I don’t understand white women.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Here in Ireland, I’ve had good female friends of ALMOST every race: Black, fellow Latinas, Middle-Eastern, Indian, Asian. All good experiences, with varying levels of proximity, but no complaints and no frustration. There are some I’ve lost touch with over the years, and some I’m still talking to, but there was no drama. It was chill. It was nice.

Was my friendship with them a piece of cake? Well, no. It never is, regardless of who you’re friends with. Friendship takes work. Sometimes there are misunderstandings, or things that get lost in translation — this is ESPECIALLY TRUE in my life due to the cultural differences, with how diverse my circles can get. 9 times out of 10 though, unless you really did something undeniably unforgivable, a friend from another culture will give you the benefit of the doubt, as well as an opportunity to explain yourself and try and see what (if anything) got lost in translation. It’s a given… unless you’re dealing with a white woman. Or at least, that is MY experience. It could be the case I’m just unlucky, and if so, please point that out to me.

The impression I get though, is that white women are MERCILESS. When all is good and well, things work out. But if there is as much as a tiny conflict or misunderstanding, they turn their back on you forever and ever without thinking twice. And no amount of reaching out, empathising, or even BEGGING has any effect whatsoever. (I no longer beg, as I’m no longer a people-pleaser, and honestly this isn’t even tied to race, I would have done that to literally any friend but I simply didn’t NEED to go to that extreme with anyone who is non-white).

A wee note here on the meaning of race:

This is a very complex thing to define and it’s no wonder Sociologists often specialise on it. If it was simple, nobody would be studying race in Academia. So I won’t pretend to fully know all the nuances of its meaning, but just for the sake of writing this article, here is the [potentially imperfect] meaning I am using:

Human “race” is the set of physical features you were born with, which connect you with a specific group of people according to public opinion.

It is not scientific or exact. It is not a 2+2=4 deal; It’s a social, biased, psychologically entrenched definition. And as such, it WILL change depending on where you go — because the public changes depending on where you are. The people around you won’t think, speak, and behave the same way in New York and Tokyo, for example. It’s a different context.

This is to say: you aren’t “white”, “black”, “Asian” or whatever because DNA said so. Chances are if you’re white in a Latin country, you won’t be white in Britain, as the British white people look whiter than you. Chances are if you’re Asian in the US but you’re actually half European and it shows, if you go to Korea, they won’t mistake you for a local. Etc.

For me, specifically: in the entirety of South America, I am read as white. Here in Ireland, I am “clearly Latina”. And if this had anything to do with DNA, I’d be only 40% Iberian, all else is Germanic. But my looks (which are visible; instead of the invisible code hidden in my blood) are what dictate people’s perception of my race. People are superficial, they go by looks in order to make judgements. And we aren’t studying an exact science when we talk about race. We’re studying people’s judgement.

I hope it’s clear.

“But Meron, maybe it’s just xenophobia because you aren’t FROM Ireland”

No. Objectively, no.

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

When I say Black, Asian, etc… I’m not talking about immigrants, necessarily. Sure, some are; but some aren’t. European citizens aren’t “all white”, and this isn’t any news, by the way. There are Medieval accounts of non-white Europeans, for crying out loud.

If you’re surprised, let me surprise you even more: I’m not just talking about people who “on paper” are “technically Irish” (because they have a passport or whatever). No. I have non-white friends who have a perfectly local accent, went to local schools, haven’t ever even VISITED the country some of their ancestors hail from, and fully belong here. I didn’t go looking for them just to make a statement. Our friendship happened organically. They’re a common sight here.

The only difference between these locals VS white locals is the fact they’re multicultural (and often bilingual). Believe it or not, when you’re fully integrated into the local culture, that doesn’t prohibit you from still having parents or grandparents who came from overseas and are proud of their native heritage. So as a result, yes, maybe you’ll have an Irish accent, prefer tea over coffee, play camogie and enjoy some trad on the radio… But AT THE SAME TIME it’s still possible to sort of know cultural references from, Idk, a Bollywood movie your parents love, or a cultural saying related to a specific food.

And this phenomenon outlined above makes a WORLD of difference when it comes to your core beliefs and values. It can change your biases around certain topics, or influence the way you relate to other people, if compared to, say, someone who is also a local but whose great-great-great grandparents were all white.

Food, language, music, dress codes… these are all superficial cultural things. I don’t think they cause the problem I’ll talk about in this article. I’m referring to something that runs way, way, way deeper and is a lot harder to detect, let alone learn or adapt to: unspoken social cues.

