Found myself wasting time today trying to convince a friend that there was a difference in perception between his view of the world and mine and that not only was it logical to have different views, but that it was normal.
He argued that as a white man, he was much more persecuted than I as a “single, minority mom.” He was afraid to mention race, because he “doesn’t see it.”
After about ten to fifteen minutes of wasting my breath, I realized that I was arguing the validity of my view to someone who didn’t see every commercial has a white face, or hand, or foot. Who never noticed all the white faces in magazine and newsprint ads. Who never saw all the men in engineering and sciences. These were things he just thought were normal and never felt a need to question. He argued that commercials did now include non white faces and women, like the “Old Spice” guy or that “there was that Cadillac run with Tiger Woods.” And don’t forget the woman in the Xerox commercials. “She’s obviously not white. She’s even pretty.”
It’s hard to realize sometimes that we can have friends who simply can never understand who we are and what we tolerate on a daily basis. How some days, the “white wash” is just too much to suffer and yet, we do because to say something confuses and upsets our white friends who we value even though they say they want to sympathize but still wish to argue the validity of our perception.
I’m thankful I have some white friends who can understand some part of what it is like to not be white and/or male in this country. It makes me happy to know there are some feelings and perceptions that truly are universal. But I also am now understanding why I’ve lost so many friends growing up. The gulf between our perceptions just became too great to bridge without forcing one if not both of us to accept a new perception or change our perception entirely.
As far as my friend today, I hate to say it but I feel that eventually we may grow apart as well. I just am not currently capable of seeing my life through the eyes of a persecuted white man any more than he is currently able to see his life through the eyes of an educated woman of color.