expert, token or snitch?

posted by missmsian

Have you ever, as the only non-white person at a dinner party or other social event, been awkwardly forced by the white folk around you to take on an essentializing role in the midst of a heated political discussion?

While you or “your people” are the subject of unintelligent debate, you’re never invited to be one of the main speakers. You’re also not allowed to change the subject.

What are some of the roles you could be asked to play?

Expert – your opinions are requested so long as they uphold the status quo or support the point of the white speaker. Your comments represent the views of every single person within your ethnocultural group. (Note: white people may occasionally guess what that is without confirming with you.)

Sometimes, if you’re not from the same group but a white person is desperate to prove a point, it’ll be enough that your ancestors were from the same continent as the group in question.

Token – similar to the Expert. However, whereas in the Expert scenario you’re asked if you agree that honour killings are a part of Azn culture or that Azns are bad drivers, you won’t even be asked as a Token.

A white person may simply point at you to validate his or her point. In fact, you may not even need to be with the person at the time of the comment. He or she can simply explain, “Well, my Black friend …” or “An Indian told me …”

Also called the “silent Expert.”

Snitch – in these white people’s minds, you’re the worst type of minority to have around (they won’t say that aloud, though, ’cause then they’d be called racist and THEY’RE REALLY NOT, THEY SWEAR!!!!) You ruin the fun because you’re likely to call them out for questionable comments or glare disapprovingly when they use racial slurs.

However, you’re useful to have at the house of anyone considering a career in politics. Between feigned whispers of “Oh, don’t say that! So-and-so’s here,” white political candidates silently gloat about how you’re helping them show off their liberal thinking and political correctness.

Watch out. At the next social gathering you’re not invited to, white people will complain that you’re the “touchy minority” and “reverse racist.”

Have you been forced to play the Expert, Token or Snitch at a social event? How do you deal with it? What are other roles  you’ve been pushed into?

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1 Comment

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One response to “expert, token or snitch?

  1. jroselkim

    I feel that I alternate between Expert and Snitch. Such is the reality of my life, I suppose. Strangely, I also feel like I played Expert and Snitch with my Korean relatives last summer, as they looked to me for “North American” perspective and when I repeatedly pointed out how problematic gender dynamics were in Korea (as well as their attitude toward foreigners). Such is the life.

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