Don’t tell me that white people don’t experience their share of racism. Not after my experiences over the last few months.
Full disclosure: I am a white man. I stand a hair under 6-foot-2 and have a medium build. Apparently, these three physical characteristics are enough for racists to draw some pretty big conclusions about me. Have I ever owned a Coldplay album? Do I eat an exorbitant amount of quinoa? Yes and yes. Those things happen to be true, but they are not the generalizations that irk and hurt me.
What bothers me is the glances and stares I get wherever I go: to the gym, on a walk with my dog, at the grocery store buying more quinoa. The whispers. The complete strangers coming up to me in public and asking the question:
“Ohmigod. Do you play wide receiver for the New England Patriots?”
Not: “Are you Danny Amendola?” Or: “Are you Julian Edelman?” Or: “Are you Wes Welker?” Or: “Are you the new white one Chris Hogan?” Nope. They just ask me if I’m a wide receiver for the Patriots because these RACISTS think all average white guys are interchangeable and play receiver for the Patriots. They don’t even bother learning these players’ names. Or my name.
A friend of mine in college experienced this same kind of racism — but it was reverse racism to what I’m experiencing. Kendall was 6-foot-6 and always got asked by people if he played basketball. He did not. He played the trombone and was an Econ major. And one night after a few Twisted Teas he disclosed to me that his lifelong dream was to be a white possession receiver, but society wouldn’t let him because he was black and tall and not a good athlete. It was heartbreaking to hear.
But never did I think that I would be targeted in a similar way.
I don’t know how to say it any clearer, but:
NOT ALL WHITE GUYS IN THEIR 20s AND 30s PLAY WIDE RECEIVER FOR THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS.
Sure, Bill Belichick has probably scouted all of us at one time or another via hidden cameras. But I’m not currently a Patriots receiver and never have been. Maybe one day I will be, who knows. I’m sure I could get wide open a few times in the Steelers secondary. But that’s not my point. My point is this: stop stereotyping me. Stop trying to put me in a box. Stop assuming I run crossing patterns over the top of the box. Stop thinking I’m a rich athlete with heart and grit who can take shots over the middle of the field and bounce right back up just because of the way I look. Stop being racist.
You can do it. You will have to challenge your worldview and your preconceived notions. It will be hard. But as Chris Martin of Coldplay sings:
“Nobody said it was easy.”
And one more thing: I’m way taller than Edelman and Welker. That’s the most insulting thing of all.