Originally posted by dryhump
This isn't a hateful post, so relax. I am going to make several confessions in the interest of hearing your opinions on them. I am honestly interested in what you have to say and not at all interested in making fun of you. Here goes, some of these may surprise you.
I am the dreaded white American male, age 33 my real name is Justin and I have a juvenil 'll do this in the interest of education. Also, I'd be interested to hear all about you.
"I am the dreaded white American male..."
'Dreaded' by whom? White American men seemed more afraid of competing
against me academically than I was of them. On the other hand, most
white American men probably would be better at some things than I am.
I don't have a problem with acknowledging my comparative weaknesses.
Unlike some other writers here, I don't pretend to be a 'tough guy' (or girl),
who's practically invincible in action or invulnerable to doubt and fear.
I was moved when a friend freely revealed that he was very afraid of being
conscripted into the Russian Army. He said that. as a member of the
'intelligentsia' (which has Russian cultural connotations hard to explain to
Westerners), he knew that he was not tough enough to survive life in the
Russian Army. (One of his friends had been beaten to death during military
training; the Russian Army is notorious for its brutal hazing of conscripts.)
He sought my comfort, and I did what I could to help him feel better
because I was impressed by his honesty and vulnerability.
You (Dryhump) are one 'white American male' among many.
White American men are as diversely endowed with individual human
characteristics as any other people--that's something I have long known.
Some white American men are among the best people whom I have ever
known, and some of them are among the worst. Many white American men
have treated me fairly enough, and some of them even seem to appreciate
my sense of humour. Even when I have disagreed with white American men,
I can have some respect for them if they present their views honestly
and attempt to treat my views fairly (which often does not happen at RHP).
I don't know why exactly some white American men seem to assume that
I must fear or loathe all of them. Many white American men have said
they have reasons for respecting me; some have said they have reasons
for admiring me; a few have even said they have--or soon hope to have--
reasons for loving me. A white American man has encouraged me to keep
believing in myself when many other people seem to have written me off.
So I don't object to an intimate attachment with a white American man.
Speaking of exaggerated 'political correctness', I don't have much time
for those people who casually write off Eurocentric history (which I know
should become less Eurocentric) as only the work of 'dead white males'.
'Dead white men' have contributed so much, for better and for worse, to
human civilisation. When I was a child, most of the heroes that I admired
were white men, and I never felt unable to identify with them as human
being simply because I was not born as a white male. Indeed, I believe
it's wrong to presume that a person should identify only with people of
one's own gender, race/ethnicity, or nationality. While recognising that
those barriers still remain, I have empathized with people across them.
That's right--I grew up admiring and hoping to be like some white men.
Should a young white American man have to feel guilty on account of
past racism and sexism? He should not have to feel guilty about anything
for which he was not personally responsible. At the same time, however,
he has a moral obligation to become aware of the history and realities of
racism and sexism and to listen with empathy toward those people who
still are being afflicted by racism and sexism. Unfortunately, it's too easy
for many right-wing white American men to say, 'I never have experienced
racism or sexism, so I know that you must not have experienced too.'
I don't have time for those white American men who would deliberately
turn a blind eye toward racism and sexism and not even admit it could
affect other people differently--that's deeply disrespectful toward people
who are different from themselves.
On a popular cultural note, sometimes I have overheard young white
Americans wondering, 'Is it cool to be white?' or 'Is it cool to act white?'
I would advise them, "Isn't it better for you to act like yourself rather
than to attempt to act like a fake black person because popular culture
tells you that's supposed to be cooler? Why should you care? Wouldn't you
be happier to be yourself than to act like a stereotype of someone else?"
My general point is that, while racism hurts non-white people more than
white people, it's also not good in some ways for white people because
it tends to constrain who they can be. While sexism hurts women more
than men, it's also not good in some ways for men because it tends to
constrain who they can be. Unfortunately, in some other ways, white
people do benefit from racism and men do benefit from sexism, which
explains in part why racism and sexism are so hard to eliminate or reduce.
Racism and sexism will not disappear, as if by magic, simply if everyone
closes one's eyes and waits for the calendar to advance. During the First
World War, German Jews were among the best treated of all Jews in Europe.
Indeed, many German Jews felt proud and thankful to be Germans as
opposed to say, subjects of the notoriously anti-Semitic Russian Tsar.
But during the Second World War, German Jews had a much darker fate.
Times had changed--and not necessarily for the better.