Whose Turf? On Race and Home Field Advantage.

Every time I write about race I feel awkward. And there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to become “that girl” the talking about race girl all the time, the asking you the hard questions girl all the time, the person you skip on the blog roll on because it is just going to be too heavy.  Don’t her kids do anything funny anymore? If I am really honest I would tell you that I don’t love writing about race because it is too hard to examine my own heart time and time again and find it wanting. But I also feel like I have been seeing with new eyes lately. Some things that I have always known in my head, have worked their way into my heart. I feel like I have prayed for eyes to see and ears to hear, and now it is my responsibility to see, and hear rather than shut my eyes and ears because it just too hard.

I wrote about the birthday party a few days after it happened. So I was more aware of the feelings because I told everyone about them. I noticed again when the dad came to return the chairs they had borrowed. I noticed how easy it was for me. I noticed how relaxed and at ease I was.

I noticed my home field advantage.

I noticed that I feel totally comfortable interacting with people who are different from me as long it is in places I am most comfortable in. My house is my turf. I know the rules, I know the expectations, and if you don’t like it you can leave. It requires very little of me to stay comfortable and anything I do to make you comfortable makes me the benevolent and awesome one. I am good by going out of my way to let you do your thing, and I am the one who gets to “let you” because this is my space.

Everyone knows that the home team has the advantage. The crowd is on the side of the home team, they know the turf, they know what it feels like to play their, they win more often. I’ve been thinking a lot about race and privilege, and always getting to be the home team. I think sometimes that the game is fair, is easy, that everyone still has a fair chance, but that is mostly because I almost always have home field advantage. In fact, it took about two years of me working in a place where I was the minority, where there were certain things I didn’t understand that everyone else viewed as common knowledge, where I was always the odd man out. It took almost two years for me to understand that the world I live in, that most public places are my home turf. Most television shows have people who look like me, most stores carry products are for me, most toy aisles have a ton of baby dolls that look like my kids. I don’t ever have to search at the library for books that represent my family well. Those are the “classics.” I am perpetually living in home field advantage.

I’ve been thinking about what it means, to be diverse, to want diversity, mostly as a white woman (because that is what I am.) All too often what I mean by diversity is I would like other people to come play on my home field. Do I want to go to a more diverse church, YES! Am I willing to go to a church where I am the minority? maybe. I don’t know. It is complicated, I love my church! Do I want a more diverse church, YES! Do I want the service to change so that people would maybe feel like my church was also their home turf? but I like the way things are, that is why I go there. Do I want my daughters to experience a more diverse world? YES! Do I get a teensy bit offended when we visit the kindergarten classroom and there is no baby doll that looks like my kid? Even though I know that she is literally the first white kid in that class? Yeah. It reminds me that this isn’t my home turf and I don’t like it. And this is mostly because I am not used to it. I am not used to this world not functioning around me.

I don’t like this about myself. I don’t want to be uncomfortable when I am “playing away” and I don’t want to quietly sit with this advantage and pretend that things are totally even.

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3 thoughts on “Whose Turf? On Race and Home Field Advantage.

  1. Abby,
    You might not like “this” about yourself, but you have already done what I think is the hardest part. Being honest with yourself and then posting it for the whole world to see?!? That takes some serious guts, girl!
    More importantly though, it offers a perspective that I would assume many white people don’t even recognize or realize is happening all around them (I know I haven’t). This is why I love reading your posts, you don’t just offer opinions on subjects that you have all figured out wrapped in a neat package with a bow on top. You’re writing about important things while still trying to figure out how to respond. It shows your humanness and I love that!

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