Mid-way of the second stanza in the poem “What Would I Do White?” by June Jordan, Jordan paints an image of what it would be like to live like a white person and how she would act.
I would forget my furs on any chair.
I would ignore the doormen at the knob
the social sanskrit of my life
unwilling to disclose my cosmetology
I would forget.
As I read her poem, I thought to myself, as a 20-year-old female, who is culturally associated with the Latinx and Black community, what do I think of when I think of a white individual? What do I think of when I am at a store and I am followed around because of the assumption that I might steal because I am Hispanic and Black and am most likely am to be poor? What do I think of when I am asked for a bag check at an inexpensive store like Walmart or Dollar Tree and everyone else in the store who is white, isn’t asked the same question? What do I think of when it is 2019 and I, unfortunately, HAVE to think about those incidents.
The question that I believe would follow the question in her title is, Why would I think about what I would do White? The conversation of race should not be a topic that is up for conversation, at all. I interpreted Jordan’s poem as a form of expressing how much respect white people receive and the freedom that they have for being of a lighter complexion. She uses the word “forget” twice and “ignore,” and because both words relate to one another. Notice that in the paragraph above, where I explained what it is like to be my self, I used the word think six times. To think about something is the opposite of forgetting and I think that that is the idea of what Jordan is proposing. With or without money, white individuals have held privilege over many black individuals throughout history and during the present day.
She is making a statement on not only how she feels and what she would like to feel but, how two individuals who are of the same species and origin are viewed differently and therefore are allowed to act and feel differently.