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I Don’t Want to be Racist Anymore

August 13, 2017

Race is a dangerous subject for a white man to engage in, but I’ve been told to remain silent is worse, so here goes.

I was born in America with all the privilege being a white male entails, not that I recognized any of it. I believed what my culture raised me to believe, which was that we were the good guys. America stood for freedom. Our technology was raising the living standards for everyone across the globe; the future was rosy bright and my generation was going to play a major part in creating it. All I had to do was decide what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I was so certain of my place within America’s society that I didn’t bother to take the steps necessary to lock it up. I dropped out of college when it became personally inconvenient. I quit jobs when the companies’ desires diverged from my own. I broke leases and friendships and promises, more than once. And still I managed to succeed. It never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t.

This is privilege.

But something happened to this country between my childhood and the present day: that feeling of American invincibility morphed into decadence, as if everybody in my generation had done their own version of my dropout performance, yet somehow expected their rosy bright future to appear anyway. And when it didn’t we looked for someone to blame, never considering it might be ourselves.

We have been raised for too long believing we are better than everyone else, that certain jobs are below our dignity, that we are entitled to a lifestyle without strife or hardship. In short, hubris. The American Sin is overwhelming pride.

When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” –unknown

As a white man I am qualified to understand white men’s motivation. I can think back on times I’ve reacted to people of other cultures with fear. I can see instances of my own complicity in remaining silent when I should have spoken up. And I can recognize that, had I received a little less education or had a few of the wrong role models in my life, I could’ve been one of the tiki-torch bearers this past weekend.

There is nothing that can possibly excuse the doctrines of racial supremacy. I do not write this to justify or in any way normalize the hateful actions caused by the followers of these cults. My goal, as ever, is to understand, for only through empathy can healing begin.

As much as we need to combat racial supremacy in the present day (and we do), we also need to combat the myths of American exceptionalism and entitlement in the fabric of our culture, so our children and their children don’t have to fight these battles into the never-ending future.

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From → Journal

5 Comments
  1. P. Mandoe permalink

    Thank you for the reflections! “To combat the myth of American exceptionalism…” I think you are talking about the feeling of “deserving” what is good without considering that everyone else deserves the same standard of living too. Expecting it. What actions can we take to change this storyline?

    • Hey there. You are right, I am talking about unearned entitlement. You’re also right, it’s about story. If life is a series of stories we tell ourselves, how do we direct those fables into positive actions? I have seen two things that motivate people to action (other than fear): a charismatic leader and a good example. Sometimes they’re one and the same, but not always. Even the most beloved of leaders can only take the people where they already want to go. A good example can show the way. On a cultural level, and as it goes in evolution, I would like to see the western version of industrial civilization replaced with something better. We seem to be in or nearing a time of crisis, which is scary, but it’s also an opportunity to undo our mistakes and build a better society. What is that going to be? I don’t know and I sincerely hope it’s beyond anything I’m able to imagine.

      • P. Mandoe permalink

        Hey Bo, I would love to see the “western version of industrial civilization replaced with something better” too. And yes, it’s a scary moment in time! I have no idea how it will play out. But I teach kids in the hope that they (like us) will be part of solutions. And I read “Jumping off the Planet” recently. Did you stock Kaneʻs bookshelf with it? I enjoyed the familiy/divorce/future scenario very much. Thanks for that (if it was you). Lotsa love, Prana

      • Hi Prana, I gave that book to Kane for Christmas or a birthday one year recently. There are two sequels. I was going to wait to see if he read it before passing them along, but maybe I’ll do it for you instead! 🙂

      • P. Mandoe permalink

        Yep, I’d love that. He’s not interested in it so far. Thanks, Prana

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