I am white.
I’m not just a little white. I’m a lot of white.
According to my AncestryDNA results, if there’s a way for a human being to be white, it’s part of the unique cocktail that is me. I am mostly English, a quarter German, a fifth Scotch-Irish, seasoned with Swedish, Russian, French and anyplace else the people are pale.
I am not Elizabeth Warren. I have no claim to a family story of a Native American ancestor. I have nothing that smacks of a minority of any kind in my building blocks. My Minnesota farm girl ethnic dishes involve cream soup casseroles and American cheese. I am that damn white.
But apparently, I don’t understand what it means to feel my whiteness is threatened.
A recent Rasmussen poll found that 44 percent of Republicans believe that white people face more discrimination than any other ethnic group. Eleven percent of Democrats believe that, as do 23 percent of independents.
Reading those numbers during Black History Month surprised me. No, surprise isn’t quite right. It confused me.
There are things that I have been prevented or discouraged or obstructed from doing in my life. There were times that it was because I am a woman. There were times that it was because I was young. Sometimes it was because of money, or because of where I lived.
I have been told that I couldn’t do things because I was Catholic. I have been denied because I stood with friends who are homosexual — but that was more discrimination by association. Had I elected to walk away, to turn my back on them, I am somehow sure my young, white, straight, professional self would have been more than welcome. That made me happy to stand with the excluded.
I have even been discriminated against — even physically assaulted — because I am fat. I understand what it is to be told “no,” to be locked out, to be abused because of what I am.
And yet I am certain that at no point in my life have I suffered because of the millennia of snow white DNA in my genes.
I have not been sold. I haven’t been kidnapped. I was not denied the use of my language. I was not beaten for the simple crime of not being sufficiently broken. My child was not taken away. Neither was my mother.
I was able to trace my family tree across the country and across the sea. I tracked it through time, back to my 65th great-grandfather. The last records I found were in an ancient alphabet I don’t recognize.
My ability to follow those roots doesn’t stop with a receipt and a ship’s manifest. My family’s oral tradition doesn’t stop abruptly because of genocide.
I know where I face discrimination and where I don’t the way I know who I am and where I come from. The first place my family placed foot in America was at Jamestown in 1619. That was the same time and place the first slaves came to this country.
I have no doubt been singled out because of my race in many situations, but to my benefit and quite possibly at someone else’s loss. And if, from time to time, someone has tried to even the playing field, I see it as just that — an attempt to put all the players at the same starting point.
I may face a world of discrimination every day for people who pre-judge me for my job, my home, my beliefs and the way I look.
But I am not losing ground in America because of the color of my skin.
Because I am white.