Fiction: Whitewashed

Fiction: Whitewashed

In a world where racial roles are reversed, a white girl experiences what it's like to be a person of color.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

This piece is inspired by photographer Chris Buck's "Let's Talk About Race" photo essay in O, The Oprah Magazine's May 2017 issue.

The white girl woke up to the sunlight streaming from her window and the distant noises of the television in the background. As she got ready for the long day ahead of her, she reached for her makeup and found her favorite concealer — but discovered, to her dismay, that the container of pale, eggshell-colored liquid was empty. Sighing, she added a mental note to buy more concealer this evening, if she could find the right shade.

As the girl headed down the stairs, the distant noises of the TV became louder and clearer. "Shooting Of White, Unarmed Man By Black Police Officer," blasted the headline. As the newscaster detailed the events of the shooting, the girl felt angry and frustrated. How long would it take, how many shootings before everyone realized that these were not coincidences or mistakes, and that these shootings were a result of preconceived notions about race?

The girl felt a sudden wave of sickness. Without eating breakfast, she headed straight for her car. The radio was on and was describing the shooting of the white male in extreme detail. The girl, her light-colored fingers gripping the steering wheel so that they appeared even whiter, could barely summon the energy to switch the radio knob off.

The girl barely managed the one-hour drive it took to get to her day job at a nail salon. As she entered the shop, she could see the beginnings of a long day — groups of Asian women, clutching their phones to their ears or gossiping to other Asian women in Vietnamese, cluttered the salon and waited for their nails to be done.

The owner of the nail salon, a short, middle-aged white man, greeted the girl. His eyes seemed sad, as if he had also heard the news about the police shooting. He directed her towards her first customer, a Chinese woman who looked like she drove an SUV and had three all-star athletic children. As the girl approached, the woman didn't even acknowledge her; instead, she seemed to be arguing in Cantonese on her phone.

The girl cycled through five customers before her lunch break. She moved to the back corner and opened her lunch box, which contained potato salad and half of a broccoli casserole. As she was digging into her food, she noticed a Vietnamese woman sniffing the air. The woman wrinkled her nose, leaned over to her friend and asked in a loud whisper, "What is that smell?"

The girl was embarrassed, but this wasn't the first time this had happened. She had brought some meatloaf a few weeks ago, and all the customers had stared at her until she moved into the back room of the salon.

After her lunch break, the girl went back to the endless stream of women needing their nails done. Finally, the clock chimed nine o'clock, the final few customers left and the girl was free to leave.

Remembering her promise earlier to buy some more concealer, the girl decided a quick stop to the local drugstore was necessary. She browsed through the aisles, but she couldn't seem to find her perfect shade. Instead, there were rows and rows of brown, yellow and black foundation, but almost no white or lighter-colored makeup. The ones that were closer to white were still too tan and dark for the girl's pale, creamy skin.

As the girl was reminiscing on her bad fortune, she caught ear of an argument a few aisles next to her. "Why are you speaking English? We're in America. There's no official language."

The girl peered over and saw a Hispanic man confronting a white man. The Hispanic man continued on: "Why did your ancestors come over here, two hundred years ago? I mean, you weren't welcome, and you aren't now either. The native Americans should have built a wall to keep you criminals and scoundrels out." With that said, the Hispanic man left the white man in the dust, gaping.

As the white girl drove home, she couldn't stop thinking about the unfairness of the world. Why did she have to live in a world where her every action, her every thought was dictated by the color of her skin? Why did she have to live in a world where preconceived notions of race played the biggest part in determining the future of an individual? Why did she have to live in a world where the phrase "equality and justice for all" were merely words every schoolchild said every morning and then promptly forgot? Why did she live in a world where her status in life and how others perceived her were all based on something that she couldn't control?

In no way is this fiction piece meant to offend or anger anyone. This piece was written solely to open the eyes and minds of everyone, white and non-white, to the struggles people of color face every day, because only through open minds and hearts can we progress as a society.


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A list Of 15 Inspiring Words That Mean So Much

A single word can mean a lot.
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Positivity is so important in life. A lot of times we always go to quotes for empowerment but I have realized that just one word can be just as powerful. Here is a list of inspiring words.

