I mean REALLY white. It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century, albinos remain an ostracized and oppressed minority.
Model/actress Connie Chiu
is one of the few that has
turned her albinism into an asset
I mean really white. As a white heterosexual male, you’d probably think I’d have it made when it comes the treatment I receive in our culture. Well, the problem is, I’m a little too white. That probably sounds silly to you, but although I’m not an actual albino, my lack of pigmentation has had a profound impact on my life, and led me to always identify more with just about any culture that isn’t “the American white”. Being hopelessly pale – much like being a “ginger“, an effeminate male, a masculine female, or a black, asian, or Muslim person (among countless other “minorities”) – sets you up for decades of being treated differently in America. If you’re pale, you’re assumed to be frail, introverted, and afraid of the sun and sports. All of which were quite the opposite of the truth for me. We like to think that in the 21st century, we treat people more or less the same, but the fact is, you’re probably more comfortable around “average” looking people than stunningly beautiful people, even if you’re stunningly beautiful yourself. And depending on your race and national origin, you probably have a profoundly different set of reactions to people other than “your own”. I can only begin to imagine what it feels like to be an albino; in spite of their rather insignificant actual differences, their visual appearance seems so dramatically different as to almost appear alien. And I’d bet that their relative rarity isn’t the only reason you probably don’t have any albino friends. Historically, albinic people have always been regarded as either evil or magical in some way, when in fact the only difference they possess is a simple lack of pigment and possible vision impairments. The results of this cultural bias can be downright horrifying; in African countries like Tanzania and Burundi there have been numerous witchcraft-related killings of albinos in recent years. Parts of their bodies are used in potions sold by witchdoctors. In Zimbabwe, belief that sex with an albinistic woman will cure a man of HIV has led to rapes and subsequent HIV infections. To learn more about Africa’s “tribe of ghosts”, see this Daily Mail piece. And if you want to offer aid to this very real problem – 53 children and adults with albinism have been killed since 2007 in East Africa alone – visit the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation’s web site.