Cafe Privilege or Why I Don’t Trust White Women Who Don’t Order Coffee When We’re Meeting at a Cafe – A Poem

You had arrived first

Patiently waiting for me

Our meeting began

But you hadn’t ordered coffee

I was confused

Since I knew the score

Without paying the price

They ask you to leave the store

But you sat and you talked

That’s when it got scary.

You exclaimed, “I don’t see colour”

That it wasn’t a worry

I should have known

Right then and there

To keep my mouth shut

I shouldn’t have cared to share

But I took a chance

And brought up the notion

That your ability to sit without buying a thing

Was because of your white complexion

Your demeanor, indignant

And your voice, like ice

“Don’t call me a racist”, you said

“That isn’t nice!”

I never called you that

I began to protest

I’m just pointing out this double standard

To get it off my chest

But you didn’t see

The privilege that you wore

And just like that

You stomped out the door

I sat and I wondered

Just when things went wrong

You and I had a lot in common

We even liked the same songs

But the one thing different

Was what you claimed not to see

The colour of my skin

That claimed my ancestry

I know I’m not poor

Or disabled or gay

I speak the language

And I’m allowed to stay

I know I’m privileged

And have much to repay

But today you proved again

The different rules in play

While I sat stunned

Feeling full of self-pity

The server comes and asked

When I’m buying a coffee

I’m still seen as other

I just have to accept

While drinking my coffee

I silently wept

But you just continued

No hiccup in your step

Then you told everyone

That I was inept

You used your white privilege

To put me in my place

Because I said the price of coffee

Depended on your race

So – if you are a person

Who is truly aware

Of your privilege and whether

Life is really unfair

Be sure to buy coffee

And listen with your heart

In order to end the -isms

That’s where we need to start

This poem was written for Anmol’s prompt at dVerse Poetics to write about privilege. dVerse has had several thought provoking posts: political provocation in poetry and now this one on privilege. It makes me happy and hopeful that they are opening the conversation about these topics. * As of this writing, the link has expired for this prompt! My overthinking has again caused me to miss Mr. Linky! 😢

The poem is also written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Weekly Challenge – Color (or as Patrick would say “Colour”). The issue of privilege, race and racism isn’t just based on ethnicity (a person’s cultural background – whether it’s based on religion, tradition or ancestral location) or nationality (the country of one’s passport) but the actual color of one’s skin. Even within communities of color, talking about “colorism” – the fact that light skinned POC have some of the white privilege that darker skinned POC don’t have – is a difficult conversation.

This poem is based on a true incident that happened to me a few weeks ago. The white woman who I was speaking with effectively damaged my reputation because of a disagreement regarding politics and race. Despite saying she wasn’t racist, her behavior indicated otherwise and I don’t think she was even aware of this. I carry the burden of this interaction. No matter the privileges I have (whether born with it like being physically able or earned like my education and financial status), here in the USA, it is what people see that often times determines their behavior.

One last note – Björn’s post about provocation in poetry inspired the title of this poem. Before anyone gets into a huff – I don’t mistrust all White Women – just the racists ones who don’t order coffee when meeting in a cafe.

©️ iido 2019

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31 thoughts on “Cafe Privilege or Why I Don’t Trust White Women Who Don’t Order Coffee When We’re Meeting at a Cafe – A Poem

  1. wow you and Paul have knocked this topic out of the park!
    Anyone who has to declare that they are NOT racist, ageist, sexist, etc ARE. The genuine people who don’t see the difference wouldn’t even think to say so ….
    So sorry you had this experience, she is really not worth getting upset about. She has the problem, not you …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for that validation. It still upsets me that someone who I thought was a becoming a friend behaved in that way. I really like what they are doing in Australia about recognizing the indigenous peoples and the effects of colonialism on culture there. What do you think about that?

      Liked by 1 person

      • She was never going to be a friend, she was arrogant enough to think you would be desperate enough to accept any crumb she might throw you 😦
        I volunteer weekly with our First Australians and have no idea what you are hearing overseas but here nothing is moving at all … our government has failed to bring their conditions into the last century let alone this one … so maybe you are just hearing propaganda …

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, you addressed a hot topic. I watched several videos on Youtube like this one (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ&t=4s) that made me think I have many privileges for simply growing up in another country. My mother once said to me that even if you’re born in America, other people will recognize you to be foreign first. It made me think for some time. I have a friend who I love deeply. Because of the lens that she views life through, it’s difficult for her to recognize certain things. It’s happened to me in other settings.

    Like

    • Yes, I’ve seen that exercise video. It is hard being Asian American because they do always ask you “where are you from” and they always look confused when I say “New York”, as if I can’t look the way I do AND be from the US. I’m sorry it’s happened to you too.

      As for friends, I have lost friends because of this issue. I’ve reached my limit with “friends” who are ignorant of this and don’t want to educate themselves – I would have thought they would considering our friendship but, nope! Awareness is a huge first step but it’s the “What Do You do about it?” That really matters. Hugs to you my friend! ❤️

      Like

  3. Pingback: Entangled ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #176 – Pix to Words

  4. Ah! I might not order anything because I’d be waiting for you to join me before I order. It’s a habit, at least in Slovenia. I’d need an hour to even get what the issue is. My privilege is so thick that I can’t see injustice when it’s in front of my nose.

    Now I’ll say something hilarious: The only worse thing would be if I were a white man.

    HIhihi!

    I suppose joking like that is a sign of my privilege too. :p

    I’m sorry you had this experience but I’m glad you wrote this poem. It gets the point across.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😁😁 Yes, humor is sometimes the only way to respond to these situations! There is nothing wrong with waiting for the other person to arrive before ordering, but I know you would have still ordered something and we would have eaten and drank and enjoyed our meeting.

      I also appreciate your awareness of privilege. It’s a good start! Is Slovenia a more homogeneous country? I know other countries have different reactions to racial issues based on their history with it.

      Liked by 1 person

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