Tag Archives: white privilege

“white privilege”

white privilege

whites assume me to be one of their own,
though i am a woman born and raised in Turkey
the melanin in my skin is quite light, you see . . .

my birthplace – geographically speaking,
a Eurasian country, gave me a bubble of safety
life was all about parental and sibling love for me there
my extended family contributed to the gentle joys
of many an unforgettable daily affair

not even once did i have the need to tell anyone that i want to live
i just lived, and was let be

Black Turks / Turkish Blacks?
i had not heard about them much,
other than those who were celebrated on stage;
theater actors / actresses and ballet dancers, that is
a true fan of Black musicians i was in my teenage-years

nothing substantial was to be found
in those school books of Turkey’s yesteryear
i discovered the centuries-long plight
the Black population endured in the U.S. of A
from a multitude of outside sources in print
and thus, knew way back then
that awareness needed to be raised
for discrimination in any form and shape and to any extent;
not staying silent in the face of injustice and inequality was a must
that none of us should ever allow anyone to willfully pretend
how ‘everything is just fine and dandy’ while racism is blatantly praised

so, a few pieces of information were gathered
as acquired by this “white” person, privileged at birth
who was objectifying the subject right from the start,
incapable of grasping the brutal reality
which routinely hit Blacks people hardest globally

but hey,
i was ready for an intellectual discussion . . .

what a hypocrisy!

following my formal early education,
i perused several volumes on the Ottoman Empire
the horror of what the Black Eunuchs had to survive
turned for me into a recurring nightmare,
haunting me for many a year
most of them were castrated
when they were assigned to provide
private services in the Harem of the Sultans 

i had lived inside a safe bubble, as i said initially
hence, that uncovered segment of the pre-Republic Turkish history
left me in an overpowering shock
such historical accounts had been, after all,
dismissed predominantly all along
it must have been vital to help us, the modern-day Turks,
to continue to proudly gild our precious fame
as a nation of humility,
grace and hospitality . . .

decades later, a name crossed my path:
activist and poet Mustafa Olpak
he was talking about “Dana Bayramı”,
“a traditional Afro-Turkish Spring Festival”
at my advanced age, i had come to hear first-hand finally
how Black people struggled to preserve at least a part of their past
in my otherwise beloved birth-country
some were held as slaves between the 14th and 20th century,
suffering under the Ottoman regime’s fire;
others, as Mr. Olpak said, “ascended into rank” within that empire

as we all are aware,
power structures come and go
that is the call
one day, each of them will fall
the oppressed survive them despite it all,
and cultural accounts in the likes of Mr. Olpak’s,
thankfully, take hold

still . . .

as a “white” woman of Turkey, i am in despair
because for this horrifying shame, there is no repair
going through all kinds of emotions,
i am desperate to spread the word,
for whatever it might be worth

in my concluding thoughts,
i am reminded of a profound Tolstoy-quote:
“I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself.”

looking back, way back, as well as viewing my here and now
one dominating fact surrounds my entire life, and it remains intact:
no one ‘caused me any evil but myself’

not even once did i have the need to tell anyone that i want to live
i just lived, and was let be

because i am being seen as “a white”, you see . . .

~ ~ ~
This poem was included in I Want to Live, an international anthology published on March 1st, 2021 by Inner Child Press, AKA Inner Child Press International.

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