Tag Archives: race

Why white men understand bigotry as well as anyone

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To hear feminists and other SJWs tell it, white men are universally ignorant knuckle-draggers who just can’t help internalizing and adopting any bigoted idea we encounter over the course of our lives. Our brains are so eaten up by our whiteness that we are utterly incapable of discernment. None of us have ever found ourselves in any situations that led us to contemplate bigotry, discrimination or oppression of our own accord. Every story of oppression told by any minority is news to us; full of alien concepts that blow our sheltered little minds. Before we can speak on most social issues, we need to run our views by a woman or person of color, and let them edit out any of our opinions which they find inappropriate. To do any less is a failure to “check our privilege”, and we’re not supposed to notice that the women and people of other ethnicities who bark orders at us to do just that as if they have some kind of authority over us are acting pretty damn privileged themselves.

Here’s the thing, though: white men understand bigotry just as well as anyone else does. I’m not saying we understand it perfectly. There are gaps in our understanding and we can find ourselves laboring under misconceptions at times. We still have much to learn. You know what, though? Everyone else has similar gaps in their understanding of bigotry, too. Everyone has misconceptions at times – including women and people of color who think white men are just bubbling cauldrons of ignorance. White men are not the only ones with a lot to learn, we’re just the only ones routinely pressured to flagellate ourselves for what others assume we don’t know.

Contrary to popular belief, a lot of white boys first encounter bigotry in elementary school at the latest. For many of us, this is when we start making friends of our own choosing. Sadly, for some of us, this is also when we get our first inkling that there are certain types of people our parents or someone in our extended family would rather us keep our distance from. While many children internalize and emulate bigoted views from their families, kids aren’t all the same (not even the white ones) and that is by no means the only possible reaction. Many children instinctively realize, even at very young ages, that something is off with anyone who judges entire groups based on things like skin color, and any illusions they held about the infallibility of the adults in their families are abruptly shattered. White children dealing with such sudden disillusionment may not have ever heard of terms like “racism” or “bigotry”, but they can still sense these forces at work, infecting even some of the people they love the most. These kids often decide inwardly that they will spend their lives forming bonds with whomever they please, both because it seems only right and because not allowing their own psyches to be corrupted by bigotry has become important to them. Long before SJWs ever get ahold of them with their preaching and self-righteousness, many young white males have already spent considerable time wrestling with discrimination and its implications.

As we grow up, white males learn that everyday bigotry is not limited to white families. When we stay over at the homes of certain black friends, or when we’re sitting behind a black family in the theater, we sometimes overhear snippets of conversations we  weren’t meant to.  We meet some people of color who feel perfectly entitled to make quips about “why white people suck” that no non-racist person would ever find acceptable about any other race.  Friends of other ethnicities sometimes reluctantly confess to us that they’ve been raised not to trust that white people (especially white men) will ever accept them as equals. We learn that many of our non-white peers frequently receive warnings about “how white people are” from members of their families which are strikingly similar to what we’ve heard from certain individuals in our own families about them.

We find out that white males are often considered incapable of recognizing discrimination in any form, no matter how obvious it may be. Even worse, we discover that people of color sometimes assume that discrimination against them is something we’re all in favor of, or at the very least, give tacit approval to. On top of all that, we’re often confronted by the insulting realization that certain people assume our lives have been a cakewalk merely because we’re white. That even those of us who are dirt poor have never had to work for anything, because everything we need is just issued to us for being caucasian and male. That even those of us who are gay or bisexual have never been treated unfairly or oppressed. That there is no need for any kind of societal outreach to assist white men, even at a time when fewer and fewer of us are attending or graduating from college and more and more of us are committing suicide. In addition to facing constant stereotyping because of our whiteness, we’re  often treated as if we owe constant apologies for our whiteness (presumably because we’ve failed to go back in time and prevent other white people we never met from thinking they could own their fellow human beings as property.)

