Thoughts on being a white minority

One of the reasons we moved to Puerto Rico was to give our kids a broader experience of the world. To experience diversity, learn another language, and live among people who are different, yet like us.

What would it be like to be a minority? I’ve only been in the minority once before in my life. In London at an Indian wedding.  It was me, a German guy, and 2 black British people at one table, and about 200 Indians around us. It was fascinating.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about what it’s like to be a minor in the USA today. I had hoped that moving to a place where our looks/speech/traditions are not the norm would help us to understand this issue a little better.

As I thought more about this and observed, I realized being a minority is easy. At least for my family. Why? I really could come up with only three, relatively simple answers.

1) I’m white. Even though I don’t look Latina, I don’t stick out.  People don’t turn their heads to look at us (ok, only to admire my daughter’s blonde hair but you know what I mean).  Maybe I’d have to travel to rural Asia or Africa or other areas (southern Mississippi?) if I really wanted to experience what it feels like to look really physically different. Maybe then whatever it means to be white wouldn’t follow me there.  But as it is, the privileges/open doors/general easiness because of my skin has followed me here.

2) Puerto Ricans are just plain nice. So far, I haven’t experienced any (known) inequalities given to me.  I don’t think I’m getting a special (i.e. raised) price on services. Once in the food store I think a lady was mocking me because I wasn’t understanding her. But truthfully, I was ignoring her because I think she wanted to butt in line. So I didn’t care. In restaurants when we ask for a table I think a few times they seat us in a specific section where there is an English speaking server. But I think that’s maybe more along the lines of being nice than discriminatory.

Now if we were Mexican, I think we would be treated in a negative way. Puerto Ricans and Mexicans don’t get along at all.

3) The social circles we are in are mostly like the ones we were in in Wisconsin: mid-upper Middle class.  My neighborhood here is full of doctors, professions and engineers.  Most of the people I meet have either been educated in the States or have family there. Does this mean they are more opened minded and accepting than Puerto Ricans living in the rural parts of the mountains? Dunno. I don’t know enough of them to know. But I think it does factor in.

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After all is said and done, are we giving our kids a broader perspective of the world? Definitely.

Will they be more accepting of people who are different than them? I certainly hope so.

Are we experiencing what is feels like to be a “minority” (with all that word entails?) No.

It was still a good move to make.

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One Response to Thoughts on being a white minority

  1. Jean Truesdale says:

    I visited a website today from Teaching Tolerance today. They said that we are all biased toward people like ourselves, but may also be biased toward those who dominate our culture, even when parents try to avoid passing on cultural biases. (i.e. White privilege may seem proper to darker skinned kids if that’s what they see on TV and around them). This link: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ has lots of small tests you can take to measure your hidden biases in different areas of life. The technology ferrets out the biases we learned as toddlers (when they begin) and may be trying to overcome. At least I am. I took the easiest test for me, “Science & Gender”, and since I love science and have female cousins with science degrees, I thought I’d test relatively bias free. Nope! I am moderately biased toward associating science with males and liberal arts with females. It’s fascinating. One of these days I’ll brave the tests on the harder subjects.

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