Straight White American Males

If you’re of European descent, do you ever feel “white guilt”?

Particularly as a straight white American male, I’ve had life theoretically handed to me on a silver platter. After all, I was born into a rich family, given a free pass to an Ivy League school, and have been whittling away my trust fund since I was 18. Or maybe I grew up in a trailer, was taught the supremacy of my race, and have been carrying around Mountain Dew bottles full of chaw spit for the past 35 years. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between.

There’s no doubt that even today, a black man has it harder, on average, than a white fella. It’s fact that most people never leave their parent’s class in life. If your dad made $120k and was upper middle class, then you probably will be too. Mom was poor, that’s your likely fate. Always exceptions, but that’s the rule.

Every few generations we rise above and overcome this (and sometimes a generation can knock us back a century or two).

So where my ancestors have had thousands of years, back to Germany’s origins and Rome’s effort, to make better and better lives for me and mine, most black Americans have only a few generations between themselves and slavery. It’s pretty hard to rise above when you began with 0.

That said, at what point do we stop blaming whites and start kicking ass with the same type of vigor as we do when we cheer on the underdog? Everyone loves the team that has lower odds, but eventually rises up. There are a plethora of black people who’ve accomplished as much as any white person, I voted for one twice, and so the field is more even than ever.

Blaming modern white people for the actions of their great great grandfathers is like blaming a parking lot for the lack of forest in its stead. It’s not the parking lots fault, it’s the guys who built it.

And if we blame whites for their ancestors past indiscretions, is that not racist in itself? Or should we only blame southern whites, since those in the north didn’t have slaves? Are Canadians to blame, though they had no part? Should we blame Africans who sold the slaves to Europeans, and then all of Europe as well?

White people had the historical advantage of time and climate. Europeans had mild weather compared to Africans. That gave rise to easier living through agriculture, which provided the free time necessary to invent. Invent guns and ships. Which we sailed to and shot at people in Africa.

And the Americas. The Mayans, even North American Indians, were far more advanced in their appreciation of their world, though we considered this primitive, there is nothing more savage than taking advantage of the very earth that supports us. It wasn’t civilized vs. savage, it was technology. We had guns and medicine and ships, Africans and Indians did not. And so, we made the rules.

And we sucked at it, and our history is atrocious.

But again, Africans captured and sold their own people to whites as slaves. Indians were killing one another just as the Romans and Chinese and British were doing long before anyone ever crossed any oceans or invaded any new worlds.

Humanity is, apparently, naughty by nature. It all comes down to who builds the biggest slingshot first.

Or no?

I was not handed life to me. I had advantages, and disadvantages, like every one else. Granted, being born in America, where even the poorest live a life on a scale incomprehensible to many people living in third world countries, makes it pretty easy. But everything is relevant. I may rise above my parent’s class, perhaps, but only with a combination of where they got me started, help and luck along the way, and a metric ton of time dedicated to bettering my life.

We do no good by blaming those decades six feet underground instead of learning from the past and moving forward as individuals attempting to create a better whole.

Sadly, the current attitude toward gay people in this nation shows how we haven’t come as far as I’d like to think, but we are long past the sheer blanket of oppression we once inflicted on the minorities of this nation. I fear that until we unchain ourselves completely from religion, we’ll have little chance of a majority consensus on common sense and treating others equally, but we are on that path.

Don’t blame the guy next to you for what someone who looks like him but long ago met death did, get to know him, pick up his hitchhiking ass or share a beer over his conservative viewpoints and try and gain more knowledge for yourself, rather than add flame to this too long blazing forest fire we call the history of all man.

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