Posted inEditor's Pick

White Men

Namwali Serpell | Topic | June 6, 2017 | 1,300 words

What do we get from our parents? An inheritance always comes with a tax. This essay is part of new collaboration with our friends at Topic.

Posted inEssays & Criticism, Nonfiction, Story

White Men

What do we get from our parents? An inheritance always comes with a tax.
Illustrations by Lauren Tamaki

Namwali Serpell | Topic | June 2017 | 5 minutes (1,300 words)

Our latest Exclusive is an essay by Namwali Serpell with illustrations by Lauren Tamaki. This story is co-funded by Longreads Members and published in collaboration with Topic, which publishes an original story, every other week. Sign up for Topic’s newsletter now.

White men, white men, white men. They’re everywhere these days. Young ones leering, old ones Lear-ing. A white man sent me a message on a dating app the other day—an initial parry, if you will, a hello—about his penis, my fully-clothed photo, and my presumed “submissiveness.” An older white male colleague once told me he didn’t understand the “ontological difference” I had experienced in being a brown woman. The same man sexually harassed me for three years. There are white men to kill left and right. It would be so much easier to hate them if I hadn’t loved one from birth.

My father is a white man. In my country Zambia, where he moved as a young Brit eager to conduct research, he’s called a muzungu. He met and married my black mother there in the sixties. They made brown me, and my two brown sisters. We moved to the States in 1989. Maybe it’s because my family was already mixed, or because we now lived in the American suburbs, but it never felt weird to me to date white guys.

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