I Am Embarrassed To Be A White Man
A list of behaviors we exhibit that should be put to shame
I can’t control that I’m a white man, just as nobody else gets to choose what color their skin is. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be embarrassed of the way people who look like me act on a daily basis.
Being tone-deaf, not using their privilege to improve society and make things easier on those who have centuries of harassment and racism thrown at them. White people sometimes think not being racist in their personal lives is good enough.
No. You must be anti-racist. That is why I enjoy writing on Medium about race, because I get to share my voice and make others who are like me think about how they can better their actions when they wake up every morning.
With that being said, here is a list of the ways I am embarrassed to be a white man, and how we as a society can improve upon these topics to make something to be proud of instead of something shameful.
Embarrassment: I am horrified when the first response a white person has to police violence against black people is to ask what the background was on the black person who was the victim of the brutality. Being arrested a decade ago for drugs does not mean that a cop has the right to take that person’s life. Having counterfeit money does not allow an authority to kill you. Horrific stuff.
It feeds into a disturbing trend of always looking at what the victim of a crime could do better to avoid an incident, instead of placing blame on the abuse of power that caused the exploitation. It’s how law enforcement always stays on top of the food chain and the people down below to get eaten alive by those who swear to serve and protect.
Solution: Ask what the cop’s background is first instead of what the civilian victim’s is. Weeding out the “bad apples” (and there’s a TON of them) will put much more pressure on the authorities to occupy these important positions with those who have the intelligence, the morals, and the strength to do a tough job properly.
If you know a cop in your family or friend circle, it’s time to police them. Ask them how they are helping the issue get better. Are they making their coworkers accountable? Don’t feel sorry for them because they are receiving a little bit of heckling and backlash. It’s deserved. Education and introspection is the only way for white people to realize what they are doing wrong, and to put the necessary measures in place in the police force.
Embarrassment: I am embarrassed that white men put Donald Trump into office in 2016. 62 percent of white men voted for Trump in the election four years ago, and white people are the majority race in the country. We brought the principles of our nation back decades because of the white men who live here. Shameful and unforgivable.
White men make a habit out of only thinking about how a political candidate affects them. They are never in the mood to care about how the leaders of the country will affect minority groups who have struggled to get their voice heard throughout the entirety of America’s history. Some of it may just be a negligence to educate themselves on the issues, other times it’s a conscious choice to ignore the hardships of others. As my brother likes to say, think about WE, not about ME.
Solution: Do some research on the candidate you are going to vote for instead of feeding into propaganda and long-standing fallacies from politicians who use racially-coded language. Trump was great at scaring white people into believing that immigrants from Mexico were going to destroy our country. He was great at convincing white people that the police are always in the right and that the protesters of police violence are the domestic terrorists instead of the authorities causing all of the pain.
I am glad to see that four percent of the white men who voted for Trump in 2016 did not repeat that endorsement in the 2020. We are making small progress. Talk to your friends and your family about their long-standing ignorances and prejudices and we will be able to demonstrate pride in our decisions instead of shame.
Embarrassment: This connects closely with the police violence thread from earlier in the piece, but I just can’t believe how ignorant white people are when they tweet or put up an “All Lives Matter” sign. The definition of embarrassment, these people are once again thinking about themselves instead of trying to understand the message that we are purveying to the world on a daily basis for years.
Saying that all lives matter is so obvious it should never need to be said. The problem is that all lives don’t matter to white men, otherwise they would take to heart the painful cries for help from minority sectors of society. All lives matter is essentially translatable to “white lives matter, everyone else should shut the hell up”.
If I had two children, and one of them was struggling mightily in school while the other one had straight A’s, I would focus on the kid who needs the assistance. I think everyone would. Does that mean that the successful tyke doesn’t need love and care? Absolutely not. It just means that they do not need the help from me at this moment in their schooling, but their sibling does. All of my kids matter, and that’s why the failing child will receive my help. It’s to get them on the same page as the A student.
Solution: Take the analogy I used above and try to find others in your own life related to struggle. Tell these metaphors to your friends and colleagues who need to garner a greater understanding about what it means to put your focus on a struggling group of people or a down and out person.
When someone is in pain, it’s not your job to say why they shouldn’t feel the way that they do. It’s demeaning and it’s inconsiderate to turn the topic over to you when you are not the one going through a struggle related to systematic oppression. I suppose when you’ve never had to overcome hatred directly tied to something innate and given to you at birth, like skin color, then it’s hard for white men to picture themselves on the lower rungs of the corrupt social ladder. This dissonance is key to the majority of white people looking beyond themselves and into the eyes of other people.
White people matter. They always have. For thousands of years. Saying that they do is fucking embarrassing. The solution is stop saying and thinking it.
If you are white, I hope that you have been able to look into your own soul throughout this read to see whether you do any of these things or demean these movements that matter to minorities.
If you are non-white, never feel bad for your anger and your anxiety that you face so frequently. Know that there are some white people out there who are embarrassed for the entirety of our demographic, and we will continue to give a voice to those who are in need of support.
White people in denial about the advancement of civil rights are the biggest obstacle to a world where we can all be proud of the diversity of our population.
If I can leave you with any one thing to think about after reading, it would be that listening to how the oppressed feel instead of your own inner thoughts is the basis for sympathy in any topic of life.
When it relates to racism, nothing is more important than white people admitting that you don’t get to decide how black people feel about their place in the world.
I will be proud to be a white man when we allow minorities to be proud of their roots and their struggles. You will be proud then, too.