Disclaimers Suck. (and so does taking diversity for granted)

30 Mar

To me, using a disclaimer is as good as saying no offense. Saying ‘no offense’ at the beginning of a statement is as useless as white bread because typically, you end up offending someone. I’ve said all that to say, I love white people. I love them so much, I married one. According to Stuff White People Like, I AM white. But spending the last four days in a sea of whiteness started to really get to me. No, I was not in the Hamptons attending one of P. Diddy’s famous white parties. I was in Palm Springs at a resort on behalf of my husband’s company.

It wasn’t until the second day of my stay that I realized I’ve taken diversity for granted. I grew up and am now raising my son in a suburb where diversity is in its mission statement. Yes, my town has a mission statement. And according to the most recent census data, our collective minority population is now almost half of the entire population.

Working in DC and living in Columbia has made me so culturally diverse that stepping out of that bubble was incredibly isolating. To say that I was the only person of color on this trip would be an exaggeration. To say I was one of a few people of color enjoying the amenities of our resort (spa, pool, penthouse suite, gym), is spot on. The people of color I saw? Cleaning my room (twice a day), providing my transportation, or cooking my food. After four days, I counted five additional people of color at my resort, most of whom were Asian.

I have strived all of my life to not make race an issue. I’ve never played the ‘race card’ and I have worked my ass off for everything I have and not because I am a minority, but because I am a hard and diligent worker. I am 100 percent secure with my race and individuality and do not need the presence of other minorities to validate myself. I could go on and on, but I’ve said all of this to say, what happens in a community where the only people of color you see are essentially, serving you?

I understand that not all white people are rich and that people of all ethnic backgrounds can be poor, middle class, and even wealthy. However, there is a clear disparity at the top of the pyramid of wealth, and there seems to be one dominating race. When I try to think of the answer to my proposed question, I can only draw more questions.

Do they realize that people of color work in other professions?
Do they understand the immense class gap between themselves and everyone else?
Do they consider those who serve them a lesser people?
Do they even care?
Most importantly, do they realize that not everyone plays golf and drives a Range Rover? (Or wants to.)

I’m glad that my trip was only four days; any longer and I may have gone insane. My trip was overall relaxing, but I couldn’t help this nagging feeling that something didn’t feel quite right.

Inequality is everywhere and I obviously didn’t need to travel to Palm Springs to be faced with it. I face it every day. However, the magnitude as to which it was in the white desert was exacerbated.

This post brought to you by Maureen.

2 Responses to “Disclaimers Suck. (and so does taking diversity for granted)”

  1. Tara March 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    An interesting read about this in the context of whiteness, India and trance music that expounds on all this: http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/S/saldanha_psychedelic.html

  2. Jaime VanEnkevort April 7, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    I’m taking a great class right now from an awesome professor – it’s all about multiculturalism in education. We recently wrote an identity paper, focusing on the self as a racial being. She gave us this resource:


    I think it’ll answer some of your questions about White privilege.

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