I never fully understood what it meant to be under the White Microscope until I moved, precisely a year ago, to a small, rural Canadian town. Originally from Toronto, the White Microscope wasn’t something I previously experienced because there were a lot of Black mothers before me, and a lot of Black mothers will surely come after.
But in my small town, to see a Black mother was somewhat of a spectacle where in a town of 100,000 only 1% were Black, according to census. Whenever I left my house, I felt the eyes probing and judging. My son, a typically boisterous 2 year old prone to occasional temper tantrums and toddler behaviour, acts out in public sometimes.
And I find myself shrinking in horror at any slight disturbance he might incur from crying to unwrapping a Kinder egg at the grocery store checkout. It is not that my son is a terrible child, but under the White Microscope, every action, every splash of chocolate milk on his shirt or stray hair is met with inimical disapproval and reprove. I am not a perfect mother, nor is my son a cherub; and to step out of the house and face the White Microscope is extremely disheartening.
The White Microscope may exist for you too. Whether you are a Black employee at a white dominated job, a Black soldier in the army or one of few Black children in a predominantly white high school or university, you will notice the White Microscope. It is there to judge you, shame you or use you as amusing entertainment and hold you up to the Perfect White Standard to show you exactly how you fall short. The microscope might be invisible, but if our colour is the elephant in the room, then it is our leash.
I’m tired of the White Microscope. I want to leave my house without my hair perfectly poised, praying my son will be quiet and well-behaved at the library or the doctor’s office, and not glaring at him angrily when he acts like a toddler. I really want to glare at you, hiss at you and put you in timeout until you learn we are all imperfect beings, regardless of skin colour, and everyone deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt.