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?
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.
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.
Sorry , I understand now. I wasn't using them as an anecdote on how black people can succeed and become famous. I was using them to imply the opportunity is there for people of black skin - better yet , having black skin doesn't automatically bar you from being middle class - I know many black skinned people won't have the first shot up the ladder to begin with ... but that's why I went on about fast food.
Of course some black skinned people won't have that chance to get their foot in the door ... but so some white males wouldn't make the cut either.
My main point being , having black skin does not prevent you from succeeding , but socioeconomic standards would.
I mean let's start a discussion about race. We'll ask all the white people if they saw the name 'Shenequa' on an application but everything else about the application was STELLAR , would they just throw out the application because the person 'might' be black skinned? I think practically unanimously , the answer would be yes. Just joking. It would most definitely be no. The skin color doesn't matter whites. It pretty much only matters to the people who have the different color skin.
Correct me if I'm wrong................
*Ehrm* I would ignore such a product because I am clearly not be among the intended target market for it. I would suspect it being made by some glary cheap plastic or be heavily fried.
Same if the product was named 'Billy Bob'. Wouldn't and couldn't associate myself with it.
If it was called 'Mario' I would imagine a fine suit or delicious food item. Definitely higher likelihood of testing that out.
I am a white male in the United States. I am not, however, responsible for oppression suffered by blacks and other minorities over the centuries. My ancestors, specifically my grandparents, came over from Ireland in the early 1900's. Irish people are white. Irish people were oppressed by the British for centuries. I do not blame the current Brits for what Oliver Cromwell and countless other British elites did to the Irish people, nor should I be blamed for what slave owners did or what the British and Spanish and French explorers did to the native americans.
My grandfather came to this country, leaving his wife and young children at home in Ireland, while he saved money so he could afford to bring them to New York. Life in Ireland was one of squalor. He, through hard work, was able to do so. All of his children took jobs in the service industry -- plumber, telephone service, firefighter (my father). None of them got college degrees. Their goal was to raise their kids to be good people, and to make sure they went to college.
We all went to college. We all work very hard, and we all make pretty good livings. None of this, however, was done on the back of blacks or hispanics or indians. It is not my responsibility to lift them up, but I certainly have no right to hold them back either.
To answer your questions:
I think our role is to empathize with and encourage minorities to improve their lot in life. I hear lots of people saying it's not so easy, and maybe it's true that I can't really know because I've never lived in their shoes. THERE IS NOT MUCH I CAN DO ABOUT THAT. But I will tell you that my family did not have money, my father worked his ass off to put his kids through college, and more importantly to raise us to be good people, and as a result we are finding success he could have never dreamed of. This can also be done by minorities, without the help of affirmative action or any other white guilt based programs.
Lemme guess, this never would have happened to my family if we weren't white, right? Sorry this isn't 1950's Mississippi. Plenty of people manage to EXCEL. Sometimes life is hard. I certainly won't make your life harder. But none of this bad stuff weighing you down is my fault, nor is it my responsibility to solve the problem. It's your own responsibility.
God I love this post. But you know they'll just say it's cause your grandfather was a 'white man'
"THERE IS NOT MUCH I CAN DO ABOUT THAT."
My sentiment exactly.
Racism is alive and well. So sad. Would the men lower their testosterone levels down a notch. It is all so primitive. I am better than you are - I won the fight.
America has this illusion that everybody has equal opportunity in their country. A few blacks who make it, have drive,talent and LUCK - there are many more in America who don't make it - even though they have drive and talent - equal opportunity is an illusion - or delusion.
It's all about the education - if ALL you know is thuggery, recalcitrant parents etc - it is a vicious circle. And the sad part is so much talent is wasted. Would I be scared of these people, and not walk where they live, absolutely.
But I fear more the white, educated people in banking, hedge funds, futures markets - the ones who bring the world down with their 'mental masturbation'.
There is no such thing as "luck". There is such a thing as attaining knowledge which enables you to be in the right place at the right time. It does not rain down from heaven and sprinkle itself mostly on white males heads. Probabilities can be played, luck cannot.
This is the whole point of Rawls veil of ignorance. You cannot choose what you are born. Society as a whole should improve the situation for the members of society which are worst off. Today that's the working poor class and down, "race" is a much smaller factor than in 1960. However, it is still the individual's responsibility to swim for the lifelines provided or drown. Even though education is often piss poor, you can easily become smarter than your parents by the time you are 15 if you work hard.
Get a well deserved C in class, yell racism, get a B+. That has never happened, right?