On my commute home today, I was starving. I hadn't eaten any solid food all day, but I had groceries in the car, so I was looking forward to having an early dinner. Then, as is usually the case in LA, there was a traffic jam. The cars were barely moving, inching forward at best, and my stomach wouldn't stop growling. So I reached over to the nearest grocery bag and grabbed hold of some fried chicken.
Can I eat fried chicken in the car? I wondered. It seemed a little unconventional, but my hunger pangs won out and I started gnawing on a drumstick. I was so caught up in finally eating food, I was initially oblivious to the fact that passengers in both the cars to my left and right were watching me. And it wasn't just like, "Oh, look at that guy eating fried chicken in his car." Their stares conveyed more of a "Oh my goodness, there is a guy eating fried chicken in his car!" I was suddenly the poster child of American obesity.
If I weren't so hungry, I probably would have felt too self-conscious to grab a wing and continue snacking. I wanted to roll down my window and ask, "Jealoussss?" but my mouth was full.
I felt intensely judged, but in that moment, I mostly felt relieved that I'm not a black person. As disgusting as they thought I was, you know that old white couple next to me would be calling their friends to say, "They can't even sit in traffic without eating fried chicken!"
Eating chicken on the freeway might be a trite example of my white privilege, but it is an example nonetheless.