The inescapable conclusion I personally draw from all this is that bigotry is so deeply rooted and complex that no one of any gender or ethnic background can possibly wrap their minds around the full scope of it. It isn’t that most people are too thickheaded or unwilling to understand. It’s simply that too many different forms of bigotry are constantly co-existing in too many different places, on too many secretive levels,  for any one person or group to have all the information (although anyone who’s been in a long term interracial relationship does have a lot of the information, and these couples typically face enough ignorance from all sides to know that bigotry is categorically not just a “white people problem”.) The more we allow people of any and every race or gender to speak about these issues without shaming or silencing them, the better we’ll all understand them.

A black person who doesn’t get called for a job interview despite being a well-qualified individual who correctly filled out numerous applications may start to wonder if it’s because their name sounds “too black.” Meanwhile, a similarly well-qualified white person who lives in a predominantly black area and is dealing with the same situation may start to wonder if their name sounds “too white.” A black person who does get hired for a job may be accused of only getting the position because of Affirmative Action. A white person who doesn’t get hired for a new job may wonder if Affirmative Action is the reason they didn’t get the position. For both the black and the white individual, they may feel oppressed, but the only people who actually know whether discrimination has taken place are the strangers in charge of hiring at the various places applications were turned in, along with anyone those strangers might choose to take into their confidence. Allegations can be brought, investigations conducted, but unless and until that happens (and sometimes even after), there are too many unknown variables. Both the hypothetical black and white people in our illustration could be absolutely correct that they were discriminated against, but there are other possibilities, too. Other applicants may have wowed the hiring managers or seemed more suited for the position. Some companies may have forgotten to take down notices about positions that had, in fact, long since been filled (this happens quite frequently.) However, even if such innocuous explanations were known for a fact to be the case, that wouldn’t be incontrovertible proof that the companies in question weren’t rife with bigotry, it would just make it less likely that black or white people were the targets of the dominant strain of bigotry in those particular working environments. Any or all of them could still be stubbornly opposed to hiring Arab Americans, or Mexican Americans, or homosexuals, or little people, or some other group entirely.

Ascertaining the full extent of bigotry in spheres of public life that both citizens and government have some degree of oversight on is complicated, but getting a sense of how pervasive or influential it may be in people’s private lives is next to impossible. A lot of the awful things some folks say about other ethnicities or genders are said in private, to their families or friends – and the people they say them to often have no interest in repeating such obviously offensive nonsense, because they feel that to do so would only give it power. Unless it somehow comes up organically in the process of conversation, I’m not going to burden or further traumatize any of my black friends who have had to deal with enough discrimination already by relaying to them any of the racist things my grandmother said when I was growing up. Nor am I typically going to brag about how I frequently responded with a ten-minute monologue outlining all the ways I could think of that she was being racist and narrow minded. I assume that many of my friends of other ethnicities have heard some of their family members and friends say similarly indefensible things about white people which they’d rather not share with me, and which they hopefully didn’t approve of. Most people don’t seek out special praise just for shouting down the bigoted views of people who they wish they weren’t related to (or otherwise stuck with.) It’s only SJWs who make a big deal about this kind of thing, because they’re typically the only people who think they deserve accolades simply for not being intractable bigots.

Ironically enough, SJWs often are some of the most intractable bigots you could ever be unfortunate enough to meet. These are the main people who insist that white males can’t possibly know anything about bigotry, absolutely oblivious to the fact that stereotyping white men in such a fashion is bigotry. These are the people who assume white men they just met are heterosexual unless we immediately state otherwise or are completely limp in the wrist. They assume we’re “Men’s Rights Activists” unless we’re completely besotten with feminism. They assume we’re trying to undermine all people of color unless we agree with everything they say, because of their assumption that all people of color automatically agree with them, and could never possibly take the side of a white man against an SJW deluded into thinking they always have the moral highground by default. They assume that, even in the year 2014, most white men go through our whole lives without having any meaningful interactions or forming any deep bonds with people different than ourselves. They assume not just that they need to explain to us what life is like for other ethnicities, but also that we need them to explain to us what being white is like, and that we should listen in rapt silence as they detail a host of overblown “white privileges” that many of us apparently never got the memo about. They complain endlessly about how tired they are of having to “teach” white men, yet they never let a white man walk by without trying to do exactly that. Nor do they consider for even a millisecond how sick white men are of people who know nothing about us assuming we need to be “taught.”  SJWs, generally speaking, are utterly incapable of self-reflection. They can’t admit any fault or misconceptions on their own part in their dealings with white men. As far as they’re concerned, to do so would be conceding defeat to the enemy (and no, they don’t think it’s even slightly bigoted to think of white men as “the enemy.”) If it wouldn’t have been too unwieldy of a headline, I would have called this article Why white men understand bigotry as well as anyone, and way better than social justice warriors do.

