Catherine Lair / by Michael Falco

Who is Catherine Lair?

Catherine (Cathy) Lair, a 54-year-old white, Christian, registered Independent American, was born in Hudson, New York, to first generation German parents. She describes her mother as relatively open minded about other races and her father as reticent but rather racist; an “Archie Bunker” type.  He used slurs and believed that, as Germans, they were “above everyone else.”  The family moved to Colorado in the 1970s, though she left home at 14 and moved to Los Angeles.  She’s been married twice and has raised four children.  She holds an associate degree from Front Range Community College and bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University.  She is a Phi Theta Kappa honors student working on another associate degree at Laramie County Community College. She’s lived in diverse places, including majority minority neighborhoods in California, Colorado and Florida. She moved to Wyoming as its nickname is the “Equality State” as well as for economic reasons. She lives with her current part Native American husband and is raising their grandson.

Excerpt from interview with Catherine Lair by Whitney Dow, 2018

Q: Do you feel that you personally have received any advantages for being white?

Lair: [11:33] No, I don’t personally believe that I have. But I also, well, I have spent times of my life living in areas that would not be considered white. I’ve lived in the barrios de Los Angeles with the Mexicans, okay? I lived in St. Petersburg, with the blacks. I’ve lived in different places where I’m definitely not the majority. Could you restate that question one more time? Because I kind of wandered on, I’m sorry. That I personally have received?

Q: An advantage that you personally feel you can point to that you got from being white?

Lair: [12:08] No, not really. Because the other times, where I’ve lived, has been predominantly white, and with a majority, I guess we get a result that’s favorable to us, but we’re not necessarily aware of that. I don’t think—when I lived in the other areas, I definitely did not have an advantage for being white. There’s a lot of reverse racism out there right now, and I think that’s the area that our country needs to work on right now. Whites are afraid of offending, whereas everybody else is throwing it in whites’ faces, using the words that we’re not supposed to use. They can use it, but we can’t, this double standard. That needs to go away, that kind of taunting stuff has to go away.


Lair: [45:03] For the last fifty years’ worth of—a lot of reverse racism. And even before that, there was still reverse racism. But it’s been somewhat condoned, because we’re feeling badly that we’ve done what we’ve done. And all you got to do is watch the standup comics. The differences between the way a white comic and a black comic is going to address their audience, the language that they choose to use, they’re all talking about race issues. But look at the way they do it. And there’s a lot of comics now that are talking about how whites need to stop groveling. Enough is enough. We’ve been apologizing for fifty years. We can’t go back and change history. You go into the South and they’re talking about getting rid of the flags and taking down statues. Don’t do that. That’s your history. If you take that stuff down, you’re going to forget. If you forget, you’ll repeat the mistakes. Don’t do it. It’s still a part of who and what you are, whether you like it or not.

Interview Transcript