Monday, February 11, 2008

Color Theory.

Today I had a break in between classes so I decided to get a little work done.  I found a big comfy leather couch in the lobby of the Ferguson building (my old building for when I was a Deaf Ed major...weird).  Anyways, I was sitting there for about 20 minutes working on an outline, when a guy sat down across from me and asked how I was.  I said, "I'm pretty good thanks" and kept working.  He told me about how he was here for a meeting with some professors in the Communication Studies Graduate Department.  He's graduating from A&T (another university in Greensboro) and hopes to be accepted into the Grad program here at UNCG.  Then, he pulled out a tape recorder and asked me if he could ask me a few questions..for his thesis, he had to interview people.  I told him that was fine - and he said that I could take as long as I needed with answering his questions.  He turned on the recorder, and asked me to state my name and what race I identify with.  I said, "My name is Kristen Smith and I would label myself as caucasian".  His next question really took me by surprise.  He said, "What does being caucasian mean to you?"  I was absolutely stunned.  I honestly had no answer for him.  I think I said something along the lines of, "well, I try to not to live by any labels, so I normally don't think about my race or let it affect any decisions that I make" ... I probably babbled for a minute about how race is just the color of our skin (or is our "race" the "Human Race" ???) I got all confused, and then felt like I was answering wrong, so I finished up with a quick "Heh-Heh" and gritted my teeth.  

What does being caucasian mean to me?  Well, I have no idea what it means to me.  It means that I've never really been discriminated against (I think?)  It means that my skin is lighter which means I burn very easily in the sun.  That's about all that I can think of - because it doesn't really mean that much to me.  Race is such a social construction... something created to oppress some and raise others up.  I was thinking... what it means for me to be "white" isn't much - because "white" is not my heritage or nationality.  However, for African Americans, for them to be "black" means A LOT to most of them (I would suppose) because they think of the struggles and injustices that have been imposed on them for centuries.  The inferiority that has been shoved down their throats.  To be honest, maybe I am not "proud" to be white because there is not anything to be "proud" of.  I can be proud of my Irish and Scottish heritage, but not of being "white" because that really means nothing to me.

It's all very confusing and hard to juggle in my mind.  But, I'm glad that I ran into that guy.  I hope he gets into the grad program here, and I appreciate the fact that he made me think about something I've never thought about before.


Emmers said...

I completely understand where you are coming from. I never think of my self as "white" even tho I am... I mean, I am not REALLY white, more tannish than anything else... I am proud to be Scottish - and hey, apparently I am also Moorish (1/100th?!) - and those genes are strong and you can see them in my dad's dark hair and eyes (no Scots have both dark hair and eyes), and the fact that I my blood type is B+ (more common in people of African descent). I love being a big mix, even if more of my Scottish shows through then anything else.

koster said...

i'll come out and say hi!
i'm erin/speedy (i know em from camp, and i'm crumb's sister) thats how i found your blog.

interesting question? because in my US immigration class the last few weeks we have been talking about race and immigration history. and how big of an impact race had on immigration and what exactly does it mean to be American (even more interesting as an American in a class of Irish students) but a lot of our discussion has dealt with the issue of 'whiteness'. it is such a complex topic and issue but really interesting to think about.