Case in point: When I was in college, we were given an assignment requiring us to write a paper detailing 3 stereotypes faced by different groups of people. The assignment was graded by a black teaching assistant who, when introducing herself to the class, had been very vocal about her work in the field of social justice . For my first stereotype, I wrote that black people often face the unfair and typically untrue assumption that they’re criminals, or somehow dangerous. I received high praise for making note of that. For my second stereotype, I wrote that women often face the unfair and usually  baseless assumption that they’re overly emotional creatures who can’t make sound decisions based on logic. Again, I received high marks. For my third and final stereotype, I wrote that white men often face the assumption that we are all bigots who don’t understand most social issues. I related my experiences as a white, gay man whose first serious boyfriend was a significantly older black man and how, despite constant assertions to the contrary from SJWs, there was absolutely no way I could come out of that relationship without having gained a deep understanding of racism, homophobia, ageism and intersectionality. I concluded by lamenting the fact that none of these SJWs ever bothered getting to know me or where I’d been for even five minutes before judging my capacity for understanding. The teaching assistant responded by scrawling on my paper in red ink:  “Incorrect. White men do not face stereotypes.” She completely invalidated my experience, even after I’d proven to her satisfaction with the other stereotypes I wrote about that I fully understood what constitutes stereotypical treatment.

When it comes to how SJWs conduct themselves in interactions with white men, stuff like this is the rule, and not the exception. For a group that kicks up such sound and fury about how important it is to actually listen to others when they’re relating their personal struggles, they’re remarkably unwilling to follow their own advice. They see absolutely no bigotry or hypocrisy in treating white men as if we are the only people who  -individually or as a group-  it’s not important to listen to. Scratch that. They don’t just act like it’s not important to listen to us, they act like it’s of vital importance that no one listens to us. That is a dangerous sentiment, and it’s why I felt this subject was important enough to write about. Anyone who seriously advocates that an entire group of people should go uniformly unheard based on characteristics beyond their control may very well be trying to put in place an infrastructure to disenfranchise that group down the road. I’m not saying white men are more oppressed as a whole than anyone else right now, but no group of people should be encouraged to sit back and wait until they are shut out of everything with any meaning or impact before they speak out about ongoing attempts to marginalize them. Feminists and assorted SJWs who mock white men because they don’t see us as disadvantaged “enough”  to fight for our rights are really mocking themselves. Is it our fault they haven’t gotten better at oppressing us yet?

Of course, any good SJW will tell you that white men can’t be oppressed, because white men are the literal embodiment of oppression. It’s certainly true that white people in America have some unspeakably oppressive stuff in our history. Things like enslaving other human beings understandably end up being held against people in the long run, and I absolutely agree that any 200 year old white person who owned slaves and has gone unpunished should receive their due societal condemnation now. Exile or death for them, I say. I will not, however, support punishing subsequent generations for the sins of their forebears. Segregation ended far more recently, and the fact that so many white people could support (sometimes even revel in) that kind of blatant racism almost into the 1960s has left scars that are still fresh to many. It was white people who owned slaves and supported segregation, by the way. Many feminists try to obfuscate this truth, but white women committed these atrocities right alongside white men. Despite the shameful crimes white people have committed against other races in America (including not just slavery and segregation, but also Japanese internment camps during World War II) oppression has never been limited to places where caucasians comprise the majority. Slavery and violence motivated by religion, gender, race or social status has marred the history of regions all over the world for as long as humankind has existed, and white people have been victimized by these toxic facets of human nature just like everyone else.  Attempting to lay blame for every trace of bigotry on the doorsteps of white people and acting as though it’s something only white people are even capable of is the height of inanity, and anyone who does so is demonstrating a jawdropping lack of knowledge about human history.

