Where racism was hiding

I dare me to walk the aisles of the nearest Grocery Store
or Big Pharmacy
With eyes wide open
This is where racism was hiding

In the makeup aisle, beiges and pinks masquerade as “normal” tones
In the hair products aisle, all the hair is fine or straight
or thick or curly, not tightly curled either
All the heads on the boxes are smiling white women with European hair,
And Ivory Soap is 99.9% pure

In the health products aisle, beige Band-Aids are “flesh” colored
They are manufactured that way
To escape notice on white people’s skin
But it’s a glaring shade of pale on everyone else’s skin

In the food aisle, Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima still look like house slaves despite the makeovers
Quaker Oats sports the white-haired kindly face of an extreme religious sect
That eschewed violence but would not fight for abolition
Knowing that cruel and bloody traditions will be upheld by cruel and bloody means.

In the cereal aisle, Rice Krispies Snap Crackle and Pop with little white mascots
Lucky Charms leprechaun clicks his hat at
Trix’s white rabbit while the
Keebler’s elves workplace could use some diversity
Good Gaia, even Count Chocula is white – granted he’s a vampire, but still…

In the toy aisle, superheroes are white
Their secret identities safe performing jobs not offered to blacks
No fear of being pulled over and arrested just as they get their costumes on
Crayola crayons label their golden rod pinkish hue “flesh” as well

Renaming as Pervasively Caucasian
Your basic Grocery Store
Like an undeserved Manifest Destiny, it’s baked right in
Leaving indelible marks right behind your eyelids
So like even blinking won’t work

Eyes wide open in a pitiless stare that cracks
my thin veneer of pride and exposes
white privilege underlying brands and mascots and
the images blaring from the boxes stacked high on the shelves
This is where racism was hiding

Published by Ms. C. G. Tripp

Catherine G. Tripp, Writer/Investor a lifelong mix. Left brain and right brain battle for dominance. I wrote the marketing materials for my mortgage brokerage, had a personal finance column at Examiner.com, wrote essays, short stories and poems published in school papers and magazines then literary journals. If my writings were a color, they would be yellow, bright as sunlight, highlighting the salient portions, not obscuring the past but deconstructing air brushed stories, finding humor and courage in the unloved corners.

3 thoughts on “Where racism was hiding

  1. I admit that I struggle with this. It is too easy to place blame on the minutiae and detritus of “back when”. Of course there is shame and acknowledged asking for forgiveness in so many ways. How much needs to be vilified? Everything? Some things? The destruction of historical monuments? Where does this all stop and how do we begin again? “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”


    1. I too struggle, my friend, and hope that by noticing, then writing, of so many examples of “norms” that smack of patriarchy and a blithely assumed racial superiority I can lead myself and others to question the version of history that we are taught.


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