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White Light

Jonathan Stoll
On Perception (March 2023)
Inward Light


My son is part white.
But he wants to be Full white.
Something’s not adding up I told myself
Something here’s, just’s not right

He’s a quarter white Because I’m half white.
My dad, like his father and his father is full white.
They weren’t always, white; They were German and Hungarian before they became White.
It’s a construct, but you already knew that, right?

My mom’s Indian, Goa to be exact,
but was born and raised in Africa.
Nairobi, Kenya, to be exact. So that’s a quarter Indian
My mom’s Portuguese and Indian, the Portuguese colonized the GOA.
And my mom came here and assimilated to the ways
of the USA

So yeah, I’m mixed, but mostly I’ve been confused and mixed up
Cause my mom was born in Africa making me
African American, but not Black.
Great grandmother was born in India,
but Columbus got it backwards,
Indian?  My peers asked, “The feather or the dot?”
I didn’t know it was racist at the time, so I just laughed
Internalized racism can work like that.
I started preempting the jokes and them taking shots
By referring to myself as being connected to the dots
So I’m all of it, but not really connected to any of it
Not enough of this, not enough of that
For so long
I Struggled to belong,
It seemed I added up to less than the sum of my parts.

Maybe that’s why my son wants to be White.
And at first, I pushed back,
I wanted him to be proud of where he came from,
comfortable in his own skin,
happy with who he is
But after I listened, and began to understand him,
I began to understand why my son wants to be white
And you might be surprised to learn,
but now that’s something I think is quite alright.

Let me explain.

It started a few weeks ago when I asked my son
what he wants to be when he grows up.
He said, “Michelle Obama said
that that’s the worst thing you can even ask a kid,
because There is no destination, we’re evolving,
and we’ll never make it because we’re always becoming.

He continued quoting and said Saul Williams said,
All that I am I have been
All I have been has been a long time coming
I am becoming all that I am

I said, “Okay, but you’re no kid,
you’re about to graduate, so what do you want to be?

And he said, “White.
“White?” I cried. No, A doctor, an engineer, a lawyer.
Who do you want to be?
He said, “It seems to me
you want to know what I want to do,
but what I do doesn’t matter
if I never become who I seek to be.
As long as I’m black or brown, that’s all they see.
I don’t want black power. To hell with brown pride.
I want what’s white – privilege, power, and peace

White Peace I asked?

He said, “The white dove represents peace
The peace that this country, this world
was colonized and created for people like me.
But when someone doesn’t belong,
they’re a black swan or black sheep

He said, “I want to be at peace,
but I have trouble just getting to sleep,
Afraid that I’ll never experience it till I’m resting in peace

He said, “Nightmares and crimes
Violence and black eyes
All occur in the black of the night.

Black clouds bring rain
Particles and light disappear into black holes.
illegal drugs are sold on the black market
hostile takeovers of companies made by black knights.
Cars crash slipping on patches of black ice.
Terrorists tortured at covert “black sites.
People who can’t be trusted are Blacklisted
But People are trusted for telling innocent white lies.
No power and it’s a Black out.
Kaepernick took a knee For Black Lives Matter
and Black Power, and he was Black balled out.

White papers share information about solutions to problems
Blackmailing someone shares information
about their misdeeds, causing problems

I asked, “What’s this all about. Why you trying to act white?
He said, “I don’t want to act white,
that’s widening eyes and
whitening skin with bleaching creams.
billion dollar “whitening” industries.
He shook his head and said,
I’m happy with my color and Melanin.
I just want to be White.

How, I asked, perplexed “can you be white
without having white skin?
And I added, “You’re one-quarter white!”

He said, “I’m more than a fraction or a math equation.
I don’t feel white.”
I laughed, “How can you feel white? 
White is a color, not a feeling.”
He said, “No,” Dick Gregory said, “White is an attitude.”
Being White is rooted in what you believe.
And what other people see.
That this world was made by a white God for me.

“Okay,” I said, “I think I’m beginning to see”

He said, “Let me tell you what I see
When I see white,
I see clean white linen sheets
flesh colored Band-Aids,
and privilege and pleasantries with police
I see white picket fences
and black men behind black iron bars,
I see inheritance and a growing gap
between haves and have nots,
I see Clothes cleaned til they’re bleached like Heaven, sanitary and white
I see corporate welfare and white-collar crimes,
but no time,
I see power. I see a country and a school system
built for them.
And a criminal justice system built for us
that keeps them out and keeps us in.

I see Felicity Huffman, rich and white, gets two weeks
But Kelley Williams-Bolar, poor and black, gets five years
for doing the same thing
for lying
For a better education for her children,
but Felicity’s free and Kelly’s in prison with felons
Blacks who use crack are criminals, lock em up,
we throw away the key
Whites who use oxycontin are patients,
we give them sympathy

I see White Jesus; I see white supremacy.
White unicorns and white fairy tales.
Teeth whitening. Skin whitening.
History rewritten and whitened

Maybe it’s because stolen land, boarding schools
and internment camps, voter suppression,
forced assimilation, Tuskegee experiments
and school segregation
Slavery, black codes, and separate but equal and Jim Crow
stopping and frisking, Redlining, and redistricting
have left us questioning the appropriateness of our cultures while they appropriate our cultures

He said, “Picture an American citizen. Who do you see?  
I admitted I see white, I didn’t even see me.
I saw the woman who screamed, If you don’t like it here, go back to where you came from.

“That’s it” he said. Even though you and I are American citizens, They don’t think we belong
Born and raised here on American soil,
they only see immigrants as black and brown

The imposter was invented
Brainwashed and white washed

As if yoga, meditation,
hiking, being one with nature,
Vegan, vegetarianism
connecting with mind, soul and body
And Eating and Living healthily
Were somehow inherently white

But Before slave ships in Africa.
before super mercados in Mexico.
Before the inquistadoras In Bolivia,
We were made of 100% pure light,
made up of the same particles and atoms
that comprise stars and the galaxies,
black holes and sun light,

When it rains, water droplets
separate the beam of white light into a spectrum of colors
A rainbow, red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, indigo and violet light
Pilgrims, missionaries and white saviors and white scientists
Have poured down division
separating our light into colors and races

They’ve divided us apart
To such great lengths
we’ve forgotten that the complete mixture
of all the wavelengths,
that make up the visible spectrum of Sun light is white light
And that we are not only a part of the rainbow
That is made up of red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, indigo and violet light
We are the Light
And the divine Light shines from within us all

Like the light, and oneness from which we unite,
the complete mixture of the diversity of our hues,
skin tones, colors,
makes you, my son, and all of us – Light

My son, you must not aspire to become white.
When we realize who we are, we realize we like the rainbow
are already just white, just the way we are.

Jonathan Stoll is a college instructor, a co-producer of the Western Friend Podcast, and attends Corvallis Friends Meeting (NPYM).


white privilege self-awareness

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