WHEN I FIRST STARTED TRAVELING, I wasn’t aware of my race. Not in an “I don’t have a race!” type way, but in the same way I thought about accents. That guy has a southern accent. That girl has a Scottish accent. That guy is from Minnesota. My accent? Well, I don’t have an accent, I’m the one who’s normal. It’s the type of thinking that doesn’t stand up to a second’s worth of scrutiny, but it’s been standing for decades because it’s not given any scrutiny at all.
This is a fairly normal default stance for white people such as myself. None of this is to say we’re evil, ignorant people, it’s just to say we live in a society where people rarely draw our attention to our own race. So when I started traveling, I wasn’t white, I was normal.