I love sandwiches, all kinds, and anyone who knows me knows that I love me a sammich! I am a sammich specialist. But what people don’t know about me and something that’s been deeply uncomfortable for me to admit, is that…I prefer white bread.
Now that might not be a very politically correct thing to say, and I appreciate how that might be wrongly taken, and yeah, I know all about white bread’s nutritional content or lack thereof, and that gluten is just plain hazardous for many people, spare me the lectures, I know all about white bread, okay?
But the gist is, I have white bread privilege.
It started sometime around elementary school, all of the other kid’s moms packed their sandwiches for them, and at lunchtime they opened their My Little Pony, Dukes of Hazard, and Gremlins lunch boxes, and pulled out tuna fish and deviled ham sandwiches made and laid out upon…yep, you guessed it, Wonder Bread. If you didn’t have a bologna sandwich made upon Wonder Bread, it made you a freak, it made you pathetic, it made you mos def uncool. I always insisted on white bread, and it has stuck with me throughout my life, and while I understand that this preference is problematic in today’s anti-white bread, anti-gluten, and anti-processed food climate. What can I say? Old habits die hard.
Some of my friends will ask me, why should you apologize for your white bread preference? You can’t help liking what you like, I mean it isn’t as horrible as all that is it? It isn’t as if you’re drowning a sack of puppies, or drawing comparisons between skin tones to different kinds of foods—you know like “chocolate skin” or “caramel-russet-potato-gravy colored skin.” You just have a preference. And you happen to believe that white bread simply is…well, better than dark bread.
If you must know, I haven’t come to this reconciliation without a struggle. See, my preference for white bread and overcoming my guilt for preferring white bread, has not come without its share of a dark-night-of-the-soul kind of battle. I mean I’ve really agonized over this! It isn’t that I think dark bread is bad, I understand that many people not only prefer dark bread because it’s healthier, but also because they like the taste, and for those folks I say, that’s okay. I just happen to prefer white bread.
One of my friends informed me that because I identify as an Indigenous person, I shouldn’t prefer white bread because white flour is an evil, colonialist, settler ingredient. And evil, colonialist, settler foods have wreaked havoc on the health of Native populations—health problems like diabetes. While I understand all too well the statistics and the health issues, I still prefer white bread.
I am a Native American who has white bread privilege.
The other pressing issue I need to talk about is dark bread passing for white bread. Many of you might be aware of this, and some of you might not. The white bread companies like Wonder Bread, try to trick consumers by disguising their white bread to make it look like brown bread. When I first became aware of this, I was all WTH? That’s so not cool! For what possible reasons would the companies do that? It is not only confusing, but it totally undermines the authenticity of white bread, AND dark bread. And furthermore, I might be enjoying my white bread sandwich but how do I know for sure that it is really white bread? Maybe I’m eating dark bread that is passing for white bread? Man, that blows my mind a little. Bread is so complicated. Bread is so fluid a construction.
I don't mean to shanghai the conversation away from the other more pressing issues, I don't want to come off like a D-bag and make this all about me and my white bread privilege! Because I totes get that there's a lot of people who don't even have a choice as to what bread they like best because there's like, no bread to be had! And that blows. Like, I get it. But if you don’t mind I'm talking about me right now.
And I didn’t want to bring this up, but I may as well put it out there; tortillas do the same thing. Some tortillas at the grocery store are not only white and brown but also green! And orange! And yellow! Like a rainbow, these tortillas. Like a Skittles commercial, these tortillas.
Thanks. It feels good to get this off my chest—my unbearable white-bread-ness of being.
Tiffany Midge is a poetry editor for The Rumpus, and an award-winning author of The Woman Who Married a Bear. Her work is featured in McSweeney's, Okey-Pankey, The Butter, Waxwing, and Moss. She is Hunkpapa Lakota. Follow her on Twitter @TiffanyMidge