In a satirical column, Dawn Picken contemplates a world flipped upside down when it comes to perceptions of race and fairness by putting herself in the shoes of someone of a different ethnicity - and imagining what it would be like to encounter institutional racism as a white person.
COMMENT: Please note this column contains strong use of satire ...
Pardon my language, but it sucks to be Pakeha these days. Have you noticed the world is against us?
This is why, in desperation, someone has been dropping leaflets into Tauranga letterboxes the past week with the headline, "Alright to be White."
Damned straight it is. Or used to be.
Our way of life is being threatened around the globe by cultural Marxists and Muslim immigrants. We're losing the essence of our whiteness, including the idea women should stay home and have babies. I weep for our planet.
I can't tell you how many times I've been followed by store employees who assume I'll steal something because of my skin colour. As if being pasty predisposes me to theft.
I have to warn my Caucasian teenagers, who will soon start driving, to be extra careful if they're stopped by a police officer. I worry they'll be treated more harshly than their brown counterparts. At least we're not in America, where whites comprise a disproportionate share of people killed by police.
"How come you didn't marry a brown person so I could be darker?" asks Miss 15. I tell her sometimes love chooses you, and sometimes love is many shades lighter than is culturally acceptable. I wasn't strategic about breeding to increase the amount of melanin in her skin. I'm sorry, honey. I failed you. You're doomed to whiteness. Forever.
Even in Aotearoa, our people are jailed at an alarming rate and we're two-and-a-half times more likely to die from assault and homicide than other ethnicities.
It is, indeed, a sad time to be white.
We didn't asked to be colonised. Our society may have looked primitive to folks who arrived on our shores many moons ago, but we survived, even thrived. We not only grew crops, we held yoga retreats, made kombucha and brewed craft beers.
Our way of life is precious. Today, it feels fragile.
Whites have higher rates of unemployment than non-whites. People like to say we're lazy, but racism plays a role. Did you see the story about the 17-year-old white girl who tried to get a job at a US Subway restaurant? For cripes sake, all the kid wanted to do was pile tiny slivers of meat onto freshly baked, uniform bread rolls. But after she dropped off an application, a manager texted an employee, "I don't want those people in our store."
Those people. I'm so fricken' (and by fricken' I mean the real word) tired of being one of "those people." Just because I'm skin tonally challenged doesn't make me less human. I've tried to give my complexion more colour, but end up with sunburned skin or a foundation mask that makes RuPaul, by comparison, look like a natural woman.
It's tough to get a good job, being so white. Almost every hiring manager I've interviewed with has been brown. We know what a "Brown Boys' Club" it is out there. People tend to hire staff like them. Too bad I remind scarcely anyone at the top of themselves. I try to use culturally appropriate references to fit in - alluding to sports I play and foods I eat. I still feel like a square peg trying to fit a round hole. I have few role models in business, since the vast majority of our country's CEOs and board executives are brown.
Perhaps I can show hiring managers evidence from DNA research that shows "white people" do not share a common genetic heritage. We come from different lineages that migrated from Africa and Asia. Scientists say all living humans share a common ancestor - in Africa. Will this knowledge help me convince someone to give me a good job?
Just look at government: we have a brown Prime Minister in New Zealand. Across the ditch, Aussies also elected one of those ethnic types. He's fighting hard for the rights of his people. Go you good thing, go - stand up for the disenfranchised, the poor, the imprisoned, the under-employed, the under-educated. We whites have suffered far too long. And the Americans, may God (the Christian God, who's also under attack - remember, 6 million Christians died in Nazi concentration camps in the 1940s) forgive them for electing someone who panders to minorities. Before you know it, the whole US system will collapse under the weight of white people trying to escape Central America, where they're under siege by gangs and poverty. My heart bleeds for those white folks.
Globally, white people face unprecedented levels of violence, genocide, disease and discrimination. If we don't take action now, history will keep repeating itself. We'll face the same, or worse, rates of violence, unemployment and imprisonment against our people. Meanwhile, rich brown people will get richer and browner.
Slavery and indentured servitude were stains on human dignity for centuries, and they're still practised in some corners. It hurts to know my people - nature's finest - were beaten and forced to work without recompense. Shake it off, I tell myself. Today's brown citizens can't possibly be expected to atone for the sins of their brown forefathers.
It's unfair racism against whites is so pervasive. As if white lives don't matter. Idiots for inclusion are so busy running the world's largest economies, they've left us behind. It's not too late. Speak up for white rights while you can. Much has been taken away - our wealth, our companies, our governments, our country club memberships, our rights … It's time to own our pain and make this planet great again.