Dear Nice White Guys,
Hi! How ya doin? I’m a big fan. But I want to drop you a quick note to warn you about the rough months and years ahead.
So here’s the thing. I know that most of you mean well. You want to treat others with fairness, and you also want to be treated with fairness. Plenty of you exercise that fair judgment every day to the best of your abilities, and try to be good to those around you. What more could one person be expected to do? Then you hear me and other women and minorities rail on white men. We yell at white men, we tell them to fuck off, and naturally, you go, “ouch! What the fuck did I do?”
So I get that. And I am going to address that quickly, but quickly. Because plenty of people have tried to explain it only to have white guys metaphorically spit on them and slam the door. Try not to do that, and I’ll try to keep seeing your side.
WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE IS NOT A MORAL FAILING
It’s not your fault you’re a guy. It’s not my fault I’m a girl. Same goes for race. Yada yada. So we know you didn’t ask to be pooped out of your mom’s uterus a white guy. You just got lucky. And cheerio to you. You’re not less of a person because you are a white male. But the key here is that you’re not more of a person either. But often, the law and society treats you as if you are. In fact, our own subconscious implicit biases even treat you as if you are inherently superior.
So when we are explaining your privilege, we are saying, “you are getting an advantage.” But if you are not willing to even acknowledge that, how could we possibly level the playing field?
HERE, IT'S A WHITE AND MALE ADVANTAGE. THAT IS SPECIFIC TO OUR HISTORY, NOT GENETICS.
Systemic advantages exist in all countries. It’s a residual symptom of our history of tribalism. Here, the dominant people are white males, but that is not always the case in the rest of the world. We know that. You now know that. But also, it’s white and male a lot of places because, you know, our ancestors sort of loved invading other places. Not our fault that our ancestors were kind of assholes, but it’s not a tradition I’m proud of, either.
WE CAN PROVE IT. WE'VE GOT RECEIPTS. BUT YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO LISTEN AND BELIEVE US.
You don’t believe inconvenient statistics, not due to the flawed statistical model but because the statistics surprise you? That’s denial. If you pretend that your doubt is justified because it doesn’t align with your assumptions about other people, you are now justifying your denial. Quit it.
If someone says, “there is a gender/racial disparity, and here are the facts and anecdotes to prove it,” you cannot respond with “nuh uh” and expect to be taken seriously. Even the fact that I have to explicitly say that is proof of white male privilege. “Nuh uh” has never, ever been adequate justification for anyone other than a white guy with power. Which is why when you angrily repeat back that gender and race shouldn’t matter, all we can say is “YES THAT’S WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO TELL YOU.”
WE'RE NOT MAD AT YOU FOR BEING A WHITE GUY
We’re mad at society for rewarding you for non-meritocratic reasons. And let’s be clear, white male privilege is a benefit you receive regardless of income or education level.
If we started a basketball game and I already had 6 points on the board, wouldn’t you point to the board and go, “Hey man, we haven’t even started the game yet!” And imagine your frustration when my response is, “stop being such a cry baby and let’s play.”
White privilege and male privilege work like that. Everyone else can see the advantages you’re getting, but you are willfully ignoring the starting scoreboard. Quit it.
OK YOU GET IT, THE WHITE GUY LIFE IS EASIER. SO YOU'RE JUST SUPPOSED TO GET BITCHED AT ALL THE TIME?
No. Look, you’re allowed to have self-respect and dignity. No one is asking you not to stand up for yourself. But standing up for this system is different from standing up for yourself, and you need to learn the difference before you defend the system. The system is objectively broken, and your failure to acknowledge that and discuss solutions cannot be humored anymore. We are out of time.
And saying you got an advantage doesn’t mean that you haven’t earned what you’ve worked for. Neoliberalism has been hard on all of us, and you have had a tough ride too. It’s just that in this country, everyone else has had it tougher.
"WHEN YOU'RE ACCUSTOMED TO PRIVILEGE, EQUALITY FEELS LIKE OPPRESSION."
Yes, you will lose systemic advantages as we continue to reform the system to be more fair. That loss of advantage, especially at the elite level, will be met with a lot of resistance. Turns out, some people really like the advantages. They want to keep them and they fight us really hard when we even point the advantages out. You can fight us as well, you can help us fight them, or you can just fade into the background, wait for us to get punished, and get a promotion.
Because, see, that’s how this advantage really works. You sit out the hairy conversations and watch as women and minorities get taken out. So guys, it’s your responsibility to participate. Join us or get out of our way.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO QUIT YOUR JOB AND JOIN A COMMUNE
You just need to understand that in an economy with limited jobs and opportunities, “your kind” having a regular advantage at every step of the way starts to add up. Minorities and women get even more left out of the economy. It’s not that you are too comfortable, you just can’t forget that you are rarely if ever the most uncomfortable in the room. And you are going to need to constantly remind yourself of that, because it will be easy to forget the context of your life.
YOU CAN BE PART OF THE SOLUTION AS SOON AS YOU DECIDE TO BE
You can help us troubleshoot the problems. You can debate our ideas about how to make the system fair. You can use your power at your job or in your friend group or in your home to change minds one-by-one. You can bring up systemic racism up at the team meeting so your black coworker doesn’t have to. You can challenge the maternity and paternity leave policies at your company so your pregnant coworker doesn’t have to. The good thing about cards being stacked in your favor is that one by one, you can even out the stacks. But you have got to be willing to pick up a card.
Originally published on author's blog, Cats Hate Politics