When My Husband’s White Privilege Comes in Handy
I am business savvy. I have great credit, I’m a military veteran and I know how to responsibly make purchases big and small. However, if I’m at the mercy of other people for what I can have…I am a Black woman and therefore my level of responsibility is not enough. My husband has never really lived on his own. He’s always been able to depend on family and been supported one way or the other. Not me. I’ve had to learn how to do everything on my own and I am now more financially responsible than my own mother and most of the “adults” in my family.
I am currently apartment hunting and I want to live in a nice, quiet neighborhood. I usually end up doing the shopping around and physically going places by myself. My husband is extremely busy with work and doesn’t have the time on my hands that I currently do. I know how I’m perceived, and I need my husband’s white body present when meeting landlords and agents. If I am competing with other people who want the same apartment, they will choose a white couple over me if I show up by myself. Even if I allude to being married, they will assume my husband is Black. Implicit bias is a real thing- even if it’s not intentional. People perceive Black neighbors as bringing the value down in an affluent white neighborhood.
When he shows up, despite the fact that my credit and my savings will be the shining star, they will still want to only speak to him and emphasize everything to him. Although he tries to include me as much as possible, using “we” statements, I am still by and large invisible when it comes to dealing with most white people.
Unfortunately my story is not uncommon. Various studies show that white people with identical financial background are twice as likely to get bank loans as well as housing when they show up in person. [Usually I would cite here but if you don’t believe me, look it up] There are times I’ve walked into an establishment ahead of my husband. I get ignored, but when he walks in, it’s immediately “hi, can I help you?” (smile and all) to which he replies that he’s with me. Or the countless times we’ve traveled together and I think people are speaking to US, but when I add to the conversation, it’s like I said nothing at all and they continue speaking to HIM.
If we’re at a restaurant, when my husband sends food back that’s not right, they are profusely apologetic. If I’m dining alone and send food back that’s not right, I get scoffs and attitude as if I should be lucky they’re even serving me to begin with. I avoid sending food back because I am afraid they will tamper with it. But he’s a customer that they WANT to return.
I will never cease to be astounded at the different ways in which we are treated- often right in front of me. Sometimes I wish I could just shape shift into him so I can take care of some things without the stigma of living in a Black woman’s body.