Kathy Henry: “I Wonder What It’d Be Like to Be a White Woman, Just for a Day.”

Kathy Henry, The Black Feminista

First of all, I would like to state that I love being a black woman. I love the beautiful brownness of my skin, my hair which is a crown that has anointed me Queen of my universe, my full lips, slanted eyes, and the strength of my ancestors who have dealt with much adversity during their journeys here to America and whose blood flow proudly in my veins. But I have to admit, I wonder what it would be like to be a white female just for a day to see what it would be like to be considered Aphrodite rising from the sea, because at times it is hard being a black women in a society that is sexist and has placed women who look like me on the fringe of every ladder in American society, from economics to beauty and beyond.

White Privilege is a critical race theory I came across in college during an African American history class. I had to read an article entitled, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh and it opened my mind to some concepts I had never thought about before. According to the article, white privilege can be defined as unearned advantages enjoyed by white people beyond those commonly experienced by people of color in the same social, political, and economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.), because they are white.

White privilege is a topic some whites do not want to talk about because in admitting they are privileged due to skin color would mean admitting that racism still exists and is not a figment of black folks’ imaginations. But I digress. It must be nice living in a world where almost every image of your kind is thought to be good and pure and I would like some of that privilege just for one day.

Just for once it would be nice to go to a job interview and not have to worry about the texture of my hair and wonder if the person I am interviewing with has a problem with afros, two-strand twists, or any other “black ethnic” hairstyles I might be wearing that day. If I were a white woman, I could toss my silky, long hair around with no problems.

Just for once, it would be nice not to be labeled an angry, bitter, black female who is filled with hatred just because I happen to have an opinion different from the common consensus. If I was a white woman, I could be uncompromisingly argumentative and be told that I am merely feisty. Black men would swim through a river of snot for me and tell me that black women are just too combative to be considered “wifey” material and that is why 40% of African American females remain unmarried. As a white woman, I would be able to date freely and not be told by my peers to lower my expectations of finding a man on my level or else die a lonely and miserable spinster with five kids with five different fathers.

Just for once, it would be nice to see someone who looks like me on a regular basis on the covers of high fashion magazines and playing the role of the leading lady in movies and television shows. As a black woman, I am constantly scolded by the media and some of my people for being too dark, too nappy, and too fat and that women who look like me will never be placed on that anointed pedestal as the standard of beauty and loveliness for American society. If I were a white woman, this problem would be null and void because I would be considered the crème de la crème.

But alas, I am a black woman and that is nothing to shirk at. The strength and tenacity of black women who can make something literally out of nothing is something to be admired rather than scorned, and I am proud to be one. I actually feel sorry for white women sitting upon that fabled pedestal because it is a lonely tour of duty filled with unrealistic and shallow expectations and most fall swiftly and hard from that same pedestal. Better to be me with all my flaws, real and imagined, than to be a paragon of impossible beauty and virtue. But I can keep it real; sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a white woman. In my world, black women are called everything but a child of God, and for once it would be nice to be the anointed one.

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