You see, for some reason, people have this wrong idea that “we might look different and have different [superficial] cultural traditions all over the globe, but deep down we’re all the same”. It’s a nice sentiment, and I WISH it was true but… No, it isn’t. Sorry. Culture doesn’t stop at visible things. Culture can also be invisible and inaudible. It can be in a very subtle gesture you make when you’re talking (am I right, Italians?) which others around you can’t relate to, a knee-jerk reaction to certain subjects or situations which your parents subconsciously taught you but other people around you can’t relate to, or, yes, your most basic ideas of “common sense”, “etiquette”, “courtesy” can actually not be that obvious to everyone because in fact they’re cultural.

“But Meron, why are you saying white? Aren’t you just talking about the Irish?”

No.

I’ve had the exact same difficulty to maintain (haha, “maintain”, I wish I had that problem! First I’d need to MAKE) friendships with literally any white women here. Irish, Scottish, English, French, German, American, you name it. Whenever they hail from an all-white (or, let’s be generous, even PREDOMINANTLY white) family background, it seems as though it never works out between us. It’s weird.

And by friendship, I mean some sort of proximity. I’m not saying they’re rude or whatever, no, quite the opposite in fact. But come on, I’m not setting the bar that low. A friend is a FRIEND, not just a polite person. If there’s zero vulnerability and trust between us, sweetie, you’re just a nice stranger to me. I don’t care how much you smiled or made me tea. I mean, so do restaurant staff if I pay them. I’m not impressed.

Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

Every single time I try to deepen (aka go beyond “stranger” level) the relationship with white women even a tiny bit, she gets hurt and labels me obnoxious or worse. Not instantly, but eventually it does happen. Every time. It’s like there is no safe way to share a personal problem I’m going through or a happy childhood memory or whatever because that makes me “too much”. There’s no safe level of proximity with white women for them to be comfortable with sharing something with me themselves, either. The only safe thing is to forever stay on the shallow, treating them like I treat literally anyone I see on the streets and will never meet again. But among themselves, they seem to make friends. So… what’s going on exactly?

I mean, I get having boundaries. I have mine, you have yours, that’s totally cool with me. But what ARE your boundaries, white women? I’m genuinely curious, I’m open to literally any answer and I won’t judge it. The problem is, none of you have ever told me, ever even hinted at an answer for that question. So… how can I know? The way I see it, you’re 100% made of ice-cold impenetrable boundaries. There’s no room for letting me in, or asking me to let you in, even a tiny bit. So there comes a point when this excessive amount of boundaries just becomes a fortress nobody is supposed to ever explore. In which case… fair enough. Seriously, fair enough. I said I won’t judge, and I stand by my promise. If you tell me you actually dislike proximity with other women, and all you need in life is a partner and a family, fair enough. I just would love to KNOW if that is the case. I’m curious. I, personally, couldn’t even imagine a life where I’m purposefully pushing potential friends away all the time; but that’s ME. You’re allowed to be different.

Perhaps I’m totally mistaken, in which case, cool. But I’d like to KNOW whether or not that’s the case. Because where I stand at the moment, I feel lost. Like if I were trying to decipher a language nobody can help me learn, but every white woman punishes me for not reading fluently. It’s frustrating.

And what’s even more frustrating is the fact you guys don’t see yourselves as a group. There is no such thing as cultural social cues from Europe, as far as you’re concerned, am I right? White women often individualise their experiences like “oh, I’m just a person in the world, just an individual” — okay but… you’re human. You’re not a machine. Every human has cultural influence. You have cultural influence, even if you don’t realise it, or see it as the norm or common sense or whatever. There’s no such thing as universal common sense. The very concept of common sense is a cultural thing, it’s subjective, mutable, it depends on what each group agrees on. Do you realise that? Can you at least entertain that possibility?

Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash

“It’s racism, Meron. Give up”.

That’s what some would say, I suppose. Or alternatively, consider me naive for not jumping the gun like that. Well, okay, feel free.

It’s just not part of my nature to judge things at face value. And admittedly, yes, sometimes I don’t judge when I should have, and learn the lesson the hard way. But the thing is… I like learning this lesson the hard way. Let me.

The same people who mock me for refusing to perceive “the obvious” are the ones who get surprised when I make a breakthrough discovery they couldn’t even dream of. And that, too, is quite obvious: when you forever stay in the comfort zone, on the beaten track, you can’t possibly end up where nobody has been… Because it’s the beaten track. It’s commonplace. It’s easy and comfortable, but it won’t answer anything new.

I’m not actually innocent or gullible like a child. I’m just daring to explore where “angels fear to tread” if you will. And sometimes, it pays off.

So, I’ll give white women the benefit of the doubt here, and listen without judgement.

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Meron Nic Cruithne

Meron Nic Cruithne

Meron is a psychic and spirit worker based in Ireland. She talks to the dead around her, especially the Picts. Please read her pinned post before any other.