“We eat eggs and I tell Y about how when I was 8 years old, I taught my white friend, B (actually called Becky), how to count to 10 in Urdu. How at school the next day she looked at her feet as she shuffled past me, and the white teacher pulled me aside and asked me why I was bullying Becky, because Becky’s mum said I was bullying Becky, and that maybe it would be best if I didn’t sit next to her anymore. She suggested this with the kind of half-arsed, sad-eyed, apologetic shrug that white women perform when it is less of a scene to administer psychological warfare against a brown child than it is to challenge your fellow white woman.”
this quote, from this fantastic reading about the gay brown author’s relationship to white women, really does sum up a lot of my relationships and failed friendships with certain white girls.
i remember in 1st grade i sat next to this white girl named hannah on the bus everyday. then a new girl, an immigrant girl from eastern europe (also white obviously) came and basically took my spot next to her. in elementary school i was soft, innocent, naive, clingy, and easily jealous. i am none of those things today precisely because of the trauma i’ve experienced as a result of bullying from white people and men, but at the time i felt so hurt when my white friend hannah easily transferred her friendship with me to her friendship with this white girl (although i didn’t know it then, this was the earliest sign in my life that whites practice negative racial solidarity with each other and will immediately align themselves with each other as a reflex). (a sign that white sociopathy is real).
so one day on the bus home i drew a picture of the two girls - typical stick figure style drawing. they were linking arms and i drew a bubble that said “i hate you”. the figure was meant to depict that these two girls were making me feel alienated and isolated, and that i felt like they hated me. when i naively gave the picture to hannah, hoping that she’d understand where i was coming from, she interpreted it as me saying i hated her. so she took the picture home and told her parents about it. the next day, on the bus to school she said “my parents and i discussed the picture over dinner” and i felt my stomach drop because i knew she’d misinterpreted it, yet there was nothing i could do. at school that day, my white teacher, after being told by hannah’s parents that i had “bullied” their daughter, took me aside and lectured me, told me to rip up the picture, and told me to apologize to hannah and the white girl. they also called my parents.
naturally, this gave my abusive father the impetus to beat me as punishment that day. i remember going home and not being able to focus on the book i was reading or the food i had to eat because i knew that when he came home he’d beat me. he was in such a bad mood (my father likes to work himself up into a bad mood to inflict maximum physical or verbal violence onto my mother, me, or my brother, and that’s his way of reaching catharsis) and at this point i was used to the cycle of doing something wrong and getting slapped or beaten by my father as punishment. it did nothing to diminish my fear, of course, because i got more scared the more i expected the inevitable beating. my father was so angry that he slapped my brother (who was, at the time, three years old). now, of course my brother has not been immune to getting beaten by my father. our father stopped beating us when i turned thirteen (so he was eight when my father stopped the physical abuse) but my father still uses his height to look physically imposing (like, coming/stalking towards us in a very clearly aggressive manner meant to showcase his power, which is actually a type of physical abuse). anyway, he then turned to me and after the typical yelling/asking me questions he already knew the answer to, he beat me, my mom restrained him after he beat me, and i went to bed and cried myself to sleep.
i never bothered explaining to anyone that i didn’t mean to say anything negative about those white girls, that in fact i was expressing that i thought they were the ones who were bullying me, but the damage was already done and two weeks later i had forgiven my father and kept my distance from those girls and the memory faded, popping up in nightmares from time to time. i guess i became so used to being beaten as a punishment that i haven’t taken the time to realize that a lot of the time i’ve been beaten as a punishment, it’s been caused directly or indirectly by the actions of some white classmate or teacher or other white person in an academic setting.
what i didn’t realize at the time either is that hannah and the other white girl were displaying signs of not only white sociopathy but also white fragility, which are equally dangerous for people of color.
i also really love this reading because the author, aisha mirza, is a gay woman of color (she self-identifies as queer). she talks about desiring and fucking white women but feeling dirty because those white women racialize her. and i feel the exact same way every time i am attracted to a white woman.