1. Worthy

Realizing your self-worth is important. Self-worth can really make or break a persons personality. Always know that you are worthy of respect. And also, never compare yourself to others.

2. Courage

Be courageous in life. Life has so many opportunities so do not be scared to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. You have the ability to do anything you have your heart and mind set to do, even the things that frighten you.

3. Enough

When you are feeling down and feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough, know that you are more than enough. And yes there is always room for improvement but when it comes to my self-worth I always have to remind myself that I am enough.

4. Blessed

Be thankful. A lot of times we forget how blessed we are. We focus so much on stress and the bad things that are going on in our lives that we tend to forget all of the beautiful things we have in life.

5. Focus

Focus on your goals, focus on positive things, and focus on the ones you love. Do not focus on things that will keep you from not reaching your goals and people that do not have good intentions for your life.

6. Laugh

Laughing is one of the best forms of medicine. Life is truly better with laughter.

7. Warrior

Through the good and the bad you are a warrior. Be strong, soldier.

8. Seek

Seek new things. Allow yourself to grow in life. Do not just be stuck.

9. Faith

During the bad times, no matter the circumstances, have faith that everything will be all right.

10. Live

Start living because life is honestly way too short. Live life the way you want to live. Do not let anyone try to control you.

11. Enjoy

Enjoy everything that life has to offer. Enjoy even the littlest of things because, as I said before, life is short. And plus, there is no time to live life with regrets.

12. Believe

Believe in yourself and never stop. Believing in yourself brings so many blessings and opportunities in your life.

13. Serendipity

A lot of times we look for things to fill an empty void that we have. Usually what we are looking for comes when we are not looking at all. Your serendipity will come.

14. Create

Share your ideas with the world. Creativity brings change to your life. However you chose to use your creativity do not be scared to show your intelligence, talent, and passion.

15. Love

The world is already full of so much hate, so love unconditionally with all your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Tanveer Naseer

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The Path To Self Love

It's a beautiful and hard journey but the reward is so worth it

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Like many of us, I tend to rely on other people and their opinions way more than my own. Stopping that? It's easier said than done but it's possible. You'll never fully be able to stop caring about what other people think but you can care a little less. How?

Building up your self-worth and confidence. That task is probably one of the hardest ones that I've ever had to tackle and am still figuring out.

Loving yourself can mean so many different things but at the end of the day it really means just being able to be your own happiness. So many people rely on others for happiness instead of themselves. That's just not it. We do this to ourselves but what happens when that person or group of people leave us? Then our happiness that was revolved around being with them is all gone. I've learned this life lesson the hard way and while it hurt like hell, I needed that. I had to learn that if I can't be happy by myself then I'll never fully be happy.

Sydney Mergler

Now, I know body positivity is becoming a thing right now but that doesn't change the fact that people still don't always feel one-hundred percent confident in their body. I personally have been struggling with my body image for years and finally have started to work on it for me. Not because I hate my body now, but because I want to get fit for me. It's been a struggle figuring this out and it's taken me years but I finally know what my end goal is and am working towards that. I know it's going to take me a while to reach it but at least I'm working towards a goal now and loving it at the same time. In fact, I feel so much more confident because of it.

Toxic friendships? Just break them. Do yourself a favor and don't dread on it, just drop them. You don't need the extra headache or drama. Life is hard enough as it is but having friends who are negative, disrespectful or just only look out for themselves makes it ten times harder. I'm not sorry for the friends I've dropped because if they really had wanted to keep the friendship, they would've treated me better.

Sydney Mergler

Over-apologizing? Just no. Let's not do that. For what? If you don't mean it, don't say it. There is no reason to apologize for something you either don't think needs to be apologized or you don't feel bad for. In the past, I used to apologize for every little thing and it drove me crazy.

On my path to self love, I've learned so much about myself already and I can't wait to learn more. I've learned I missed music, missed writing, enjoy yoga and other forms of exercise and so many other things. I've stopped holding on to things and people that aren't good for me and have started to let go of the past. Loving yourself can be a real challenge but at the end of the day it's the best thing you can do for yourself. You can't ever expect anyone to love you either in a romantic way or friend way without loving yourself. If you can't see the beauty in yourself how can you expect others to?

Sydney Mergler

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