When I was at school, my friends and I went through a phase of demanding, “Is it ‘cuz I’m brown?” in answer to most questions.
At the time it seemed funny; it felt powerful and comic to disarm people. But looking back, there’s probably something there worth unpacking.
At that point in my life, in the late noughties, I was the most entrenched in white privilege that I’d ever been – and totally unaware that some of my experiences were indeed a result of being brown. At my mostly-white private school, I didn’t give a second’s thought to the things that were happening to people less privileged than me as a result of their non-whiteness, nor even to those who were darker skinned than me and discriminated against within the school. I thought of my race as a card to play. The illustrious race card.
The reasons for this, I now realise, were probably internalised racism – the fact that I hadn’t yet recognised or attributed any setbacks to not being white, certainly, but also the unconscious fear of being perceived as an angry Black girl.
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