White Out

by Rosie R.

White out. That’s what I call the town I live in sometimes. It does not get any whiter than this and I am not talking about snow. North Dakota is one of the most homogenous states in the U.S. There are very few minorities. When I moved to the town, the statistics gave the black population as 48. I joking called my self Number 49. When you live among people that have not had a lot of exposure to black people, you start to notice things you normally would not notice in a bigger city. The most evident is that now I know for sure that although not all white people are racist, about 70% of them are prejudiced – most of the time a result of ignorance, and sometimes by choice.

White people (sorry about generalizing) will never knowingly expose their prejudices. It is always subtle – a look, a comment, an action. Back in college a classmate of mine, a white male, whom I had spent a few times with as a study buddy finally got the courage to ask me why black men liked white women. He had genuine concern in his voice, like his race was loosing to lesser men. After getting over the shock of the fact that he actually trusted me enough now to throw my pencil at him, I said, “Well, I think it is just that back in the day it was taboo. Now, it is not and it is more out in the open.” I did not get into more details because I had my own beliefs about the white woman-black man thing. Another classmate groused about affirmative action and how he could not get into the school he wanted because he was not white, (boo-f*&^ing hoo) I thought to myself as I smiled in sympathy.

You see, a white person has to trust you completely to ask you the tough questions. That’s why I encourage them to ask if they are not sure.

“Is it black or African-American. I always think the word black is so negative,” one woman said to me once.

“Actually black is pretty appropriate as most times the individual might not really be African-American. They may be another nationality. So, if you don’t know, say black, there is nothing negative about being black.”

Another lady asked me at work, “Why did you change the cafeteria menu from Oriental Chicken Salad to Asian Chicken Salad?”

“Because, nothing is oriental any more, except carpets -and even those are objecting and choosing to call themselves Persian Rugs,” I replied.

Once, my co-worker called her niece who was of mixed blood, ‘mulatto’. I did a double take and gave her a lecture on what everyone was in the 21st Century. North Dakota is pretty isolated, I tell you. Another co-worker invited me to her home and her mother-in-law casually said, “There is nothing on TV except nigger shows.” She meant black comedy.

It is not just what they say; it is how they treat you too. Once I went to a bar with friends and after a few drinks, I felt brave enough to dance to the many country and rock songs playing. A guy approached me as I danced and started to dance with me. Once a while he would turn me around so my back was to him. I was not worried until he said, “that all you got?” That was when I realized he expected me to do the booty-hop. You know, Beyonce’s moves….

That is not the only time my black booty got more attention than I was prepared to give it. Another lady approached me at work and asked if I could give her lessons on how to do the ‘booty dance’. I was thinking, what? is it because I am black? But I said, “Ah, sorry, I can’t remember the last time I danced.”

My former boss who was probably one of the most enlightened ones asked me what a ‘bee-donk, bee-donk’ was. I sh*t you not. I laughed so hard I almost pissed myself. To mess with him, I said it meant junk in the trunk. He took that literally. I later had to explain that the correct pronunciation was b’dunk-b’dunk and junk in the trunk meant a nice rounded plump and full ass like mine (I’m joking here fellas).

Booty aside, let’s talk hair. That one really gets on my nerves. My ex who was white came from a family of wrestlers. All the boys were two to four time state champs. One brother (whom I later found out was not in favor of me dating his brother) asked me why one guy he wrestled grew his hair in an Afro. He said the guy’s hair gave him bruises all over his hands. I never said a word out of shock.

When I got my hair in braids, everyone and their third cousin would come up and touch my hair. A few would ask permission, others just took it upon themselves to figure how they could be so tiny. For the first week, I allowed it. After that, I practiced a killer frown that never failed to scare them away.

All in all my experience has really been eye-opening and I try really hard not to get irritated at ignorance. Besides, back home in naija we are quite guilty of the same thing – misconceptions of the white race and all that jazz.

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AFRO-AMERO December 21, 2008 - 7:17 am


“I agree, most of caucasians are just prejudiced and the way most African Americans behave and act, doesnt make the situation better


The prejudices white people harbor has nothing to do with the way Afro-Ameros act. This hatred has been going on for generations. Growing up a Black American and going to a diverse school, White Americans feel they can talk down about Africa to Black Americans. They do this because we have been here for generations and are disconncted from Africa and think we will not be offended.

Would it be fair for me to say that Africans need to get their act together in Africa so Whites could stop talking down the continent, especially Nigeria. No, I just check them and put them in their place. Plus, these White youths act just as bad as anyone.

D. Jacobs December 19, 2008 - 3:17 pm

Lol. This article is so funny but really true. What in Heavens name are u doing in North dakota, u r smack in the middle of the boonies Lol, Minnesota is more diverse so please relocate Lol. Well I agree most of caucasians are just prejudiced, and the way most african americans behave and act, doesnt make the situation better either. I think I have pretty much mastered the art of avoiding going with the girlfriends to visit their family during thanksgiving or christmas, cos i just wanna avoid the subtle racist attitudes. About the black guy-white girl thing, Speaking as an african i just think its the fact that we didnt really have opportunities to mix and mingle with caucasians, so it just come naturally to want get a piece of that, if u know what i mean.

Chinwe March 2, 2008 - 7:05 am

I love your article! Especially where you refer to your boss as “one of the enlightened ones!”- Good job!

Olu January 18, 2008 - 7:08 pm

Your classmate asked you why black men liked white women but he failed to realise that white women also like black men. There is a mutual attraction between black men and white women – and there are genuine reasons for this.

lara December 4, 2007 - 9:15 am

Nice Article, laughed really hard. i am the only black in my office and i always get asked how i feel when, o i don't know..

Don imus says something stupid

A black football or nfl players does something wrong

Any one in the office sees a movie (1)about black people, (2)africa, (3)wild animals you name it.

o and please don't ever comment about how hot it is.. "o you feel the heat?? isnt Africa hot?(ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!)


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