Recently, we read the novel Quicksand by Nella Larsen, and it makes me think a lot. Helga Crane, whose father is an African American and whose mother a white, was socially recognized as black and thus suffers various discriminations. Those things have a deep impact in her life and make her move from place to place. Being both disappointed by the monotony of the school where she teaches in—Naxos and by all kinds of inequalities and discriminations she suffers in the society, she moved to Denmark, hoping to escape all those. In Denmark, things seem to be better. Although the predominant white people there still look at her in a strange way, there do not exist those inequalities and discriminations which are widespread in the US. However, when a white man proposes to her, she refused, largely due to the fact that intermarriage between black and white are considered “inappropriate” in the society. Although she is in Danmark, she still has such kind of concerns. With no love and hoping for a sense of belonging, she ultimately moves back to the US and married to an African American priest.
After reading the story, I am shocked by the extent to which whiteness in society can influence a person’s life. Being a white, one can have all the privileges while being a black only means inequalities. The pressure of whiteness can have such a huge impact on an African American’s life, as the case of Helga Crane, whose life has been greatly influenced by whiteness—having to move around just to avoid those inequalities and having to refuse a marriage simply because the it will look weird in the society.
When speaking of whiteness and the “superiority” of white people, one recent photo caught my attention. It depicts President Trump meeting with a bunch of leaders from traditionally black colleges and universities in the oval office while Kellyanne Conway, the White House counsellor, sit on her legs on a couch playing with her phone. It just makes me feel uncomfortable and it instantly shows Conway’s disrespect toward African American. It’s a common custom and show of politeness and respect to stand up when meeting with such important people, not to mention being in the oval office. The problem of race is a serious issue in the US, and I can’t believe that some people can treat this with this kind of casualness. The photo further shows that the problem of whiteness still exist in the society, not only in daily situations but also in the government, and there is long way to go to eradicate this.