People of colour are sharing what they’d do if they were white for just one day and it proves that racism is still alive and well. US based software developer, Sonia Gupta yesterday tweeted asking her fellow people of colour what they would do if they were white for just one day.
Gupta got the ball rolling, telling her followers that she would go to a yoga class and not feel out of place. Her comment is a nod to the discussion surrounding the Western world’s cultural appropriation of the practice which originated in India.
But it’s certainly not the only space in which other people of colour felt that their white counterparts existed with greater ease. One user said, “I’d argue with a policeman.”
Another agreed, “I’d talk crazy to the police without fear of any punishment whatsoever.”
And one said, “I’d like to think I’d stick up for people who seem to be getting hassled by officers.” The answers point to the wider trend that police often view people of colour with greater suspicion than white people. Because of the fraught relationship between communities of colour and the authorities, many are taught to show as little resistance as possible when dealing with the police for fear of violent retaliation.
Those learned behaviours mean that the emotion, particularly the anger, of communities of colour is often policed out of a sense of self-preservation. A number of commenters indicated that experience in their response to Gupta’s tweet.
One commenter said, “I would get angry without worrying I’ll forever be known as angry and instead feel the joy of knowing I’m allowed to have varied emotions.”
Another agreed, “I’d allow myself to show my anger without worrying about someone calling the police.”
One of the commenters pointed out that white people are often given license to use their emotions to manipulate others in a way that people of colour are not, “Something very nasty would be to bully the hell out of people and weaponise my tears when caught in the act. Many white women do this a lot!”
The other experience that was common amongst the responses was the difficulty of finding employment and existing in the workplace as a person of colour. One commenter said, “I’d apply for, and be hired for jobs I am not qualified for.”
Another spoke about the experience of trying to progress within a company saying, “I would apply for a promotion at work and get it without having to prove my competence again and again.”
Another made a tongue-in-cheek comment pointing out the double standards that ask people of colour to overachieve in order to have success while white people can, “make mediocre rap music and get paid...handsomely.”
The variety of responses to Gupta’s tweet showcase the often overlooked difficulties of existing as a person of colour. And in many ways help break down the structural issues of cultural appropriation, police violence, generational trauma and racism into each tiny moment of resistance in the hope that it helps others to understand.
Zoe Victoria is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @Zoe__V