Before we get into what white people have said to me, dear reader, I want to let you know that I don’t believe all white people are racist. I don’t even believe the people who told me these outlandish things are racist. However, I believe they might have some racist beliefs (even if they think they don’t), because they just don’t see it, and it might even be hard for them to accept that they could have these kinds of thoughts or behaviors. It is hard for all of us, so because of this I decided to write this article.
The first thing you should know is that I am a brown, queer woman living in China. I am also part of an international community that involves people from all over the world, and I mean it. I know people from small islands like Mauritius, the very hard-to-find people of Monaco, the very friendly Thai people, and I even work with someone from Sumatra. Finally, we have super common Americans, English, and Canadians. I have also traveled a bit; from the cold of Canada to the sunshine at Mount Everest camp. Furthermore, I have seen more things than average people probably have, and I am aware of that privilege. Privilege aside, I am also aware that I have to work hard to do all these things and get to know all of these different kinds of people.
You can imagine that in my almost 12 years of living outside my home country, I have heard some most interesting things, and I can say now that the most shocking in times, funny in others, or plain outrageous, came from White Caucasian people.
So here are the 5 most shocking things white people told me!
Number 1: Is Mexico a Country?
This was the first white comment I got. I can’t say this person is racist – we are very good friends to this day – but it was for sure not their most brilliant moment. I did have a bit of fun later on by pointing out how Canada is full of hippies. Yes, this came from a Canadian!
Number 2: You are just in the office talking in Spanish!
This was one day, a few years ago, when I was talking over the phone with my mother, which I do every day. Apparently, my former co-worker and business partner was not too happy that I was next to him (my actual working desk) speaking for too long in Spanish with my mother, and he thought raising the volume of his music and then saying that to me was the right way to go. Did I mention they are from Germany?
Number 3: You are not speaking correct Spanish.
I can’t remember the exact quote, but I do remember meeting this person at a friendly gathering in my best friend’s home. A person with a master’s degree in Spanish, after finding out I am from Mexico, started to talk to me in Spanish and decided that the way I spoke was not the correct way to speak Spanish. I suppose they saw no wrong in commenting on my own language and probably culture. Did you guess where are they from? IF you said the USA, you guessed right!
Number 4: I have never met an educated Mexican before.
Were we all at a party drinking? Yes! Did this person just say this to my face in the middle of it? Yes as well. Did we just meet? Also yes. Is this person from the US? Yes, too. They did apologize after. (But not of their own accord, a mutual friend reached out to give them a chance to make good.)
Number 5: The most successful empire has been the British Empire.
I cannot exactly remember how the topic came up, but they (a person from Australia) told me this right in the middle of my engagement party (You read it right!). I am, to this day, unsure of why they think that being a “successful empire” is positive. The “fun” part for me is that right at the moment this person said it, another friend from South Africa (British Colony until 1961) walked by and heard the statement, and they said “not all colonies were successful”, I saw my chance to be sassy, and I replied “Only the white ones!” as we shook hands in a goodbye, my South African friend closed by saying “always the white ones”. The Australian and I have not spoken since then.
And these are the most “white” comments I’ve ever gotten, I also have more, but I might reserve them for another time.
Have you experienced something like that?