How being a lefty taught me what I don’t know about racism

Alex Feinman
6 min readJun 2, 2019

Seeing the invisible

“You’re left-handed, right? Why is it that so many lefties feel they have to tell you they’re left-handed?”

Good question, fictitious sophont! The answer lies at the root of invisible privilege. But first, I must introduce you to a few items in my daily life.

My office desk

My office desk is right-handed. Yours likely is, too, but perhaps you never noticed. There is a cutout for my computer, and a big area to the right of that for writing, coffee cups, or other such uses. To the left, there’s a tiny strip of space.

If I want to have coffee at my desk, my choices are to place it in front of my monitor, reach across my body…or be right-handed.

It’s worse if I need to take actual notes, but we lefties are used to writing at awkward angles.

My car

Like all drive-on-right-side cars, my car is strongly right-handed. Shifter and radio and AC controls, all on the right. (Turn signals on the left, as normal, but that’s a holdover from when most people drove stick.)

Of course, having been taught to drive a manual transmission here, I’d be quite bewildered if asked to drive a car in, say, the UK. My right hand has learned how to navigate the gears, wheel, and radio controls.

My Scissors

As a kid, I could never cut paper at school — the scissors would twist in my fingers and gum up the paper. Eventually I learned to jam the blades sideways in my fingers to make them cut, a grip that left deep grooves in my hands after a few minutes. This was tiring, and I’d eventually fall back to using them the way everyone else did, and gumming up the paper. It was just something I was bad at!

When I was about nine, half as a joke, at a “lefty” store, my parents bought me my own pair of scissors. These scissors had a bright orange handle, and were molded to fit left hands only. I still have them, nearly 40 years on. Because as it turned out, scissors are deeply handed.

Alex Feinman

Obligate infovore. All posts made with 100% recycled electrons, sustainably crafted by artisanal artisans. He/him/his.