White Wash

by Wendy-O Matik

While sleep escapes her,
she lists her confessions.

I was conceived in part because of race
this was 1966
I was delivered in a white-walled hospital on white bed sheets
beside the spirit of thousands of white babies before me
amidst white doctors
and white nurses
while people of other races
held the janitorial jobs—
scrubbing toilets, dumping garbage
serving food, doing laundry
I grew up in a predominantly
white neighborhood
because white privilege bleached the streets
in the image of their choosing.
I went to schools packed with a predominantly
all-white student body with all-white teachers
and all-white administrators and all-white textbooks,
transcribing a dominant Eurocentric colonialist perspective
whose white privilege excluded the accomplishments
and contributions of people of color
because they were taught to do so.

White employers hire me
based on my privilege of white reflection.
I gain entry into places because of my white status—
universities, clubs, bars, jobs, organizations of the elite
summer camp, student exchange program
Because of my whiteness
I am excluded and protected
from gangs, juvie, prison, military service, racial profiling
and other lower socio-economic traps.
I am permitted unlimited access to
free drugs, parties, neighborhoods,
stores, and gated communities
without suspicion or second-guessing of my right to be there.
Because I am a gold card–carrying white person
with detailed, specified entitlements,
society serves me, and my white brothers and sisters,
without questions
respectively and accordingly.

I am alive and here today
in this white-washed apartment
owned by my white landlord
holding this job, savings account,
car, clothes, and all the rest
thanks to my sweet little white ass.
And believe me,
when I tell you,
that I never forget it,
nor the heavy responsibility
that comes with it.


Wendy-O Matik is a poet, writer, activist, and the author of Love Like Rage and Redefining Our Relationships. Back in the 90s, she could be found doing spokenword in the Bay Area punk scene and touring with various punk bands in the US, Canada, U.K, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, she lives on an organic farm in Santa Rosa, CA, where she has coauthored nine mindfulness meditation books and still dabbles in poetry from time to time.

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