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Someone’s race or gender doesn’t make them any more or less likely to understand bigotry or oppression, though different types of people are more likely to face oppression or bigotry in different regions. Understanding that they’ve been discriminated against doesn’t necessarily mean a person understands why the discrimination happened, or why any discrimination happens, at least not for a while after it occurs. As someone who has been discriminated against repeatedly in my life, I can attest that people often just feel bewildered, sad and angry in the immediate aftermath of being subjected to bigotry, and do not feel overwhelmed with enlightened understanding, for the simple fact that bigotry ultimately does not make sense. Reaching an understanding of that is a big part of the battle for anyone looking to wrap their heads around issues related to discrimination and oppression. Beyond that, factors that SJWs don’t seem to be aware even exist play into  how successfully a person can conceptualize bigotry; little things like personality, experience and IQ,  none of which are primarily determined by race or gender.

With possible exceptions made for  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a scant few others, I doubt any mere mortal’s take on race, gender, bigotry and oppression has ever been perfect, and I’m sure my own understanding isn’t perfect, either. However, neither is my understanding of these things automatically less extensive than every woman and/or person of color on the planet. No one has ever been required to be all-knowing about a subject just to relate the things they do know about it, and holding white men to a higher standard of understanding than everyone else is overtly racist and sexist. Learning more about complex, important issues is and should be a lifelong process for anyone who gives a damn about creating a better world, and I’m more than willing to give a fair, open-minded hearing to anything any man or woman of any race has to say that they feel would improve my understanding, as long as they don’t open with “you can’t speak or comprehend, cos you’re a white man.”

It’s never made sense to me that the people who most stridently insist that my whiteness means I can’t possibly ever understand these things no matter what anyone does are the same people who keep trying to explain them to me over and over, ad infinitum. Furthermore, anyone who contends that white men are naturally incapable of reaching an understanding of what bigotry even means is basically arguing that those white men who are ignorant racists or misogynists aren’t responsible for their own oppressive views and behaviors. If they can’t help it, society doesn’t get to blame them for it. SJWs are inadvertently using their own bigoted misconceptions of the average white man to entirely excuse the discriminatory views and actions of the minority of white men who truly are bigots. Let’s all just pause for a moment and appreciate the cognitive dissonance it must take for them to not even notice that’s what they’re doing.

Most people probably already understand the majority of the points I’m making here. Regardless of skintone or gender, normal, well-adjusted people don’t tend to spend  much time getting hung up on the race or gender of every single person they interact with as they go about their days. The majority of us don’t have time for that and it simply doesn’t make much difference to us. We judge people based on their characters, their ideas and how they treat their fellow human beings, which is why so many interactions between people of differing ethnicities and/or genders are perfectly respectful, often amiable, and unfold without anyone condescending to anyone else. These interactions don’t always result in diverse people making powerful, lifelong connections, but most people have no objections when that does happen, either.  It’s really only SJWs and bigots of other stripes who are likely to find my views controversial, because it truly does take a bigot to insist that ultimately superficial qualities like someone’s skincolor and what genitals they have are the all-important determiners of their capacity, or lack thereof.

I’ll give SJWs one thing: they’ve been smashing successes at teaching white men (and everyone else) about bigotry, just not in the ways they think. They’ve never been the beacons of enlightenment they arrogantly credit themselves with being, but they do a great job of demonstrating exactly what bigotry and oppression look like every time they tell a white man his only function is to sit down, shut up and be taught. 

 

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