Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
My Blog

They All Look Alike (White People, That Is)

I am gripped by the growing realization of the influence of norms in my life.
    I'm white, born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. I now live in Hempstead, New York, on Long Island. The neighborhood I live in is majority nonwhite: AfricanAmerican, Latino, Filipino, Indian, Asian. Mostly, when I look around me, I see nonwhite, non-European faces. These have been my neighbors for 23 years.
     Then I watch something on Netflix, like the amazing movie Beasts of No Nation. Almost everyone in that movie is African, very dark-skinned, with the facial features typically associated with black people (tightly curled hair, broader noses, fuller lips). Everybody in that movie looks perfectly normal to me.
      And I watch a show like the British TV mystery series Midsomer Murders. I enjoy that show, yet I find myself struggling to distinguish one character from another. All the women seem to be blond or not-very-dark brunette, with extremely similar haircuts, and they look so alike that I can't remember which one is whose wife. All the young men look so similar that I have to look at each character's clothing to place him for certain. All the middle-aged men have the same sort of jowls, though they look less similar to each other than the young men do.
     The confounding thing is that I look a lot more like the British folk than like my neighbors! Yet I don't identify with how the British folk look.
     I must explore this phenomenon of what appears normal much more deeply.

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