What made me think of this topic was another discussion that has been going on here about white males.
Here's my opinion; We as white males, specifically who live in the United States, are in the highest position of power and more importantly comfort than any other group or demographic definitely in the country and arguably in the world. We rarely feel discomfort or to put it more succinctly, we rarely feel the discomfort of the "other". The discomfort of the woman or the person of color or the immigrant are three that stick out in my mind. I'm sure there are others. We do not get looked at differently because of our skin or or body type or the way we dress. We are not judged because of these attributes or characteristics. We rarely feel the wrath of stereotyping we so often put on others. So when we hear anger from persons of color, immigrants or women, instead of reacting, we need to step back and listen. The burden is on us. Whether we like it or not, racism and misogyny is very much built into our society and we need to take the responsibility to deal with it more than any other group.
So for all white males out there, I challenge you, think before you react. Take the role of the other. Most importantnly, put yourself in situations of discomfort as much as possible. Attend an event that you are the minority, not the majority and see how you feel. This is our burden.
My question to you is; do you think this is our role to take? Do you think this is important? How do you, as a white male, see what your role or responsibility is in your society, United States or otherwise?
As a student I got an equivalent of $1000/month and tuition. $500 of the $1000 was debt, and the tuition was 100% debt financed. I studied or were in class from 9am-11pm, 10-6 on weekends, while the semester was on. Vacations between semesters were spent working 10-12 hours per day to pay off credit cards. First year I attempted to combine studying with working a 70% position, which just isn't possible. I therefore had to go deeper into debt. When I finally graduated there was no job in sight as I only had a 1 year work visa. I sent out over 3000 applications for jobs I was qualified for across the US, and only got a handful of interviews. I got a part time job working online, but it only amounted to around $800/month.
So I admitted defeat and had to move thousands of miles to another country where I immediately found a good job.
Anyway, student life is a step up from military life economically. There I got $500/month in pocket money. In high school it was $100/month. Still managed to save up and earn some extra here and there.
What's minimum wage? Doesn't exist where I'm from.
My Role is to not treat others as different. Seeking people out based on race is not an action that I would take. Avoiding people based on race is not an action that I would take. It's cheesy, but a little speech from a Samuel L Jackson character resonated with me years ago.
"Well, you are white and I'm black. See Jake, you think just like them, that's why I picked you; you are one of them , don't you see?. Oh, you think you ain't because you eat in Claude's and you are out there trying to get me off on TV talking about black and white, but the fact is you are just like all the rest of them. When you look at me, you don't see a man, you see a black man."
I remember making specific efforts because of the guilt of having racist Great Grandparents. But the notion that I'm now going to treat someone, or even view someone, as different is fraught with problems. Suddenly it isn't about equality because you are still singling out others. I have lived in a group where I was the minority. The last thing that I would have wanted is for people to obviously notice the difference by treating me differently. Some things take generations to change and my responsibility is to shun those that hold me back from that and to teach my children to view everyone as the same.
I recall when I was around 6 years old when a strange old dark skinned guy which barely spoke Norwegian came into our house and started playing with me. Serious chill factor even at the time. A few years later one evening my parents dragged me into the kitchen to tell me something important. I was really fearing the dreaded "birds and the bees" story which I still remember. It wasn't that story which luckily forever went untold, but rather that my grandfather throughout my early childhood wasn't really my grandfather.
My actual and biological grandfather lived far away in Canada and wasn't Norwegian at all. He was actually from the Balkans, which I had recently been told about. It just so happens he was the guy who had freaked me out so many years earlier. In addition, the continual background racism from the old people around that I trusted absolutely at the time was quite obvious.
However, I have always known the concept of bloodlines. A picture taken during an extended family get together at the house was the most prominent feature in the house. I've always known I'm a direct bloodline descendant of King Harold I the Fair Hair, the founder of our nation, from my mother's side. Just like a lot of other Norwegians you are conditioned to believe this. One of that guy's forefathers again had a burial i my town we used to play around where one of the most complete Viking ships were dug out from. (Image yourself being a direct descendant of George Washington and also the rather gifted son of Einstein at the same time. Same feeling.)
Anyway, that of course made me see where my new granddady's bloodline led - which happened to Alexander the Great. And that was a much, much, cooler guy in history. Just check out the length of each's entry to your nearest second language Wiki page. Seeing as I was one of "them" whatever I did (guess I should have attempted blood letting..), and "they" used to have a lot more of the awesome history lessons I grew up around, I instead started admiring other cultures. That's not possible to do without at the same time admiring all of the descendants.
At least to the level they deserve from their individual very recent history. Those who are racist and religious, because in reality it's two sides of the same coin, fall into this category of intense disadmiration.
Again using anecdotes in a vain attempt to debunk a statistical trend.
Honestly, f I were discussing this topic with a bunch of uneducated factory workers, I would not be so miffed at the apparent incapacity to distinguish the difference in weight between an anecdote and a statistical trend.
In French we have an expression used in grammatical debates: "L'exception fait la règle".
We understand that all rules have exceptions, all trends have anecdotes, anecdotes can not be used to invalidate a trend, just as an exception does not invalidate the rule.
You fail to also realize that people need to take responsibilities in their life. There may be problems in the cultures of those minority groups - including welfare programs that only encourage people to remain lazy - that's why Clinton's welfare-to-work program was such a good move on all fronts - don't allow people to just expect a welfare check month in and month out.
The only people holding anyone down today in the year 2011 - are the people who use excuses to make themselves feel like a victim - again, learned helplessness.
Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.
It's pretty much the same expression in English as in French.
How is my comment an anecdote? It isn't a story of any individual. It is a story that almost most , if not ALL socioeconomically lower classed males and females has the possibility of fulfilling.
There is always fast food. There are always promotions for hard work. Fast food doesn't discriminate on minorities or socio economic statuses. It is a secure job and has good benefits.
All you have to do is apply. Smile , be friendly and wear something nice. Act like you mean it. Then wow everyone and start getting promoted.
It's what most white males have to do to succeed as well. Our birth certificates are not attached with millions of dollars to them.