Friday, November 20, 2015

Brown Privilege

I can arrange
to be around people
of my own race
most of the time,
whether I
want it or not.

I can avoid spending time
with people whom I was trained
to mistrust,
mostly because
I’m unwelcome there.

I can go shopping alone
most of the time
at la carniceria,
la panaderia,
or any of the price-point,
mini-mall variety stores
pretty well assured
I won’t be followed
or harassed.

I can turn on the tv
or read the front page
of the newspaper,
and see people
of my race widely represented,
mostly in stories about
illegal immigration,
and quinceaneras .

I can be pretty sure
of having my voice heard
in a group where
I am the only member
of my race,
as long as I am
amusing and

I can do well
in a challenging situation
without being called
a credit to my race,
although I have been called
“one of the good ones.”

I can worry about racism
perpetrated against
white people
without being seen
as self-interested or

I can take a job
that I am overqualified for
with an affirmative action
employer without
my co-workers suspecting
I got the job
because of my race.

I can be late to a meeting
or La Raza
without my lateness
reflecting on my race.

I will feel
welcomed and “normal”
in the usual walks of public life,
institutional and social,
provided I know my place
and stay there.


  1. Strong & powerful write. I do feel this is one of your best poems :)

  2. Oh isnt this the bitter truth? The very thought of a human being having to "know my place" makes me cringe. But that is the messed up world we live in. Sigh. I saw a bumper sticker once that expresses my angst perfectly. It said "Evolve, dammit!" Yup. Long past time. Great write, Buddah. Always so nice to see you in the Pantry, kiddo.

  3. Yes.. it seems society works that way, I remember how well integrated I felt living in Phoenix, while some of those that lived in generations where treated like immigrants... and I was only a visiting...

  4. Yeeow! We have examples of this here. Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes was applauded and even made Australian of the year. Then he called out a spectator for a racist taunt, on one occasion, and did a dance of triumph in another, and suddenly he was booed at every game for being 'too aggressive'. So much so, that even though other footballers and members of the public aligned themselves with him, he decided to stop playing.

  5. As a woman, I can relate to being treated as if a lesser form of human. Even in this day and age we are put in our place. I am an engineer and as long as I have worked, I've been called little lady, miss, are you sure your calculations are correct? when not questioning a male co-worker's calculations. I think we tend to stay with those with whom we are similar - to shop, eat, work in certain areas. We stay where we are comfortable. Being comfortable isn't always a good thing either. Excellent poem.

  6. As long as we are quiet and occasionally entertaining ...what kind of privilege is that? What you describe here is survival.

  7. Damn. This is an excellent poem.