Posted by: abbiewatters | October 26, 2016

Living into Expectations: Witnessing the impact of racial legacy

Chapter 27 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

Can you recall your childhood expectations of how you’d fare in school? How did you imagine your adult life would be? Where did you get these ideas? Think about lifestyle, family, and work. How close is you life to those of your parents and other adults you knew? How much do you think race influenced your life vision and outcome? How much do you think class influenced your life vision and outcome?

I always expected that I would be at the top of my class. When I was five years old my parents had my IQ tested, and it was reported as 145 (Genius category) – although even after I’m grown, my IQ tests between 130 and 135. Probably a lot of that was the fact that I was extremely verbal, after having been read to since I was little. I was always told by my parents and other adults in my life that I was smarter than anyone else, so I was expected to out-perform everyone else. I did get Honor Roll grades, although I never studied and often didn’t even bring homework home from school. I usually was able to finish everything I needed to do in the 10 minutes at the end of class while the teacher answered other kids’ questions.

I expected to go to college, marry a college graduate, raise a family and then go to work to fulfill destiny after the children were out of school (remember I grew up in the days of Leave it to Beaver, and Happy Days.)

That was the life my parents lived, and the atmosphere I grew up in.

That was the white American dream of the 40’s and 50’s, and I lived it out. By marrying an officer, I was able to continue with that life course. Both race and class influenced both my dream and the actual course of my life.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.



  1. Debbie, i’ve been reading through your blog and have really enjoyed it! You have a wonderful and encouraging perspective on racial justice. and hey! You and I both live near the puget sound! 🙂 I did have a question in response to this post because you had mentioned that you married an officer. If you don’t mind me asking, and i hope i’m not phrasing this poorly, has police brutality in the media effected him or yourself differently? What positives and negatives have come up for him as an officer? I hope these aren’t too personal. Again, love your blog and will continue reading 🙂


    • He was an Air Force officer, not with the police or fire department. He spent 20 years in the Air Force, and as I said earlier in my musings, the line in the military services is not racial, it’s between officer and enlisted.

      Don’t worry about personal questions. I’m trying to be brutally honest about my life, and my racial privilege, so I promise I won’t take offense.


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