Tough being the only White person


So yesterday a person who wanted some information on stuff agrees to meet at an eatery in Otahuhu.

After taking our food orders we sit down to chat. He looks around and I can sense he’s feeling pretty nervous.

Then he says: Geez Efeso I’m the only White person in the place.

I assure him he’s safe and the people around us are some of the coolest people in Auckland. Then commences a gentle but long conversation on unconscious bias and how building relationships with people outside of your cultural norm is a great first step.

As I walked home I started to reflect on the number of times I was, and am the only Brown person in the room – a space so many of us know all too well.

Have a good week.


  1. Buzzzzzzz is the sound that’s made when the joke goes over your head. Especially when the joke is to intelligent for you, my fellow 10 year olds.

  2. It is well known that many night clubs have unofficial non-White quotas. When there are too many non-Whites there, the White people start to leave, and White people usually spend more on drinks. The owners will deny it and come up with excuses of course.

  3. Sometimes you are not conscious that you’re the only white person. You are working in tandem in a group of people who trust one another. Other times it works in different ways. I went to Samoa for Christmas with my new husband to stay with his parents. All his immediate family lived together and they were welcoming and loving. We met extended family and friends around Samoa. Always wonderful hospitality. One day we went to meet with a large group of extended family in a semi-formal setting. I was the only white person and they held the whole proceedings in English. Despite a few relatives neither speaking nor understanding English.

    I was embraced and respected and moved by the experiences. Sorry if my emotion irritates you and perhaps I shouldn’t have recounted such very personal times.

    • 1900 – 2000. From the beginning to the end of the 20th century. No 100 year period in human history has seen change remotely like it.

      In its first two years, 1900 and 1901, Queen Victoria was on the throne of England. In its last two years, 1998 and 1999, Google was on the internet.

      At its beginning, airplanes were the stuff of science fiction. By its end, humans walking and living (albeit temporarily) on another world, had been a fact of history for 30 years.

      African-American supercentenarian who lived to 108, who’s mothers and fathers were born into slavery, and were freed after the war.

      In November 2008, supercentenarian children of slaves had the option to put an X by the name of Barack Obama. The following January, watched him sworn in as President of the United States.

      If we brought someone from 1900 through to 2000, yes, the world’s changed a lot, but it’s changed in ways that could have been predicted. Flight, computing, mechanised warfare, etc…, were anticipated to some extent. I’m not saying those weren’t huge changes, but do they match the massive reordering of the view of the world that proceeded the dark ages. Arguably, yes.

      In 1900, the world view was that the white man is at the top of the food chain as it naturally should be, that it’s okay for white Western powers to use imperialism to impose their control over the rest of the world, the monarchy is the natural form of government for most of humanity, it’s okay for minorities and women to be subservient so inequalities are natural and correct, that the sun will never set on the British Empire, war between the European powers was unthinkable, military power will always depend on the navies as it has been for the past few centuries, the yellow powers (China and Japan) could never amount to much, that Christianity is naturally correct no matter the sect, there was a widespread romantic fondness for Middle Eastern cultures (Orientalism), Earth is still the center of the universe even if it orbits the sun rather than the other way around, homosexuality is an eccentric disorder bordering on insanity and often punished with death, etc.

      In 2000, all that is completely turned upside down.

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