I was sitting with a writer/artist friend the other day in a diner. We were having lunch and discussing the projects we are both working on. We have known each other for a number of years through the writer’s club we both belong to. But neither of us has had the chance to really learn about each other on a one-to-one basis.
We were talking about our childhoods, and we seemed to have many things in common: such as abusive parents. She asked me if my family were such ogres because of my albinism. I said, “No.” They were just ogres and did not need excuses to be so. She then made a statement that was yet another weird belief that people have about albinism. One I had never heard before. And I thought I had heard them all.
She regarded me and said that she thought albinos were people with white hair, lashes, and eyebrows. I could make no sense of that statement. Why on Earth would someone think that? What did that mean? Saying albinos are people with white hair is like saying dogs stand 13 inches high. How do you respond to that?
I pondered it for a day before I realized what she had just revealed to me. In her world, albinos were included among White people. No one else existed. What she thought, and what she was likely taught was that people with albinism had “normal” skin: normal meaning Caucasian; but had white hair. That leaves out any and all dark-skinned races.
By making this statement she revealed the world many people in America live in. It’s a narrow world; a fenced in world; a world where Whites are the norm and everyone else is considered “other.”
The woman who made this statement is not Caucasian. But like all of us, she has been bombarded by media images of blond-haired, blue-eyed people, and told that this is what most people look like. In fact, Blond-haired, blue-eyed people are not only a minority, they are the result of a recessive gene.
I wonder if anyone has done a paper or a study on this type of misconception. I would love to see this analyzed.