17 People Talk About The First Time They Experienced Privileges For Being White
"The officers told me how to make up an excuse to avoid being arrested."
BuzzFeed Brazil asked readers about the moment when they first realized they were white and that their skin color affected the way the world saw them. Here's what they said:
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
1. My boyfriend and I were victims of kidnapping. When we were finally able to call the police and get out of the car, my boyfriend was spread-eagled and searched."
"They pointed their guns at his head, even though I said repeatedly that he was my boyfriend. The police officer claimed it was just procedure. But why didn't I go through the same procedure? That's when I understood that he went through it because he's black and I'm not." — Marcela Zillisg
2. "A black friend had to call my friend in order to get buzzed in at her building's entrance."
"Meanwhile, I had just walked in without saying a word to anyone." — Victor Nascimento
3. "I was caught at the scene of a crime, and inside the police car, the officers told me how to make up an excuse to avoid being arrested."
"They suggested I say that I'd confused the victim with someone who'd been hitting on my boyfriend and that was why I'd become aggressive. And that's how I got out of going to a youth detention center." — Anonymous
4. "A lot of people asked why I was friends with her. When we walked together, they would yell horrible things at us."
"When I was about fourteen, I became friends with a girl who lived in the same condominium as my father. She was really cool, fun, and smart. I couldn't understand why she didn't have many friends, and why she studied at home and not at school. But not long after I found out why. A lot of people asked why I was friends with her. When we walked together, they would yell horrible things at us. The reason? She was black, and I was white." — Anonymous
5. "Security doesn't stop me."
"When I go to the bank while wearing a tank top and board shorts, I don't take my keys out of my pocket and security doesn't stop me." — Lucas Fazzi
6. "A black friend asked me to hail a cab for him."
"One day, I ran into a black friend on the street who was coming out of the same club I was. He asked me to hail a cab for him, because it'd be very difficult for him to stop one at that hour." — Julia Debasse
7. "At my interview for my American visa, when I saw a person in front of me who was black get denied — and I was approved."
"They asked this person a lot of questions, just absolutely grilling him. I was scared to death, but they only asked me one question — "When are you traveling?" Ten seconds later, I was approved." — Tamires Posenato
8. "When I was a kid ... people would ask if my mother was my nanny."
"My mother is black and my aunt (my father's sister) is blonde with blue eyes. Despite having all the of my mother's features and curly hair, I was born white, blonde, and with green eyes. So, when I was a kid and I would be out with both of them, people would ask if my mother was my nanny." — Carol Betella
9. "My little brother from my host family asked me to give him the 'skin color' crayon, and I handed him the beige."
"When I was 16, I did an exchange school program in the United States, in Mississippi, near Texas. Until then, I'd never lived with a black person other than my grandmother's maid. For me, the idea that white people were the standard only sunk in when my little brother from my host family, asked me to give him the 'skin color' crayon, and I handed him the beige. He looked at me and said 'no, the color of my skin'. Since then I've tried to deconstruct this internalized racism." —
Juliana Vianna Silva
10. "When I went to a supermarket and thought a customer was the security guy."
"When I went to a supermarket a few years ago, I went up to a guy to ask for information thinking he was the security guard. He was really embarrassed, and said he was a customer. The one who should be ashamed is me. And I really was." — Flávia Durante
11. "A police officer asked me if I was being kidnapped."
"One day, my cousins and I were driving to the movies. At a traffic stop, a police officer asked me if I was being kidnapped. I was 9 years old; my cousins are black." — Felipe Felisardo
12. "Two black friends who were with me at a protest were also grabbed, beaten, and threatened with death if they returned to participate in another demonstration."
"At a demonstration in 2013, the police tagged a group of people I was part of, and at the end of the protest, they stopped many of us separately on our way home. One police car followed me and stopped me aggressively, with a gun pointed at me and a lot of shouting. While I found it all absurd and disrespectful, I learned that my two black friends who were with me at the protest were also grabbed, beaten, and threatened with death if they returned to participate in a demonstration. One of them actually never did come back. I got home fine and intact, my friends didn't." — Anonymous
13. "How could she let the maid bring her own baby to the hospital?"
"My mother, who is black, told me that when I was a baby, I got very sick, and she had to take me to the emergency room. When she arrived, my mother heard a nurse say 'Where is this child's mother' and 'How could she let the maid bring her own baby to the hospital?'" — Txai Ferraz
14. "I'm going to let you go because I don't know who you are, you could be the daughter of some judge, an appellate judge's granddaughter..."
"When I was 12, I stole chocolates at a supermarket. I was caught, the security guy chewed me out, and I returned everything. Before I left, the security guard said to me, 'I'm going to let you go because I don't know who you are, you could be the daughter of some judge, an appellate judge's granddaughter...'" — Anonymous
15. "We were both from families from the same social class, but it was only she, the black girl, who was excluded..."
"I went to a private elementary school, where I was a scholarship student, like many classmates. One of my friends who was also on scholarship was black. I don't remember there being any other black girls in my classroom. This girl was bullied so much. When I was about 5 or 6, a group of girls said that NOBODY could play with her. Just like that, for no reason at all. I remember coming to the playground and seeing her playing alone and crying, because nobody wanted to be near her. Some classmates/friends and I went to play with her, but I remember being very saddened/shocked by the situation. She was already excluded a lot of times for no reason AT ALL. Since we were friends out of school too, I didn't understand it, since she was so cool and fun. I only realized the real reason for it that day, because we were both from families from the same social class, but it was only she, the black girl, who was excluded in such an appalling way." — Anonymous
16. "I accidentally stole a chocolate bar at a convenience store."
"A few weeks ago, I went to the gas station to buy some snacks. I have a habit of being in a rush, and I always eat before I get in line. That said, I went to the rack, opened a bag of Doritos, ate some peanuts, and went to the cashier to pay. I paid for everything I'd eaten, went outside the store, smoked a cigarette with some friends, and then we left. A few minutes later, I realized I was carrying a chocolate bar on me. I'd even put it in the front pocket of my jacket, and yet no one had said anything about it." — Anonymous
17. "The policemen lined the eight guys up next to the bus and searched them one by one. Meanwhile, I stood off to the side."
"I was coming back from college when a group of police officers decided to stop the bus. I was sleeping in the back, and I only realized what was going down when I noticed the cops ordering all the men to get off. There were nine men counting me; I was the only white man.
"About three of the policemen lined the [other] eight guys up next to the bus and searched them one by one. Meanwhile, I stood off to the side, watching as though I was completely untouchable and feeling ashamed. Just so it wouldn't seem totally unfair, one of the police asked me to open my backpack. When he looked inside and saw the empty candy wrappers that I had been waiting to throw away, he even congratulated me with a big smile and called me a model citizen.
"Then the officer told me to get back on the bus. I waited for another 15 minutes while the others were searched repeatedly, and one of them was taken in because he didn't have his ID on him. I didn't have mine either, but no one even asked. " — Anonymous