the waaaambulance race
or Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist/Sexist
This is me.
I am white, male, 30 years old, born and raised overseas. For better or worse, I’ve been a victim of racial and sexual discrimination my whole life.
In China, 1990s, old people call us “gwai lo” (white devils) and spit as we pass, while young people cluster around us because it’s cool to have a white friend. University students throw “American” parties where guests come as rednecks, rock stars, and other white racial stereotypes.
In Pakistan, 2000s, young men glare knives at us from their dark eyes, call us “bahan chodh” (sister fuckers) to our faces, and become spontaneously violent with the “foreigners” at sporting events with little provocation. I eventually have to leave the country because of the danger to white people of mob lynchings and beheadings.
In Mexico, 2010s, half the country resents and despises the color white, and half the country is enamored of it. No one is color blind. Both criminals and law enforcement categorically substitute economic profiling for racial profiling to target us for mugging, kidnapping, and extortion. The racial slur “gringo” (the g word) is thrown around playfully and haphazardly with connotations of stupid and origins as a chant that literally calls for all white people to leave the country immediately. (In Mexico’s defense, they are slightly behind most developed countries in the moral prejudice arc of the universe: African descendants are still commonly referred to as Little Negroes and conjoined twins as Siamese.)
In the sexist arena, in all of those countries, unattractive women shower us with unwanted attention, catcalling under their breath as they pass us, undressing us with pornographic eyes, and grabbing at our bodies in dimly-lit or crowded environments or whenever given the flimsiest excuse. Attractive and insecure women insult us as a way to capture our interest.
People mock us, celebrate us, maim us, smooch us, cheat us, lavish us, fancy us, shun us, include us, exclude us, all because of the color of our skin or the symmetry of our faces and bodies.
We have to choose words and actions carefully because people are constantly measuring us against the image in their heads of the ugly/awesome American or the tall, handsome, and douchebag stranger.
To me, all of this has always just been the ups and downs of real life, unsheltered and sometimes scathing in the vast, loveless wildernesses of Earth 2.0 – where everyone wants something and bases the way they treat you on how likely you are to provide them with it. If you’re rich, everyone wants to steal from you. If you’re sexy, everyone wants to fuck you. If you’re smart… no one gives a shit. If you’re white or black or green, some people kiss you for it and some people kill you for it. It all depends on where you are and who’s in charge there. The world is a big, small, mean place.
It was only when I became more familiar with the haughty posturing of privileged postmodern pop culture that I realized you were allowed to whine about it.