by Kennedy Clark
Generally speaking, parties and going out in college are a time to de-stress, to get dolled up, to spend time with friends and to let loose. It involves substances, showing skin, and stunted inhibitions.
And no, girls don’t dress for guys. But we fret over the tightness of our skirts, the quality of the curls in our hair, the symmetry of our eyeliner and the fleekness of our eyebrows. We want to look hot. We want to feel attractive. We want to feel desirable. And so when you’re a black female, in order to maintain the hotness, the sexiness, the attractiveness you’ve just spent thirty minutes attempting to achieve, its integral that you do not attend a white party. Because here your sexiness, your attractiveness, your worthiness is diminished. Only moderately drunk white girls will glance your way as they push past you to the guy who wants to dance with her because she fits so neatly and nicely into a box of conventional beauty. She was not born with features she will be ridiculed for in elementary school. And you are reminded that your curly kinky hair isn’t beautiful. Long, straight, blonde, and brown hair is, especially when its artificial ringlets will naturally straighten in the morning. No one wants your dark skin, they want a thin nose of pale flesh. She will not be told her hair is ugly and problematic and in need of change from birth. Her parents will not wish she was of lighter complexion, knowing her life will be easier that way, that she will be thought of prettier that way, that she will harbor more self-worth that way.
And the above is what you are reminded of every time you so much as think of a white party. These implications are attached. You think of the amount of times boys look through you and around you to the girls of lighter complexion. You think of the inevitable feeling of invisibility you will take on. You are not at the same party. You are in a room, surrounded by people who don’t look like you, whose beauty has been placed on a pedestal above yours for centuries. And so instead you feel small, and rejected. You are not approached, not noticed, you are passed over.
And when you are approached, you are a last resort of the guys you have seen be rejected by other girls. Or you are a fetishized fantasy that reinforces the jezebel stereotypes that still plague your race. And you know this because you are grabbed at the waist by these boys, these drunken boys who no longer have filters for their thoughts of their words or their actions. These boys who wrap you in their arms and rock side to side, too drunk to be in sync with the rhythm and the beat. But bared thighs and midriffs aren’t enough, they will snake their hands into bras and panties. But you must want this. Before you were alone and ignored, but now you are not. Now you are an object of fetishized desire. Maybe this is normal? And if not, why is this happening to you? What did you do to trigger this? Maybe you are too sexy? Maybe your dancing was too sexy? But that’s bound to happen when you have to hold your own for hours at a party, and feign fun and feign being okay with feeling unwanted. You think maybe the wandering handing will stop, but they don’t. So you leave, and you no longer feel like dancing, and partying, and permanently third wheeling. And nobody cares, because you just tagged along, because you wanted to go out tonight, like all the other girls and their close groups of friends but you didn’t want to go alone. And you say goodbye to your friends, who don’t understand why you aren’t having fun, but are too drunk to really care because they are with boys who they feel mutually attracted to and respected by.
And on your way home, snowballs hit your back flung from drunken white frat boys on the streets. The moisture sinks into the hair that you spent time and your parents hard earned money straightening. You plan to wake up early to re-straighten it. To make it thinner and more brittle and unhealthy in the name of being pretty. But you want to look pretty, because more boys will approach you at parties, you will have more fun, you won’t be glanced over but gazed upon. But for the time being you quicken your pace and walk coatless and shivering to your residence. And you feel inappropriate and unwanted. But tonight was “fun, right? Going out is “fun”. White parties are “fun”, right? Because people go to them all the time, and they have “fun”. So you probably were just uptight, and not drunk enough, or in a bad mood. And all you really know for sure when you turn out the lights, is that you weren’t white, and they resembled enough whiteness for “fun”.
And so going to a white party, generally doesn’t have the same results for all party goers. For some it devalues and diminishes as they stand in line, subjected to sexism and judgement from yelling obnoxious boys . And not everyone is racist, or judgmental, or prejudice, but experiences differ. And and unfortunately at this university, they are rarely positive for certain individuals. I want to party as much as you do, but I also want to do it with friends and peers who WANT me there, who are looking out for my emotional and physical and psychological well being. But to tag along, to not third wheel, means the chances of being alone, and under the influence on dark streets filled with taunts of unknown men are higher. Because going out becomes a vulnerable time as a woman of color, and I understand that not everyone can understand or realize this. And I apologize for the length, because: homework. But I thought maybe the next time you give out a half-assed invite, or a wholehearted one, and get an unenthusiastic or hesitant reply, you will have some understanding of why.