I love white males

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Review An assessment or critique of a service, product, or creative endeavor such as art, literature or a performance. That comment came in conversations with students about inflated faculty egos, partly as a caution to myself. In universities, the coin of the realm is being a big thinker with original ideas.

Rather than being satisfied with being competent—a hard enough standard to meet—professors too often puff themselves up, a weakness to which White guys are especially vulnerable. White guys need the unearned advantages to keep alive the fantasy that we deserve to be on top. No matter how often I face the depravity of patriarchy and White supremacy—the injuries that men and White people inflict on women and people of color—the realities are jarring, as they should be.

To ignore the fact that we White guys benefit from these systems would be to abandon any humanity that remains.

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I do not believe that any race or gender is predisposed to mediocrity. White male mediocrity harms us all. White men are not genetically lacking. We are just more likely than others to fail to understand the realities of patriarchy and White supremacy and less likely to challenge those systems.

But Oluo points out:. It is a mediocrity that maintains a violent, sexist, racist status quo that robs our most promising of true greatness. Our culture has shaped the expectation of greatness exclusively around white men by erasing the achievements of women and people of color from our histories, by excluding women and people of color as heroes in our films and books, by ensuring that the qualified applicant pool is restricted to white male social networks.

Mediocre offers ample evidence for her thesis. From there, Oluo takes us on a painful tour through White masculinity in higher education, social movements, sports, politics, labor, and business. The especially sick and sad history of the American South gets special attention, but no region is spared.

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And no one is spared, including White men who have written about social justice for three decades. Like me.

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White guys like me routinely acknowledge that we will never fully understand, let alone experience, the effects of sexism and racism in the way someone like Oluo does. The book constantly forced me to face my limitations. House of Representatives in I had unconsciously ignored the work they do and had stuck in the personality-driven news coverage. One more example. But the stories of Black players being beaten, even killed, by not only White opponents but also by teammates were new to me. And Oluo points out that White male identity has always driven our politics.

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That requires thinking about how White men will react to her analysis. Here are four possibilities:. One tool is the argument from justice. If we truly believe in the moral principles we claim to hold around human dignity, solidarity, and equality, we have to embrace a critique of unjust systems. Whatever material advantages we may risk losing, when we work for justice we gain a deeper sense of our own humanity and a richer connection to others. But you have to do it anyway, because you believe that women and people of color are human beings and that we deserve to be free from oppression, even when that means you personally have to give some things up.

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They also hurt people, and they compromise the integrity of our movements. But if we want to advance social justice, we have to create spaces in which people in the dominant classes can imagine themselves living with a self-respect that is more meaningful than dominance. Should everyone in those classes be willing to accept radical change without concern for self, to create a world in line with our stated moral principles?

Will anyone do that based on principles alone? I doubt it. People—White, male, and everyone—need a meaningful sense of self to thrive. My experience in the radical feminist movement—and subsequent writing and organizing efforts around issues concerning raceeconomic inequalityand U. No matter how much I acknowledge advantages I have, I have them. When I acknowledge those systems of oppression, I often get more credit than people who are the targets. Statements that can raise my status can have the opposite effect for others. Again, Oluo is on target:. It is seen as proof of his broad leadership abilities and his magnanimousness.

But women of color are never praised. They are seen as bitter, divisive, vindictive, and self-serving. White supremacy can benefit women, and women can be agents of White supremacy. Patriarchy can benefit non-White men, who sometimes promote male supremacy. Capitalism creates a relatively small of big winners, a larger group of the comfortable, and a lot of losers.

Even those who are economically comfortable in capitalism can live under the thumb of those with more wealth and power. You give them whiteness. You give them maleness. You give them an identity that will provide a sense of victory in good times and bad. All you need to be successful as a white man is to be better off than women and people of color.

But Oluo avoids any false equivalency. Men and women, White and non-White, are not in the same position:. Those of us who are not white men are the labor to be exploited, the scapegoats to blame, the bags to punch. But the whole human species is on a suicide mission. The end of patriarchy, White supremacy, and capitalism is a necessary but not sufficient condition to dealing with the multiple, cascading ecological crises we face—not only rapid climate destabilization but also soil erosion and degradation, chemical contamination of land and water, and species extinction.

I think the answer is that we are scared, and rightly so. No matter how one analyzes human failures to date, the human future is distressing. And what would it mean to love the same people whom those white men seek to harm? Oluo forced me to think more deeply about questions that have long bedeviled me—part of the gift of the book to White male Americans. Why you can trust us.

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Robert Jensen. Jun 9, How do we move White men to that fourth option? Connect: LinkedIn Twitter. Reprints and reposts: YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. Republish This Article. Inspiration in Your Inbox.

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I love white males

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The Dangers of White Male Supremacy