White Privilege: Lesson No. 2

An unpleasant encounter at Equinox

This really should have been Lesson No. 1.

I’m registered at Equinox — the appropriately priced gym of champions.

Everyone looks hot, sounds hot and acts accordingly. It’s a social club for those who have the money to spare.

I have never been in a position where money was readily accessible but I was working in corporate America — and one of the perks is the ability to cycle with the best of them.

I chose the deal of all deals. I could walk inside any of the local and out-of-state branches and retain my right to be treated as if I could run the world with just the scan of my fingertips.

This luxury of options always came in handy whenever the night before proved to be an excursion of grand proportions.

I could skip over to the location on 85th and 3rd and energetically sweat it out.

On this particular day — I was really hurting and needed to be in a zone. You know what I mean. Completely abandoned to my vices without any interference.

Older white women are a little on the crazy side. I try my best to limit necessary interaction but that was an impossible feat whenever I ventured into my immaculate playground nestled in the Upper East Side.

I had to dodge, fake smile and share space with them. For the most part I was able to contently navigate through this mandate.

Thank God for headphones and Drake.

While going all in on the trusted arc trainer on a day that was colder than Antarctica — my runny nose — responding to the change from cold to wonderfully warm — messing up my flow. (no pun intended)

I reached for the fluffy white towel and took care of business. Like a lady.

Ah. That’s better!

The white woman working out next to me immediately threw me the most disgusted look. She proceeded to firmly scold me about how trite it was for me to use the towels that people like her use to wipe my disgusting snot.

The audacity. The bravery of this old woman who was white to say such things to a black woman who is a complete stranger.

She never considered the fact that I could’ve been crazier than her.

Only a white woman would ever have the gall to do this.

I concluded that she was crazier than I could ever hope to be as I watched her eyes bounce to the tempo of her words.

It was a very quick insult that was handed with authority and self-absorbence.

My instinct was to curse her out and include phrases like “white bitch” “crazy bag lady” or “you white folks really think you own every corner of the world”.

Instead — I calmly took deep breaths and accepted the fact that crazy old white ladies are inescapable and as a young black woman — I needed to continue to work out my body and soul.

But I was pissed. How dare this woman talk to me like that. How dare she think that she could because she was white and I was a bad-mannered black girl — who was obviously incapable of using the facilities in a respectful way. So she had to school me.

How very white of her.

It was unblack of me not to retaliate. Most black women would have showed her the other side of things. But I chose the high road.

What would be the point? White privilege isn’t a disease — it’s a basic trait that can’t be helped.

Besides, old white women scare me. If I had to pick my battles — that’s one I am willing to run away from.


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