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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's Alright to be a White Male (or Anything Else, for that Matter)

It's really okay, you know. In a society that is struggling to create equality and opportunity for all, it would be easy to assume that somehow, just by virtue of being a white male, you are the problem. You weren't handed the prenatal selection card wherein you got to choose into what situation you would be born, including race and economic circumstance. I want to encourage you to let go of the idea that you, personally, are the problem. The sins of the father and mother are not visited on the sons and daughters except by those who prefer to remain in the sinful system rather than do the hard work of carving out change. I would like us to let go of all blaming of every kind, because there is nothing about blaming that moves us forward toward any kind of solution.

Blaming is probably necessary when we find ourselves at the place where we are trying to understand how we ended up in whatever predicament we find ourselves. In the case of living in a racist and classist society, we need to discover how we got in this mess before we can move toward solution. Once we discover how we got in this mess, however, we need to turn our attention toward a solution rather than constantly dedicate our efforts toward blaming the descendants of the group that got us here and the poor third cousins of the real power brokers. That's especially true when none of the people who got us in this mess are still alive.

Any time we are trying to change a system, we need to understand who holds the power. Can we agree that the white kid working at the convenience store doesn't hold the power? Granted, he enjoys a certain amount of white privilege and he may get waited on faster than a person of color, be seen more readily by other white people, and receive other relatively low level advantages due to his white privilege. In terms of having the power to change the system, he has none. He isn't going to be listened to in the hallowed halls of power because he simply doesn't have the socio-economic clout to make him someone who is listened to. He doesn't have the money to pay for advertising that influences elections. Whether we want to admit it or not, right now the only "people" who have power aren't really people at all - no matter what the Supreme Court says. The only people with power in our culture are corporations and the people who control them. What's more, if we have any hope of changing that system then we need to do it together. That means we are going to have to build bridges across lines that many if not most of us are more comfortable reinforcing than crossing. That takes real courage and dedication to the cause by everybody involved. Are we capable of it? Or are we more content to sit around calling each other names?

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