Queering the Triathlete (and Other Discomforts)

A Melancholy Zebra determined to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The White Crayon is Boring: Justifying My Qualifications


No, really. What good is the white crayon? Generally speaking, the sheet of drawing paper is white, so if the artist needs something to be white, they use the negative space. Actually drawing with it ends up pointless. You want someone to see your drawing? Pick up a bright crayon. Use the blue. Use the red. Use the purple. Hell, use the tan. Just don’t bother with the white one.

So, perhaps you can imagine my exasperation when presented with this prompt: “In an essay, discuss… Please include any experiences, challenges, or opportunities…; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity…; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.”

… I am a skinny white girl with blue eyes and multiple liberal arts degrees. COME ON NOW.

This essay prompt makes me groan. There should be a bloody asterisk indicating that Overrepresented Groups need not submit a response to this portion of the application. (Or maybe they’re testing us to see just how creative we can be with that one, though I doubt it.) I’ll give you one guess as to the location of this particular university.

Bitching about how biased the question appears toward racial and cultural minorities aside (and I will admit that I can indeed label myself as a cultural minority if not a racial one), allow me to share with you part of my drafted response:

… I was not the racial outlier in my graduating class; no one has made snide comments about my ancestry. When I finally kissed the girl I loved before high school assembly (in the “Deep South” no less), the nearby boys were too busy whooping to discriminate. When I filed a police report for sexual assault in undergrad, I became another of the 1-out-of-5-college-age-girls and was applauded with a chorus of “Me, too!” Perhaps the most stares I’ve earned over the years resulted from a shaved head—long hair gets hot in the South—but those stares were often followed by, “Dang, girl! You pull that off! Your head isn’t lumpy!”


All of this is not to say that I have not had any prejudicial experiences or overcome any significant obstacles that make me a unique scholar. I have. Everyone has. If we aren’t in a battle with society, often we battle our psyche. If society doesn’t hate us, then we will hate ourselves. If society judges us worthy, we decide society must be nuts. Whatever society has not inflicted upon us, we will inflict upon ourselves. I understand trauma and judgment and the battle for opportunity as well as anyone; the main difference between me and the quintessential diversity candidate is that I fought against myself.

Struggle is not unique to outliers. The green crayon wears down and snaps just as easily as the red one (unless there’s something about crayon manufacturing that I don’t know about.)

One of the wisest and most beautiful women I’ve ever met said that: “Faith is sharing in the suffering of others.”

P was defining faith there, having already assumed that we all suffer. I gesture back to the eternal pissing contest of suffering that I discussed earlier and state again that we do not know what lies within another’s heart. Everyone gets their ass handed to them by life. Person A is turned down for a job because their skin is the wrong color. Person B gets beaten up for kissing someone of the same sex. Person C gets kidnapped for looking (or not even looking) like a target. Person D gets admitted to inpatient for self-injury and PTSD. Person E gets in a car crash and loses their legs.

Everyone is a damn white crayon. Maybe it’s simply the paper that’s a different color. (Yes, go figure out why that switch makes a difference. I’ll wait.)


For the Love of Metta,


2 thoughts on “The White Crayon is Boring: Justifying My Qualifications

  1. Great post. We are all wounded. I would love to see a grad or med school application ask what’s the most fun you’ve had instead of having everyone focus on the shit stuff of life.


  2. Great points! I really enjoyed reading this post, your writing is so full of character. Love the snark.


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