subgroup. As a woman, I am no stranger to feeling discriminated against for a variable completely out of my control. But as a white person, I am a complete stranger to feeling unpleasant and uneasy on account of functioning among a culture or race that is different than my own.
This is not a blog about white privilege. It is not a blog about whether white privilege does or does not exist, whether it does or does not negatively impact the lives of minority groups and whether it does or does not constitute a form of institutional racism (but it does, and it does, and it does).
This is a blog about how it felt to be surrounded by cultures that are foreign to me, by races that I mostly only associate with in my professional life as a social worker. I felt supremely self-conscious on account of my race, my clothes and the way I speak. I felt raw and almost intolerably exposed to potentially harsh, ignorant and superficial judgments from different racial groups and cultures. Do not mistake my account for a complaint. I simply mean to demonstrate the injustice that is consistently inflicted upon minority cultures in America.
For a measly five hours of one evening in my almost 30 years on Earth I felt apprehensive, restless and misunderstood because of the color of my skin. Yet I knew when the night was over I would return to Denver’s Golden Triangle neighborhood, an area of town where in almost three years I have seen as many black men as I can count on one hand (and I do not have any extra fingers). The weight of this realization is painfully heavy.
I humbly cannot imagine what it must feel like to be a minority operating in the majority culture on a daily basis. I can only assume white ignorance of and intolerance for cultural and racial differences is excruciatingly frustrating, even heartbreaking. I admire the bravery, the resilience and the energy of our country’s disenfranchised. It takes sheer courage for these populations to live in such a foreign, disrespectful and unforgiving world.
Maybe this is my privilege talking but I hold hope that more of life unites us than divides us—friendship and romance, suffering and joy, love and loss, passion and justice and of course, Drake.
Even though I wrote about white privilege in this blog, this is not a blog about white privilege.