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November 9, 2013

For Halloween this year, I was a butterfly. If I wanted to go with a truly spooky cosutme here, I could have simply gone as myself, a white girl. Despite my damndest efforts, there are still many toddlers who are terrified of me. The interaction that leads to a toddler dissolving into a puddle of tears, drool, and hysterical howling, is almost always the same, and deeply troubling to me.

A normal encounter goes like this: family sitting on a porch, waves me over.

mother: “Hi. My kid is scared of you. Watch.” The child is then brought out from whatever hiding place they have chosen. One wide-eyed, lip-quivering moment later they break into hysterics. This is where I try to politely excuse myself by saying something super awkward like “Welp, woulda look at the sun, it’s about time to be heading home to nap.”

Why do I even bother politely excusing myself from this kind of humiliation? Part of me is trying to be a bigger person. Part of me just doesn’t know what is appropriate culturally, and a bigger part of me is so hurt and frustrated and angry that all I can think to do in that moment is walk away. I try to laugh and take it in stride. I am one of 2 token white girls in town, and am trying to dutifully to my duty and be the butt of jokes. After 6 constant months of the same joke it gets old. Really Old.

A lot of Peace Corps is trying to figure out just how far we can push the envelope. A large part of me wants to lecture on racism and the ills is does to a society, but then a little voice in my head says “but look at the other white people here”. Old men who travel solo and can be seen sitting with young girls, who are selling the only thing that is truly theirs. Organ Traffickers. Tourists who just want to see an elusive lemur, who care more about animals than the humans who are showing them off. It’s almost excusable. But it still hurts.

So lecturing on racism might be my new coping strategy. But, really, where’s the funny in that?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jarie Castelin permalink
    November 9, 2013 20:41

    Kim, Sorry this does not relate to your post, but think this is a quick way to communicate w you. Do you know the dates you will be in Boise in Jan. I want to changed my cancer checkup at MD Anderson so I am here when you are here! Hugs, Aunt Jarie


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