Have you read Herman Melville about the colour white in Moby Dick?


I am white. I have always been white, although my whiteness has been emphasised by five years in Jamaica. When I say I am white, it means that my skin is a Naples yellow brushed with blue veins and ocher blotches and red spots.


I am white. My whiteness had been an undistinguished part of me until my arrival here. I had noticed it walking though the city sometimes, I had a black friend in The Netherlands, but she was not much bothered by her blackness, so my whiteness did not become more visible. There were the newspapers and the television, they attempted to make our world white by looking at the misery of blackness. But the experience of my whiteness was not a tactile one, not a vital part of me. I had been brought up to believe every one equal, and I had assumed that everyone had, and that the world was complicated in other ways.


The aesthetic grouping of people has had me identified with people with whom I have no natural or predisposed affinity, no overt liking or disliking but who, for the simple fact of their visible qualities, become my own. This process describes a force of gravity, whereby you look around you and calculate ratios of presence. Why am I with white people? The meeting of a black man is accompanied by a brave penetration of the shield guarding him. I resent my whiteness putting me into a group that acquires all the characteristics of a personality. I resent have to overcome whiteness and blackness in meeting people who have been claimed by a differnt group-personality.